Meta's "iPhone moment": AR glasses that'll you'll be able to buy in 2027

Can Mark Zuckerberg bring specs appeal to Meta's AR/VR headsets?

Meta metaverse lifestyle image
(Image credit: Meta)

Could Mark Zuckerberg have the next iPhone-scale hit on his head? Probably not, but it might be in Meta's labs in the very near future. According to the latest AR/VR roadmap Meta has shared with its staff, the "iPhone moment" Zuckerberg believes is coming will start its road to production just next year.

The product is Meta's first pair of fully-fledged AR glasses, and they sound like a direct rival to Apple's AR/VR headset: the glasses, which Meta hopes to sell to the public in 2027, will have the ability to overlay high quality hologram-style images of people's avatars on top of the real world – and like Apple's offering, they're likely to be quite expensive too.

What is Meta planning for AR tech?

According to the roadmap, which has been passed to The Verge, these aren't the only AR glasses Meta is working on: it plans to release a set of smart glasses in 2025 "alongside a neural interface smartwatch designed to control them", with fully-fledged AR glasses going on sale in 2027 but entering testing in 2024.

The roadmap also talked about the Meta Quest 3: it'll apparently be two times thinner, two times as powerful and a bit more expensive than the Meta Quest 2. Meta has sold almost 20 million Quests to date, but Mark Zuckerberg believes that it's the AR glasses that'll be the iPhone of augmented reality.

He's probably right: while the Quest 3 will deliver mixed reality thanks to its outward facing cameras, it's still a huge thing to have on your head for protracted periods and you're not going to want to wear yours outside. 

But the big question is whose iPhone the AR iPhone is actually going to be. Meta's track record on hardware isn't brilliant: its Portal smart display was a flop and the Meta Quest Pro has received lots of poor reviews; the Quest, of course, wasn't a Meta invention but one it acquired. 

The current Quest 2 isn't doing as well as Meta would like, either: as The Verge reports, Meta's VR VP Mark Rabkin admitted that the headset is struggling to keep new customers engaged. "the newer cohorts that are coming in, the people who bought it this last Christmas, they’re just not as into it [as] the ones who bought it early.”

I think Mark Zuckerberg is right: AR glasses rather than full headsets are the holy grail of AR tech. And there's no doubt that Meta is serious about this stuff and investing heavily in both tech and talent. But I do think part of Meta's VR success so far is because there have been so few serious rivals in the same space. That's changing, and it's likely to change even more when we finally see what Apple's been cooking later this year and when Samsung rejoins the VR party with its own take on the tech.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (