Meta Quest 3 review: now that's an upgrade!

Meta Quest 3 review: now that's an upgrade!
After 3 long years of dominating the VR headset market, the Quest 2 has now finally gotten a successor – the Meta Quest 3.

Although still the most affordable current mainstream headset, the Quest 3 comes at a higher price, boasting a higher-resolution screen for better immersion, color passthrough and new sensors for more refined AR experiences, plus lots of internal improvements and new quality of life features.

What's it like to use the Quest 3 as a VR enthusiast? Should you upgrade to it? Or if this is the first time you're looking into AR/VR – should this be the headset you invest in? Let's dive into the new Meta Quest 3 and find answers to these questions, and more…

Jump to:

Also read:


Design and build quality

The Quest 3 is quite notably thinner than its predecessor, the Quest 2, but don't let that trick you – the new Quest 3 is actually a bit heavier at 515 grams.

However, Meta had a good reason for increasing the weight – new quality of life features, such as a more refined IPD adjustment mechanism, and a larger battery.

Regardless, we have a sleeker, better-looking headset, made out of matte plastic. Up front we see three pill-shaped compartments that hold depth sensors, head and controller-tracking cameras, RGB cameras for passthrough, and even a mic. On the bottom-left and bottom-right of the device we find two additional tracking cameras.

The power button has been moved to the left side (and made bigger). Also on the left side is the USB-C charging plug, while on the right is where we still find a welcome 3.5mm audio jack, for plugging in your own headphones.

On the bottom of the Quest 3 is where the new IPD adjustment slider is, as well as the new pin connectors for the optional charging dock accessory. Next to that one – volume keys.

While the build quality itself hasn't changed too much from the Quest 2, nor does the device necessarily feel any more premium, this is a nicer-looking headset for sure. It's a brighter, more inviting color, thinner and sleeker, and just seemingly closer to something you may actually want to wear in front of people without feeling ridiculous. It's not as bulky on your face as other headsets, Quest 2 included.

The Quest 3 is a good step towards that dream future where an AR/VR headset is as thin as a pair of goggles. Not quite there yet, but it does appear to be close to the size of Apple's upcoming, fancy $3,499 Vision Pro headset, and that's impressive for just $499.

Head strap and comfort

Despite its weight increase, the Quest 3 doesn't really feel any heavier to wear than the Quest 2. In fact, this new design tricks your brain into thinking that it's lighter, and the flimsy default head strap we get with it adds to that.

Now, the thin cloth head strap we get is actually what you'd want for most use cases – something non-intrusive that does its job without being bulky whatsoever. And this head strap does its job – it can be tightened horizontally and vertically as you'd expect, using velcro for the latter, and it does feel quite secure and durable.

However, I find it a bit too rough on my ears when I'm wearing the headset. Would've been nice if it was softer on the bottom, but alas, if I don't adjust it to not rest on my ears at all, it'll easily leave red marks on them after an hour.

Overall, the Quest 3 is just not very good in terms of comfort, purely because of that head strap. And I can't even switch it with my old Quest 2 Kiwi Design Elite Strap, because Quest 3 and Quest 2 head straps are incompatible.

So for me, adjusting the headset is this endless battle of tightening and loosening the head strap, and usually compromising with how slumped over the headset is, because making it stay perfectly to my eye level means tightening the head strap too much.

If I tighten it too much – the headset presses on my cheekbones, yet if I loosen it – the head strap's cutting into my ears.

I believe Meta did the best it could while aiming for the thinnest, yet most durable default head strap possible, but yeah, I'll just have to wait for third party headstraps, as a lot of us did with the Quest 2 – nothing new.

This is still a perfectly okay head strap for playing both sitting down and room scale games, and depending on your head shape, you might have a better time, but it's not ideal in my experience.

On the plus side – the new face padding material that's on the inside of the headset is quite nice. According to Meta, it's made out of an antimicrobial, mixed-cotton fabric.

If you remember the disaster that was the Quest 2's face pad (or "VR cover", as Meta calls it), this is a huge step up. However, it could've been a bit softer, in my opinion, as it doesn't exactly press comfortably on your face when you tighten the head strap, in an effort to get a snug fit.

