Samsung has been one of the mobile VR pioneers for some time now. They’ve been thriving to deliver unparalleled experiences by straddling the fence on performance and quality. Gear VR is Samsung’s relentless horse in the race, and it has a lot to offer which gives it a special place amongst its peers.
The Samsung Gear VR is one of the best mobile vr headsets that you could find. If you’ve never been to VR before, the headset gives you a glimpse of what the High-End VR would look like, given its quality. This review contain all what you need to know about Gear VR.
The newest Gear VR offers a 360 degrees VR experience. It’s compatible with Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Edge and Galaxy Note 5. It comes with a USB-C adapter and a Micro USB, a few dongles that you’ll need to take good care of. The device weighs around 0.76 lbs which is about 0.34 kgs over your face, plus the mobile’s weight of course.
Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of the latest release, and then discuss a more detailed breakdown.
- Comfortable wear
- Powered by Oculus
- Completely wireless
- Great head tracking
- Suitable price for VR
- Comes with Gear VR controller
- Controller batteries are not rechargeable.
- Not compatible with other phones.
- Few apps only officially support the controller.
Samsung decided to remain loyal to the old design, making the latest release similar to the old one. The device doesn’t look so fashionable with the phone hooked up either. The weird decision the company took to remove the translucent covering end up giving the whole thing an unfinished appearance. It’s not much of an issue since you can’t see it anyway, but for anyone else in the room, this might look a little bit awkward.
Comfort is one of the key things in any VR experience. Imagine if you have to stop an interesting movie halfway through, or a good game at a critical point, because you’re not comfortable wearing the gear, terrible isn’t it? It’s quite a relief that Samsung is taking good care of this particular point, as the gear is edged with foam to make it softer for your skin. Also, the straps that surround your head are fully adjustable in order to adapt to different head sizes. There’s no light leaking from the nose region as well, so your VR experience won’t be disturbed by the lights in your room.
The resolution is a little bit disappointing though, with a certain pixelation of the images that you can’t just get around no matter what you do. This is the consequence of having the phone’s resolution split between the two lenses.
The new software though addresses the issue as best as it could, enhancing the image quality, and making the phones run cooler so that the lenses wouldn’t mist up. There’s one thing to make clear here as the performance is nowhere near high-end VR performance so there are no comparisons to make.
High-end VR devices make use of the PC’s power and GPU to render the image giving an image quality beyond mobile VR’s reach. It’s totally unfair to compare, and if you think about it, a nVidia GTX 1080 card alone is worth probably somewhere around the Samsung Galaxy S8 with the gear combined.
This new controller has got a lot of potentials that it is bringing to the table. It brings the power of VR to your touch, making it feel more natural than prior controls. This controller will give you a good sense of things on how it would be.
Apart from the natural response and the fact it’s more spontaneous to play games like FPS shooters now, controlling the Gear VR also becomes much easier with this controller. The idea of having to press buttons located over your head in a virtual reality ( or any sort of realities actually) isn’t so pleasing. For a VR, it totally interrupts the immersive experience and might often prove troublesome.
Due to its novelty though, not some many games officially use the controller and can bring out its potential. That’s why many fans around the world have their hopes high for more immersive content that would use the controller to the fullest extent.
An immersive experience wouldn’t be so immersive without good content, but content for the Gear VR is a point of conflict that no one seems to reach an agreement for. On one side, the content is supported by Oculus library, so in theory, there’s a lot of material to discover on the Oculus store. Samsung also said that 70 applications support the new controller.
Now (July 2017) you can download more than 50 games/apps in Oculus Store that support Gear VR controller.
Would like to mention that some other people reported sudden crashes of the software while trying to run the applications. It’s fair to say tho, that the revamped Gear VR software update had the issue addressed and decreased the number of crashes and bugs. The software also added a new built-in browser and made the applications a lot smoother than before.
Setting the device up for the first time is quite a straightforward process, though it might be a little bit longer. You have to put your phone then remove it in order to start downloading the Oculus Store, then you’ll have to go through the installation of a bunch of applications but as we said, it’s not complicated, it just may take around 15-20 minutes.
In a nutshell, the device offers a very good entry-level experience to mobile VR and gives certain shades of High-end VR as well. While it might not be worth it to upgrade from the previous version to this one since there hasn’t been a drastic change, the controller is totally worth buying if you don’t have it.
And if you own a Samsung device supported by the Gear VR, buying it could be a lot worth it depending on your expectations as the Gear VR still holds its ground in terms of quality and performance, when compared to its mobile VR peers. The content isn’t so rich yet, but they are working on it, and the Oculus store already has some interesting materials.