A cheaper Meta Quest 3 might be coming, but trust me, it won't look like the leaks

The Meta Quest 3 and controllers on their charging station which is itself on a wooden desk next to a lamp
(Image credit: Meta)

Over the past few days we’ve been treated to two separate Meta Quest 3 leaks – or more accurately, leaks for a new cheaper Quest 3 that’s either called the Meta Quest 3s or Meta Quest 3 Lite, depending on who you believe.

But while the phrase ‘where there's smoke there's fire’ can often ring true in the world of tech leaks, I’m having a really tough time buying what I’ve seen so far from the two designs.

Going in chronological order; the first to drop was a Meta Quest 3 Lite render shared by @ZGFTECH on Twitter.

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It looks an awful lot like an Oculus Quest 2 with its slightly bulkier design – perhaps because it seems to use the 2’s fresnel lens system instead of a slimmer pancake lens system like the Quest 3 – but with more rounded edges to match its namesake. 

Interestingly, it also lacks any kind of RGB cameras or a depth sensor – which for me is a massive red flag. Mixed reality is the main focus for XR hardware and software right now, so of all the downgrades to make for the Lite, removing full-color MR passthrough seems the most absurd. It’d be much more likely for Meta to give the Quest 3 Lite a worse display or chipset.

@ZGFTECH did later clarify that they aren’t saying the Quest 3 Lite lacks RGB cameras, just that their renders exclude them because they can’t reveal more “at the moment.” Though as I said before, I expect mixed reality would be a key Quest 3 Lite feature, so I’m more than a little surprised this detail is shrouded in mystery.

Then there’s the Meta Quest 3s leak. The original Reddit post has since been deleted, but copies like this Twitter post remain online.

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Just like the Meta Quest 3 Lite leaked design, this bulkier headset suggests a return to fresnel lenses. Although unlike the previous model, we see some possible RGB cameras and sensors on the front face panel. On top of this, we also get some more details about specs – chiefly that the cheaper Quest 3 could boast dual 1,832 x 1,920 pixel displays.

But while the design seems a little more likely (if a little too ugly), the leak itself is setting off my BS detectors. The first issue is that the shared images include elements of a Zoom call that might make it quite easy to determine who the leaker is. To see these early designs the leaker likely had to sign an NDA that would come with some kind of financial penalty for sharing the info, and unless they have zero care for their financial well being I would’ve expected them to be a lot more careful with what they do/don’t share lest they face the wrath of Meta’s well-funded legal team.

On top of this, some of the promotional assets seem a little off. Some of them feature the original Quest 3 rather than the new design, some of the images don’t seem super relevant to a VR gadget, plus ports and buttons seem to change positions and parts change color across various renders.

As such, I’m more than a little unconvinced that this is a genuine leak.

The Meta Quest 3 and controllers on their charging stand

(Image credit: Meta)

Meta Quest 3 Lite: fact or fiction? 

I guess the follow-up question from my skepticism over these leaks is: is a cheaper Meta Quest 3 even on the way? 

Inherently, the idea isn’t absurd. The Quest 3 may be cheaper than many other VR headsets, but at $499.99 / £479.99 / AU$799.99 it is pricier than the Quest was at launch – $299 / £299 / AU$479 – and its affordable price point is the central reason the Quest 2 sold phenomenally well.

I’ve previously estimated that the Quest 3 is selling slightly slower than its predecessor did at the same point in its lifespan, so Meta may be looking to juice its figures by releasing a cheaper model.

What’s more, while these leaks have details that leave me more than a little skeptical, the fact that we have had two leaks in such a short stretch of time leaves me feeling like there might be some validity to the rumors.

A Meta Quest 3 player sucking up Stay Puft Marshmallow Men from Ghostbusters in mixed reality using virtual tech extending from their controllers

The Quest 3 Lite needs good quality mixed reality (Image credit: Meta)

So while we can't yet say for certain it's coming, I wouldn't be surprised if Meta announced a Quest 3 Lite or S. I'm just not convinced that it’ll look like either of these leaked designs.

For me, the focus would be on having a sleek mixed reality machine – which would require full-color passthrough and pancake rather than fresnel lenses (which we have seen on affordable XR hardware like the Pico 4).

The cost savings would then come from having lower resolution displays, less storage (starting at 64GB), and having a worse chipset or less RAM than we see in the Quest 3. 

We’ll have to wait and see if Meta announces anything officially. I expect we won’t hear anything until either its Meta Quest Gaming Showcase for 2024 – which is due around June – or this year’s Meta Connect event – which usually lands around September or October.

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Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.