Sure, you likely won't be getting the red rings on your face the Quest 2's "VR cover" was legendary for, but there's definitely more to be desired in terms of comfort here. But hey, at least the nose cutout is huge, so it's very likely yours won't even touch the headset, which is a good thing in my books.

It is worth noting that both the "VR cover" and head strap can be taken off and replaced with both third-party and first-party alternatives, so anyone should be able to make the Quest 3 as comfortable as possible for themselves, with a few extra purchases. The longer the Quest 3 stays on the market – the more options we'll be getting.

I ended up using a Kiwi Design Elite Strap on my Quest 2, and won't be surprised if the same thing repeats with the Quest 3 here.


This is one area where no other competitor has caught up with Meta, not even close. As you probably know, most VR headsets come with large controllers that feature big plastic rings, which serve an important purpose – holding sensors for hand tracking, in a way that doesn't let your fingers cover them.

Well, that's no more, as the Quest 3's controllers drop those rings in favor of extra (perfectly well hidden) trackers, making these controllers the smallest, most compact, and most comfortable ones we've seen yet.

They're basically the Quest 2 controllers without the huge plastic rings, and that's a good thing – the button, trigger and thumbstick layout is the same, so you'll feel right at home.

Any smaller, and they'd be harder to grip too, so the size is about perfect.

So in terms of ergonomics, these controllers are about as perfect as before – grasping them feels natural and comfortable, your middle finger rests on the side trigger, your index finger – on the front trigger, and your thumb can either rest on a thumbstick or reach for the X/Y/B/A buttons.

While virtually the same size, the thumbsticks feel a bit stiffer than before, and if this change means we won't exhibit the notorious thumbstick drift a lot of us Quest 2 users eventually got, I'm all for it. Only time will show if these thumbsticks hold up any better, though. They're also a bit less prone to showing skin oils, which is a good thing.

For better or worse, the Quest 3 controllers still use AAA batteries, as opposed to built-in rechargeable ones, so you will once again have to buy new ones and swap them out every couple of weeks.

The mechanism to pop out a battery has gotten a bit more elegant and refined, though – now there's a button on the side of each controller that you simply press, and the battery lid comes off. Good stuff.

We also have the familiar lanyard hook on the bottom of each controller, letting you strap them to your wrists, keeping you from accidentally throwing them during an intense game of Beat Saber, for example. I usually take those off immediately, which you easily can too, but if you do play a lot of physically intensive games (VR boxing, fencing, Beat Saber, etc.), you'll want to keep them on.

Oh, and it's worth noting that the controllers' haptics appear to have been refined, feeling a bit more kicky and satisfying. Meta calls it TruTouch variable haptics, "enabling a more holistic range of in-experience sensations so you can touch, move and react realistically within virtual environments".

Lenses, FOV and IPD range

The IPD and lens situation has also improved here. The Quest 3 features pancake lenses, which do help make the device slimmer, and virtually remove that distortion and rainbow color effect we see at the edges of our visual field when using the Quest 2. Big improvement to immersion already.

But that's not all, the FOV (field of view) has been increased slightly, again adding to that sweet, sweet immersion. Another notable leap forward is the increased IPD range, which now also gets its own slider.

First, let's quickly address what IPD is and why it's super important that you adjust it correctly. IPD stands for interpupillary distance, and in short – it's the distance between the centers of your eyes. Each person has a slightly different IPD, and in order for you to have a good time with your headset – it needs to support yours, but also – you need to make sure you know your IPD, and set your headset to that.

If a headset doesn't support your IPD, or you fail to set it to your IPD, you will get eye strain from using said headset, so don't overlook IPD, if you want to have a long, comfortable experience in VR or AR.

So, make sure to find out what your IPD is (either by measuring the distance between your eyes with a ruler, in front of a mirror, or by going for a quick eye exam and asking for it), and be sure to set your headset to that exact IPD.

Moving on – the Quest 3 has an IPD range of 53-75 mm, so it should cover more people than its predecessor did. An IPD range increase is always good news.

In addition, as mentioned earlier, we now have an adjustment wheel that mechanically moves the headset's lenses closer or further apart, adjusting the IPD finely, and more elegantly than before. It does feel a bit stiff once you reach certain points, but overall, I was able to set the Quest 3 to my nearly perfect IPD number, and I'm happy that we no longer have to snap those lenses manually, as we did on the Quest 2.

