We are about to witness the competition heating up in the standalone VR headset arena with the forthcoming showdown between the Pico 4 vs Meta Quest 3, the latter set to release in the fall of 2023.
This article highlights the key distinctions between the two, equipping you with the knowledge to select your next VR headset.
The most significant difference between the Meta Quest 3 and Pico 4 lies in the processing power each can deliver in standalone mode. As the direct successor to Quest 2, Meta has concentrated on enhancing the performance and graphical quality of VR games. Consequently, the Meta Quest 3 operates on the yet-to-be-released Snapdragon XR2 Generation 2 chipset, backed by the Adreno 740 GPU. The Pico 4, on the other hand, is powered by the first-generation Snapdragon XR2 and the Adreno 650 graphical unit.
This means the Meta Quest 3 will offer 2.5 times the speed of the Pico 4 and twice the graphical performance, meaning the Quest 3 will significantly outshine the Pico 4 in standalone VR gaming. Unfortunately, the absence of eye tracking on the Meta Quest 3 is a bit disappointing, as this feature could have optimized game fidelity and performance even further, thereby conserving battery life through foveated rendering.
While the Quest 3 boasts superior computing power for VR games and applications, the Pico 4 takes the lead in terms of display performance. This boils down to the number of displays.
The Pico 4 features two LCD panels, one for each eye, each delivering a resolution of 2160 by 2160. These displays, viewed through the pancake lens, offer a 97-degree visual field of view (104 degrees rendered), resulting in a pixel density of 20.8 PPD—a commendable clarity for a standalone VR headset.
Comparatively, the Meta Quest 3 utilizes a single LCD, splitting its resolution to 2064 by 2208 per eye, also viewed through the pancake lens with an identical field of view. This yields a slightly lower pixel density of 19.8 PPD. The distinction lies in the dual LCD setup of the Pico 4, which more accurately mimics human vision, resulting in greater comfort and depth perception in VR games and applications. Moreover, dual displays enable users to fine-tune the IPD for an optimal visual experience.
Yet, the bottom line is the display performance between the two VR devices is slight.
Interestingly, while the Meta Quest 3 has a single display for two eyes, it uses two cameras to produce its passthrough, creating a stereoscopic effect. Conversely, the Pico 4 uses a single camera for video passthrough. This gives the Meta Quest 3 an edge in mixed reality, better mimicking natural human vision and depth perception.
Additionally, the Meta Quest 3 comes equipped with a dedicated LiDAR depth sensor absent in the Pico 4. This ensures that digital objects and windows in mixed reality are more seamlessly anchored into the user’s environment on the Quest 3.
Information about the unreleased controllers for the Meta Quest 3 is scant. However, from what has been hinted at and announced, they promise an exceptional VR gaming experience.
Specifically, the updated controllers, dubbed Touch Plus, incorporate Meta’s TruTouch haptics—a sensing technology that embeds touch sensors throughout the grip and trigger to provide isolated rumbles for enhanced immersion. Though we’ve yet to test this out, if TruTouch haptics is anything like the PSVR 2’s sense controllers, we’re definitely in for a treat.
In contrast, the haptics on the Pico 4 controllers are confined to specific areas and are less intricate and dynamic.
Lastly, the Touch Plus controllers for the Meta Quest 3 will likely be tracked more accurately than the Pico 4 controllers. This is not due to embedded inside-out tracking but rather the LiDAR spatial sensor on the Quest 3 headset, which ensures better tracking of the Touch Plus controllers.
Despite the expanding VR games library on Pico, with exclusives like Just Dance VR, the Oculus store on the Meta Quest 3 offers a wider range of standalone VR games. This can be attributed to the popularity of the Oculus Quest 2, which holds the title of the best-selling VR headset in history.
However, it’s always advisable to connect your standalone VR headset to your PC for access to VR mods and Steam.
With the price difference between the Pico 4 and Meta Quest 3 being a mere $70, the decision ultimately comes down to their features and performance. Given that the Meta Quest 3 is a year newer, this standalone VR headset is likely to be the superior choice. It offers access to the abundant Oculus store with its vast array of standalone VR games, and the substantial power boost is sure to deliver a superior overall VR gaming experience compared to the Pico 4.
Jakob Pii is the Head Writer at VR Expert and currently lives in the UK. He started his career in VR gaming in 2015 and has stayed in XR since, from exposure therapy in VR to 360-degree video documentaries. He is fascinated by how emerging technologies change how we live, play and work.