Cheaper Meta Quest 3 Lite just leaked — here’s your first look

Meta Quest 3 headset on table
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Meta Quest 3 is a superb VR headset at a competitive price. But it seems that Meta is looking to drop that $499 price tag further with a cut-back headset aimed squarely at budget buyers.

Earlier this month, VR Panda teased a “Quest 3 Lite” on X (formerly Twitter), and now the leaker has returned with a render of what the headset will reportedly look like:

It looks like a cross between the still available Quest 2 and Quest 3. It inherits the more curved appearance of the Quest 3, but the two RGB cameras and depth projector on the front have disappeared, making it functionally closer to the Quest 2. 

While the Quest 2 does have a passthrough camera, it’s a basic grainy affair designed for initial room set-up and to make sure you don’t walk into walls. The Quest 3’s full-color passthrough, however, opens up a whole world of mixed-reality applications, as you can see in the video below.

While removing cameras would indeed save money, Meta reversing on this would still be a surprise. As recently as January, the company published a blog post where it quoted its Reality Labs Director of Engineering for XR Tech saying that he was “convinced that Passthrough and MR will be a standard feature on all future headsets.” 

You could argue that that’s just one person’s opinion, but corporate blogs tend to echo the company line, and it would be weird for Meta to include that quote if it knew that it had a headset without passthrough just waiting in the wings.

Of course, removing passthrough cameras will only shave so much off the price, and Meta may also seek to include a more affordable processor. But if there’s an older processor and no passthrough, it’s questionable how much of an upgrade this would be over the Quest 2 — hopefully it inherits the lens clarity and improved comfort of its successor.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of an incoming cheaper headset. Last year, The Verge published details of an internal presentation at Meta where the company’s vice president for VR, Mark Rabkin, allegedly told employees that a more “accessible” headset codenamed Ventura was scheduled for 2024.

“The goal for this headset is very simple: pack the biggest punch we can at the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market,” he reportedly said.

With Apple driving new interest in virtual reality with its Vision Pro headset, Meta clearly senses an opportunity to drive adoption with a product that’s already seven times’ cheaper. Indeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims that the $499 Quest 3 beats the £3,499 Vision Pro on almost every metric. It’s “the better product, period,” he said in a video last month.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.

  • Daggre
    I doubt this is real. It would be a huge step backwards to lose the AR. I would expect them to just drop the pancake lenses.
  • penguins2
    This is a concept render. It isn't a real leak. The render was created by @XRCarlos88 on Twitter: link to original tweet, but the cameras were edited out by someone.
    If you want to see a much more legit leak from an actual Meta consumer feedback meeting, here's the link.