Screen quality

The Quest 3 packs an LCD screen delivering a resolution of 2064-by-2208 pixels per eye, with a PPI of 1218, and what this means in simple terms is – it's sharp. The image is noticeably higher-resolution than what the Quest 2 offered, and with that distortion and rainbow color effect at the edges of your view gone, thanks to the new pancake lenses, the overall immersion factor has been improved significantly.

In fact, it's almost impressive that this is still technically a "budget" $499 headset, yet offering the kind of screen quality many $1,000+ headsets can't even nearly compare with (e.g. Valve Index).

If you care about refresh rate – it can technically go up to 120Hz, but you'll likely be experiencing 72 or 90 Hz in most, if not all, cases. Refresh rate means how often the screen updates to show a new frame, and a higher one means smoother motion. But to be fair, the default 72-90 Hz is smooth enough, in my opinion. Experiences like Beat Saber feel buttery smooth.

Yes, we're still dealing with LCD technology, it's no mini-LED like on, say, the Pimax Crystal headset, so we don't get pitch blacks, but colors are still fantastic, and so is the brightness.

The 100 nits max brightness we get on the Quest 3 seems laughably low, but I do find it looking a bit brighter than the Quest 2 did, even though the number hasn't changed. While you probably could still have issues playing excessively dark games, wishing you could go brighter, I've found all experiences I tested (standalone and PCVR) to be perfectly visible, and even a bit more so than before.

Should we still ask for more brightness? Definitely, it doesn't hurt, but what we get here is reasonably perfect for most experiences, and doesn't hit the battery as hard as more nits would, so… it's a balancing act, as with most things, and I think the Meta Quest team made a good call.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the screen door effect of earlier VR headsets, such as the Rift or Valve Index, is now a distant memory. The Quest 3's pixels-per-inch number is so high that the individual pixels become almost invisible, and completely disappear once you're playing a game.

Considering the price point, the screen's increased resolution is impressive, and a significant leap ahead from the Quest 2.

Passthrough: AR experience and hand tracking

This is what I was most excited about, and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed – color passthrough!

The Quest 3 packs 2 RGB cameras, which according to Meta deliver 10 times the passthrough resolution of the Quest 2, and twice the passthrough resolution of the Quest Pro.

What's passthrough? It's a feature that lets you see your real-life surroundings through your headset's cameras, creating an AR (augmented reality) scenario where you see both the real world, and digital objects, at the same time.

The Quest 2 had grainy, monochrome passthrough, which was clearly an afterthought. A welcome one, but unimpressive. Now the Quest 3 finally switches to not only color passthrough, but it's quite sharper too.

When I first put on the headset, I got actual goosebumps from seeing this color passthrough for the first time, because the best I knew prior to that was the grainy monochrome passthrough of the Quest 2, and the flat, 2D passthrough of the Vive XR Elite.

Not that this passthrough is crystal clear or anything, but you do get actual depth perception, it's in color, and it's clear enough for you to read even some of the larger text on your phone. So for what's essentially the latest "budget" headset – this is impressive.

That's not to say there's no weird warping surrounding certain objects near your face, just as there were on the Quest 2, though.

The point is, AR is better than it ever was on a Quest headset, and it's not just those two RGB cameras that make it possible, but the new depth sensor also. A lot of the new sensors on the Quest 3 are here purely with AR (and in turn – passthrough) in mind, and the results are good.

Mixed reality experiences are just plain more immersive than ever. Thanks to the Quest 3's improved tracking capabilities, you can play games overlaid on top of real-life objects, and it all feels super convincing.

For example, you can have a real-life dining table transformed into a digital pool table, and that pool table will be overlaid perfectly on the real table. You could move around in real space, looking at that virtual table, or any other virtual objects, from all angles, as they stay fixed to their original position, as if part of the real world. It's all just very good, again, especially for $499.

Hand tracking is here too, something that we've had before, but like passthrough, it wasn't quite as good as it is now, on the Quest 3. As mentioned, we have extra sensors, and it's pretty apparent that they improve on the hand tracking experience over the one on the Quest 2.

It's not enabled by default, so you need to go into the options menu and enable hand tracking yourself, which then lets you put down the controllers, and navigate through the user interface with just your hands.

