Meta not too long ago launched their extremely anticipated Quest 3 blended actuality headset, and we’ve given it the iFixit teardown therapy. Spoiler alert: It’s not tremendous repairable, as you’ll see within the video under.
We’ve been taking aside VR headsets for seven years, digging into the heart of all the pieces from the Oculus Rift CV1 to the PS VR 2. The expertise has undoubtedly gotten higher: The monitoring is smoother, the environments are extra attention-grabbing, and an increasing number of gamers are leaping into the market to indicate us their imaginative and prescient of a digital/augmented/blended actuality. But it surely looks as if an increasing number of usually, restore is getting left off of designers’ precedence lists.
And that’s why, as an alternative of a blow-by-blow narrative of the Quest 3 teardown, I really feel it’s extra vital that I attempt to clarify why my firm permits me to willfully destroy each digital machine I can get my palms on. To begin, we have to discuss Apple and “the yr of digital actuality”—a yr that formed as much as be “the run-up to blended actuality.”
Apple’s extremely anticipated Imaginative and prescient Professional blended actuality headset, which was announced in June 2023 however extensively rumored to launch the identical yr, slipped to a Q1 2024 launch schedule. This was supposedly as a result of production difficulties associated to the manufacture of the cutting-edge micro-OLED panels.
Enter the current market leader within the digital area: Meta. Like Apple, Meta’s CEO has long anticipated the revolutionary potential of digital actuality (VR) and blended actuality (MR) and has pumped billions of dollars into R&D to create the units and platforms needed to construct that digital world. Identical to the iPhone elevated Apple to change into the richest firm on the earth in eight short years, so too does Meta intend to capitalize on the VR and MR markets to attain the identical success.
Meta’s final try at derailing Apple’s plans to dominate this future market was with the Quest Professional. The seemingly rushed launch in October 2022 led to last-minute hardware cuts, a buggy and bland virtual environment, widespread stories of customers returning their headsets, and in the end a poor gross sales efficiency that resulted within the value of the headset being lower by a full one-third mere months after launch. Plus, it was a total nightmare to get into—completely horrible to restore.
It’s truthful to say that issues went awry, however Meta shouldn’t be performed. Because the battle to dominate the narrative for the subsequent multi-trillion-dollar digital machine class heats up, we’re making an attempt to focus consideration on how these billions of units can keep away from ending up in landfills.
This requires accountable and moral decision-making on the earliest phases of the design course of. Designing for restore is troublesome, and we’re making an attempt to carry that form of decision-making to the fore via our reporting, support of legislation, education initiatives, partnerships with other advocacy organizations, and engagement with manufacturers. However greater than something, we attempt to get designers’ consideration by taking aside their cool new stuff with a watch to the way it’ll fare when it begins to interrupt. Which it is going to.
That brings us again to our Quest 3 teardown, the place we discovered probably the most instant failure was the extraordinarily difficult process of changing the lithium polymer battery pack. Lithium-based batteries are disposable, as are all rechargeable batteries, and so they can put on out in as little as 2 years. With the ability to economically change them is essential to a tool’s helpful lifespan. Changing the battery within the Quest 3 is as troublesome because it was within the Quest 2, and much tougher than the Quest Professional (although the Quest Professional had its personal main design failures).
But it surely’s not all dangerous information. Meta determined to revert to simply accessible and replaceable batteries for the controllers. The batteries received’t final so long as the high-capacity lithium-ion cells within the Quest Professional, however you additionally don’t need to threat breaking your controller if the battery dies. That’s a win.
By drawing consideration to those design flaws, our hope is that the engineers and product designers will issue it into their subsequent iteration in order that when that “iPhone moment” does arrive, we’ll have already got repairability and reusability on the forefront of the dialogue.
We’re not there but although. With a continued absence of manuals, OEM spare elements, and any signal of repairability issues by any means, we’ve given the Meta Quest 3 a provisional rating of 4 out of 10.