Apple Reality Pro vs. Meta Quest 3: Power or Price? | Digital Trends

Appke/Meta

Two exciting new VR headsets are on the horizon, each offering advanced mixed reality capabilities and better performance than current standalone headsets. Meta is the leading manufacturer of VR headsets and Quest 3 pushes its platform to new heights. Meanwhile, Apple has announced Reality Pro, its first headset.

While the price difference between these next-generation mixed reality devices is large, there is significant overlap in how you can use them. Neither are out yet, but let’s explore how the Apple Reality Pro compares to Meta Quest 3 based on what we know so far.

The price barrier

When pitting the Quest 3 against the Reality Pro, the huge price gap between Apple-made and Meta-made VR systems demands attention.

At the starting price of $3,500 for the Reality Pro, you could buy seven Quest 3 headsets. The Meta’s modest $500 cost leaves you with $3,000 to make up for the differences in performance and capabilities. This opens the door to a potentially strong challenge to Apple’s solution. Naturally, Meta has its own high-end mixed reality headset, the Quest Pro, though it’s still considerably cheaper at $1,000, having recently been reduced by $500.

The overall design and comfort are key to long-term use of a VR headset since they are face-related wearables. It should also be noted that Quest 3 will be out later this year, while Reality Pro won’t be available until 2024.

Design and comfort

Apple

We expected the Reality Pro to be sleek and slim, but Apple has shown us a device that looks the same as most other standalone VR headsets. It’s big, bulky, and reportedly feels heavy. Apple has yet to announce an official weight.

Like Meta Quest 3, Reality Pro covers the lower forehead, brows, eyes and upper cheeks. The Apple headset curves to expose the underside of your nose, but otherwise feels just as bulky.

Apple has a dubious advantage, allowing you to make eye contact with another person, even while wearing Reality Pro. Apple’s EyeSight feature projects a 3D simulation of your eyes onto the front using lenticular lenses.

Based on Apple’s demonstration, the effect is that your eyes are behind an opaque lens that can become semi-transparent. Sounds cool, but we’ll have to try it to know if it’s good enough to avoid the eerie and unsettling valley effect.

Marcus Cane

Apple didn’t give the weight of its Reality Pro, and Meta only shared that the Quest 3 weighs about the same as the Quest 2. People attending the event felt the Reality Pro weighed in at around a pound. It’s the same weight class as the Quest 2. To be fair, the Vision Pro should be lighter than the Quest Pro, Metas premium headset.

Comfort could be an issue when wearing either device for more than a couple of hours. It will be undeniable that you are wearing a VR headset. There’s no way to look cool, even sporting a $3,500 Apple space computer.

Specifications

Apple

As pieces of advanced technology, we have to talk about specifics. Clearly, Apple’s ultra-premium headphones will have much better display resolution and processing power than the budget Meta Quest 3.

Reality Pro features two Apple Silicon chips, the M2 for general computing and graphics, along with a new R1 chip optimized for mixed reality tasks. Metas has given the Quest 3 a significant refresh with a new Qualcomm chip, likely the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2, which incorporates three years of technological advances over the Snapdragon XR2 inside the Quest 2.

Despite offering twice the GPU performance of Quest 2, Metas Quest 3 will still use a chip based on smartphone technology. The Reality Pro should rival the performance of a MacBook with its M2 chip. It’s like comparing an Android phone to your Mac. Both are fast, the Reality Pro should be much more powerful.

While we’ve yet to hear the full specs for both devices, Apple boasts that the Vision Pro has 4K resolution per eye. Meta claims the Quest 3 has the highest resolution display it has ever made. An early listing from Best Buy, which has since been removed, indicated that the Quest 3’s display may be 2,064 by 2,208 pixels per eye.

Both feature advanced lens designs that are thinner than previous systems and let you focus screens about an inch from your eye. Meta uses pancake lenses, while Apple describes Vision Pro lenses as catadioptric, a closely related design.

Apple Vision Pro should have better dynamic range in both video and audio. It features micro-OLED panels, enabling true blacks and vivid colors. Its spatial audio scans the room and adjusts audio accordingly, taking advantage of Apple’s two fast processors to get more out of the headband-mounted speakers.