Paired with passthrough, hand tracking makes for a truly futuristic AR experience. You can lie in bed, with your Quest 3, browsing a few websites in one or more floating, virtual windows, right above your head, scrolling through them with your finger, just like you would on a tablet. Except in this case, you're basically reaching for, and touching the air, yet it works really well.

Granted, hand tracking is still iffy on occasion, and I'm having a hard time getting the headset to switch between controllers and hand tracking when I want it to, which it's supposed to happen automatically.

But overall, hand tracking is really good. There's a clever little glow serving as a visual aid as to how close your finger is to touching a virtual UI element, and things like typing on a virtual keyboard are about as good as can be. You can intuitively pinch a window to grab and move it around, and release to place it, among other such gestures, and it's all quite reliable.

Things get worse when you attempt to, or are forced to use your fingers as pointing devices. If a UI element is too far away (e.g. the headset unlock pattern window), you have to use your hands as virtual mouse cursors of sorts. However, that cursor's angle is weird, and tracking feels unusually shaky in those exact moments where you want it to be precise.

As cool as hand tracking is, it's still something I only find useful for browsing the web in VR. Attempting to do anything more complicated with it just gets me frustrated, and I end up switching back to using the controllers. Pretty much all games and experiences require them, anyway.

I can only imagine how difficult hand tracking must be to develop, so I'm still very impressed with what Meta has achieved here. I'm also eager to see what Apple manages to pull off with in terms of hand tracking on its Apple Vision Pro, but I'm a bit pessimistic that it would be significantly better than this, if at all.

So for now, there's not much to compare the Quest 3's hand tracking with, and on its own – it's really good and promising, besides some minor frustrations, and the fact that it's not actually utilized in most games and experiences just yet.

Standalone VR experience, interface, and games library

Although the Quest 3 can be used as a PCVR headset (for playing virtual reality games on your computer), it's a standalone headset first and foremost, with its own Android-based operating system.

An all-in-one AR/VR entertainment device, if you will. So you don't need a computer, just your phone.

Because, before you can use your headset, you'll need to go through a setup process, which involves downloading a smartphone app.

I'm happy to say that the setup process is nice and fairly quick – your headset will prompt you to download the Meta Quest app on your phone, so you can enter stuff like a username and password quicker through that, and after a few brief introductory presentations – you're off.

First thing you'll probably do after the initial setup is go through the Guardian feature. It uses the headset's cameras and depth sensor to map out your play environment, so it can warn you if you're playing a room scale game and happen to get too close to a wall, or another object you can't see while in VR.

The Guardian feature has expectedly gotten more sophisticated than before, now automatically trying to mark where the walls in your room are, the elevation of objects, where the floor is, etc., and does a pretty great job at that, saving you time.

Moving on – when you first reach your VR home screen, you'll be offered to automatically download and install apps and games you had on your Quest 2, which is more than welcome to see. And yes, your Quest 2 games are compatible with your Quest 3, so you won't lose access to anything you've already purchased.

The user interface has gotten sleeker and more refined than it was in the Quest 2's early days, and I dare say it's about perfect for both VR and AR. So perfect, in fact, that Apple seems to have been "inspired" by it when developing its own AR/VR operating system for the Apple Vision Pro headset.

We have a home screen with an app dock that shows the time on its left side, and your recently used apps, plus an app drawer on the right. It's all quite easy to understand and intuitive, apart from the fact that you still can't add and rearrange apps in the dock, like you can in, say, an iPad dock. People have complained about this for years, and it's baffling that Meta still insists on not letting us customize the dock like that.

On the plus side, you can pick up an app directly from the dock and smack it in one of three window spots. You can have up to three windows running various Meta apps, which is awesome. You can move and switch those windows around at will, although for whatever reason we can't resize them freely anymore, which was an option on the Quest 2 a few updates ago. I guess Meta wanted to keep things simple.

Regardless, browsing the web or watching YouTube like this is a joy, futuristic as heck, because with passthrough enabled, it's a mixed reality experience. Those windows are mixed with your real surroundings, so you're perfectly aware of where you are in real space, yet you can have digital entertainment floating anywhere you want. From running on the treadmill while watching YouTube, to reading PhoneArena while lying lazily in bed, I've tried a lot of possible use case scenarios, and they're all fun.

