Technology and consumer electronics giant Apple Inc. (AAPL), which has a history of revolutionizing products like personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, has of late been in the thick of things.
AAPL announced its partnership with the game-development software maker Unity and unveiled a slew of other new products. Its year-ahead product roadmap includes the new Apple Watch Ultra along with the traditional fall launch lined up for the iPhone 15. The company is also expected to ship new M3-powered laptops and OLED-screen iPads by next year.
However, last month, AAPL, which boasts a sticky user base with a retention rate of over 90%, grabbed headlines by announcing its entry into the augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) market with the Apple Vision Pro headset, which is set to hit the shelves early next year.
However, shortly before AAPL’s big release, incumbent technology heavyweight Meta Platforms, Inc. (META) also made its presence felt by unveiling its latest VR headset, the Quest 3, on June 1.
With the scheduled September 27 release of the successor to the Quest 2 headset, which was released in the fall of 2020, META expects to cement its position in the intensifying battle for a greater share of the steadily growing immersive technology pie.
With the battle lines in the AR/VR wars firmly drawn, we attempt to compare the weapons of both contenders to speculate which one is likely to come out on top.
As with all of the other offerings in its product portfolio, AAPL has placed the user at the center of the design philosophy for the Vision Pro Headset. It has done away with the need for controllers, freeing users to navigate the AR/VR space with eyes, hands, and voice.
The headset is also made with two micro-OLED displays that let people around the users see their eyes on the outside while they are in the AR mode but not when they have switched to VR, thereby intelligently signaling availability.
The Quest headset comes with ergonomic controllers for interaction, with hands-free options. It has three cameras on the front that may improve visibility of the real world for users wearing the headset and interacting with applications. However, unlike the Vision Pro, the headset comes without a glass front.
AAPL’s Vision Pro is designed with two padded straps with cushioning on the back for added comfort. In contrast, META’s Quest 3 is 40% thinner than its predecessor and is fitted with three straps for weight distribution.
With the battery of the Vision Pro being external, corded, and compact enough to be placed and carried in pockets, it is apparently safer than Quest 3, which has its battery built into the headset.
The Vision Pro comes with a micro-OLED display that delivers a 4K resolution for each eye with a refresh rate of 90 Hz. In comparison, the Quest 3 LCD comes with a resolution of 2,064 x 2,208 per eye and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
Regarding the chips powering the headset, Vision Pro comes with the Apple M2 processor, which can also be found in MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iPad Pro devices. However, the brand-new and purpose-built R1 chip would be used to process camera information. The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip will power the Quest 3.
The Vision Pro will have up to 16 GB RAM with 64 GB storage, while the Quest 3 offers 12 GB RAM with 128 GB storage. Both headsets claim to last up to two hours on a full charge. However, the former can be used without the battery while plugged into a socket.
Software & Support
The Vision Pro comes with a new operating system known as Vision OS that also lets users interact with familiar iOS and macOS apps in a mixed-reality environment. In comparison, the Quest 3 runs on Android open-source software.
While both headsets enable users to watch movies, browse the internet, and work using a virtual keyboard like one would using a physical computer, the Quest 3 is optimized for a fully immersive virtual reality gaming experience with haptic feedback technology that gives users a sense of touch.
Moreover, while the application software ecosystem is expected to be gradually populated as more game developers jump on board, Quest 3 offers more games from its VR store.
Compared to the Quest 2, which had a starting price of $299 during its release in the fall of 2020 and was later raised to $399 in July 2022, the Quest 3 would be available for $499.
However, the Vision Pro is in a league of its own as it would sell for an eye-watering $3,499 when it is released early next year.
In addition, AAPL has been forced to make significant cuts in its forecasted production for the Vision Pro due to design complexities resulting in apparent production difficulties for the Chinese contract manufacturer Luxshare.
These delays could also negatively impact AAPL’s plans to begin work on two new and bifurcated product lines, one second-generation high-end model that will continue the original Vision Pro and the other a lower-end version.
While AAPL’s Vision Pro triumphs concerning design and features, META scores higher in pricing, availability, and suitability for gaming applications.
Hence, as with its other offerings, AAPL has the better product for those who feel that the quality is worth the wait and the hefty price tag.