Mixed reality

Apple

Both Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro include mixed reality color passthrough cameras that let you see your real surroundings with virtual images, graphics and 3D objects overlaid.

Every Quest, dating back to 2019, had a passthrough option, but limited to pixelated grayscale on the original model and the Quest 2. The Meta Quest Pro was the first VR headset to update this experience to full color, although it’s a composite view, which combines stereo grayscale and a single color camera.

The lucky few who have tried the Vision Pro say that the passthrough feels very good, almost as if you’re not wearing a headset. We don’t yet know how big the improvement will be with Quest 3. However, in a hands-on report preceding Meta’s announcement, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said it’s an overnight improvement over Quest 2, adding that it could use the your phone while wearing the headset.

Apple has impressive specs, but a more important consideration is how you’ll use your VR headset.

Usability

Half

With great power comes great expectations. The Apple Vision Pro blows away the competition in raw power and display quality, but so far it looks like a great replacement for a big-screen TV (if you don’t like sharing), and not much else.

The Metas Quest platform can also play giant immersive videos, and the Quest 3 will have access to a massive library of VR games along with dual motion controllers that let you shoot, drive, wield swords, and manipulate objects with virtual hands.

Both devices have great hand tracking. Apple also tracks the wearer’s eyes in intelligent UI design that makes interacting with standard widgets effortless. Translating this control scheme into standard VR games could be extremely difficult.

There is no doubt that some creative developers will be up to the challenge to create a unique and amazing game that works within this new paradigm. At present, the future of Apple Vision Pro games is unclear. We know iPad games will work, but we need something more exciting to justify the $3,500 price tag.

Will AAA games come to Vision Pro or will it be an occasional afterthought by some developers like Mac games?

Apple Vision Pro includes FaceTime with semi-realistic animated avatars. Meta is working on a similar solution, but it might be better to offer users the option to use a stylized avatar. After all, VR isn’t limited to physical reality.

Have you ever noticed how people on social media choose cartoon avatars or photos of something other than themselves, despite the ease of taking a selfie? Why should my VR face look like a less expressive version of my mug, and do I want to too?

Spatial calculation

Apple

If the Apple Vision Pro isn’t a gaming machine, what is? Apple never uses the term VR and hasn’t shown a single VR game in its ad. Instead, he called the Vision Pro a space computer, and it really is.

The display quality and processing power suggest you could swap a MacBook Air for an Apple Vision Pro. The only limitation is the software and operating system. Since the iPad apps will be usable, the Vision Pro is as much a computer as an iPad. However, people still argue about whether an iPad is a computer.

It’ll far exceed the computational capabilities of a Quest 3, but Meta includes a web browser that can open three large windows side by side. Web apps have improved dramatically, with enough power and flexibility to meet many people’s day-to-day computing needs.

Tracy Really

I was able to use the Quest Pro for a week as a laptop replacement right after the work-focused Metas headset launched. It wasn’t easy, but it worked. Quest 3 will offer better performance, a more mature operating system and improved mixed reality. The Quest 3 should be a reasonably useful space computer for office work and navigation.

Both systems allow you to connect to a desktop or laptop computer for more serious work. With Quest 3, you can even play PC VR games that are too demanding for the Qualcomm processor.

Own a Windows PC with an Intel Core i9-13900K and an Nvidia 4090 GPU? Your Quest 3 headset can easily connect to and pass an Apple Vision Pro. One could argue that the Vision Pro can connect to a Mac Pro with an M2 Ultra chip, but so can the Quest 3.

Which is right for you?

The bottom line is usually the value proposition. What can this shiny new piece of technology do, and is it worth it? None of these are out yet, but there’s a lot we can infer about them from what we already know.

For most people, an Apple Vision Pro purchase will be hard to justify. It could very well be worth $3,500 in terms of hardware. There is no standalone VR headset this powerful, and the displays are reportedly stunning, as is the audio.

Does it provide something unique and useful, though? Maybe it’s for developers and influencers who will use it for work. If you have money to burn, value may not factor into the equation.

For those looking for a more accessible VR headset, particularly for gaming, the Meta Quest 3 will remain the go-to headset when it launches. You’ll also have $3,000 left over to fill your need for more powerful technology.

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