While simplified, the Quest 3's interface remains what I'd comfortably call the best AR/VR interface we have right now. With its optional multitasking capabilities, good hand tracking, and improved passthrough, and tons of experimental and "hidden" features coming and going all the time, there's much futuristic value to be found here.

But let's get to the bread and butter of any Quest headset – the games, and more specifically, the games library you get access to. As mentioned before, the Quest 3 is a standalone headset first and foremost, and it's running its own version of Android. And like an Android phone, the Quest 3 has an app store, where you go to buy and download games and programs.

The Quest has the largest library of dedicated games, so if you're in it for standalone VR gaming, as most people likely are – the Quest 3 is now your best choice. From fitness and casual games like Beat Saber, through social experiences such as VRChat and Horizon Worlds, to more story-driven, graphically-intensive games like Resident Evil 4 and Red Matter, or perhaps multiplayer games like Population: ONE – they're all available on the Quest 3's app store.

However, that's not all. If you want triple-A gaming (think Skyrim VR, Half-Life: Alyx, etc.) and you have a powerful enough computer, the Quest 3 can also become a PCVR headset, and give you additional access to virtual reality games made for platforms like SteamVR. We'll talk about this next.

PCVR experience: Air Link and Virtual Desktop with SteamVR

If you're interested in playing SteamVR games, and computer VR games in general, your Quest 3 can switch from being a standalone headset to a PCVR one in seconds.

You have three main options to connect your Quest 3 with your PC, in order to play PCVR games with it. One is to buy an overpriced Quest Link cable, which is basically a high-speed USB-C-to-USB-C cable. The other – to use Air Link, which connects your Quest 3 with your PC completely wirelessly using your Wi-Fi, albeit it does require a good internet connection and your router and PC to be fairly nearby, for the best experience.

Whether you go with a cable or wireless, connecting your Quest 3 with your PC will require you to download and install the Oculus app on your PC, and that app can be frustrating. It used to work pretty well before, but update after update, Meta's seemingly made it worse and more unreliable. I've had tons of issues with it over the years, and during our recent Meta Quest Pro review, my colleague Stanislav did too.

So let me tell you a third option, the one I use and recommend – using the Virtual Desktop app. It's a $20 app on the Quest app store (and a free client app for your Windows PC), which removes any reliance on Meta's Oculus app, and works flawlessly, even adding tons of extra features you may want to use, such as passthrough in PCVR games.

In any case, once you've made your choice and paired your Quest 3 with your PC, you can fire off SteamVR and play pretty much any PCVR game that your PC can handle, with your Quest 3 – Half-Life: Alyx, Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR, all of them are compatible.

The Quest 3's controllers work perfectly well with SteamVR, albeit SteamVR still shows the old Quest 2 controllers with the large rings in your hands. That's likely something up to Steam to address and update, not Meta.

The point is, all PCVR games work flawlessly with the Quest 3, and if your PC isn't top-of-the-line, you always have the option of lowering your VR resolution from the SteamVR settings.

I personally use my Quest headsets more for PCVR than as standalone ones, so this is the mode that matters the most to me, and I'm happy to say Virtual Desktop, which as mentioned is my method of connecting my headset with my gaming PC, works with the Quest 3 with no issues.


The Quest 3 has two speakers, one on each side, pointed downwards, towards the user's ears. And they are excellent.

Meta boasts 3D spatial audio, plus a 40% loudness increase and an improved bass range than before, and it shows. The Quest 2 already had impressive speakers with even a bit of bass, but they did feel quiet sometimes. Not the Quest 3's speakers – these do get much louder, and yeah – the audio is spatial, the mids and highs are crisp and defined, and there's even a hint of bass again. I wouldn't say the bass has really gotten any better, but it's still more punchy than I've experienced on any other headset, so that's fantastic.

And you want those great speakers, considering some of the most popular Quest games are music-based, such as Beat Saber. Good sound really adds to the immersion and a great deal to the overall experience, and I'm happy to see it on the Quest 3.

Of course, another thing I'm happy to see still around is the 3.5mm headphone jack. It's on the right side of the headset, and it lets you plug in your own favorite headphones, if you want an even more immersive (and noise-isolating) experience.

But in my case, I'm perfectly happy using the built-in Quest 3 speakers. Not only do they sound great, and are now loud enough, but the fact that they're above your ears means you can also comfortably hear your real-world surroundings really well. Especially during AR experiences, this is something you'll likely want more so than complete sound isolation.

Fun story – according to SteamVR I have over 100 hours clocked in playing Cyberpunk 2077 VR (it's a paid VR mod that no longer works on the latest update of Cyberpunk, sorry to tease you), and the reason I've spent so long inside that game is – driving futuristic cars around while listening to the songs on the radio has always been a huge blast.

It was super cool on the Quest 2, and with the Quest 3's louder speakers – even more so. I've complained about flagship phones slacking on the speaker quality, but I'm glad to see at least in the world of AR/VR headsets most manufacturers don't. And Meta is currently the top dog in sound quality (among many other things).

Battery life

Meta doesn't mention it, but teardowns reveal that the Quest 3 packs a 19.44Wh battery, which is larger than the Quest 2's, although the battery life we're getting is about the same. After all, the Quest 3 powers a higher-res screen, so that's no surprise.

Here's what you can expect in terms of battery life on the Quest 3:

  • Up to 2.2 hours of usage on average
  • Gaming: 2.4 hours of usage on average
  • Social: 2.2 hours of usage on average
  • Productivity: 1.5 hours of usage on average
  • Media: 2.9 hours of usage on average

So basically, 2-to-2.5 hours, which is about on par with what the Quest 2 offered. However, my personal Quest 2's battery seems to have degraded quite a bit over the nearly-2 years I've had it, and it now lasts less than an hour.

Will we see the same battery degradation on the Quest 3 a year or two from now? Only time will tell, but I'm pretty certain of it.

But right now, in my experience the Quest 3's battery life is pretty great – I'm easily reaching 2 hours in both standalone and PCVR mode, which is more than I'm willing to use a VR headset for at a time anyway.

For charging the headset, we get a small cylindrical charger (with a pretty short cable), that takes the Quest 3 from 0% to 100% in about 2.3 hours. So it's not exactly fast charging, even according to Meta itself, but I've found it sufficient. So far, never have I felt that the battery life was weak, or the charging was slow, so I'm personally happy.

Even better, the Quest 3 has a few pins on the bottom, which let it charge "wirelessly" when placed inside a dedicated charging dock, sold separately.

The Meta Quest 3 Charging Dock costs a pretty hefty $129.99, but it does let you charge both your headset and controllers by simply placing them into it, instead of fishing for cables or swapping controller batteries. However, for the latter, you'll also need to invest in Touch Plus controllers, so it's a pretty expensive package overall, that I don't think I'll be investing in, or is worth it for most people.

The default method of plugging your Quest 3 into a USB-C charger (whether the included one, or the one from your phone) works perfectly fine.


We don't often see generational leaps that large in the tech world, but Meta has done a great job improving upon an already excellent Quest 2. The new Quest 3 sports a thinner design, more compact controllers, a way more sophisticated sensor array for hand tracking and color passthrough, and a higher-resolution screen.

While a price hike is never a reason to cheer, it's kind of understandable why this is a $499 headset, unlike its predecessor, which can be found for less than $299 these days.

If you're a VR enthusiast wondering whether you should upgrade to the Quest 3 from a 2 – if you can afford it – you should. Color passthrough makes a great difference if you're into AR experiences, and that newer processor launches games quicker, and more importantly – powers a notably higher-resolution screen. The new pancake lenses mean no more distortion and rainbow colors at the edges of your field of view, and those new, compact controllers are a joy to use.

However, if the Quest 3 seems a bit steep, and you already have a Quest 2 that's working perfectly well, you don't have to feel left out if you don't upgrade, as both headsets are currently playing the exact same games, which you already have access to.


  • Thinner, more elegant design
  • Ergonomic, compact controllers
  • Much improved passthrough, now in color
  • Beautiful, sharp screen
  • Fantastic spatial sound, louder speakers
  • New IPD wheel for easier and more precise adjustment
  • Massive standalone games library
  • Full PCVR / SteamVR support


  • The default head strap isn't very comfortable
  • The Oculus PC app can be a nightmare, forcing users (me included) to use the paid, third-party Virtual Desktop app for PCVR instead
  • Price increase

PhoneArena Rating:

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless