November 2015 saw the first consumer version of Samsung Gear VR launch for the masses. Early adopters may remember the Innovator Edition which arrived a year prior, and while mainly a developer platform, it was still publicly available if consumers wanted it, it just wasn’t heavily advertised like the current generation. Now with almost 18 months past VRFocus looks at which Gear VR is the right one for you.
There are a couple of variables when it comes to Gear VR, namely which Samsung smartphone you own, how much you want to pay for mobile virtual reality (VR) and how up-to-date you want the headset to be.
When the consumer Gear VR first launched the range of devices was fairly small. You had the choice of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and the S6 Edge +, all of which were flagship models. In the world of smartphones however that’s a long time ago. Since then the S7 and S7 Edge launched in 2016, shortly followed by the second generation Gear VR. Adding to this, Samsung held its Unpacked Event earlier this month announcing the S8 and S8 +. It’s worth mentioning the Galaxy Note 7 could have been in this list but as widely reported, its now been removed from sale.
So now there’s a wealth of Samsung smartphones to choose from, fitting a range of budgets for those keen on entering the world of VR.
Three Samsung Gear VR’s to choose from
So you’ve got your handset but now there isn’t just one Gear VR on the market, from later this month there’s going to be three. First you’ve got the original white Gear VR (model: SM-R322NZWABTU). This will only support the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge +. The design has been improved upon since this first iteration, but for the price conscious this will now be much cheaper than its original £79 GBP/ $99 USD.
So version 2 (model: SM-R323NBKABTU). This saw a colour change to a matt black, a touchpad redesign and a the inclusion of a home key alongside other tweaks. The model arrived during the summer of 2016, shortly after the release of the S7 and S7 Edge. It will support all the previously mentioned devices, coming supplied with a Micro USB adaptor as the S7 range features USB-C. Gear VR v2 should also have come down in price if you look around now that v3 has been revealed.
The third version of the Gear VR is pretty much the same as the previous model, albeit with one extra addition, a small motion controller is now supplied – similar to rival Google Daydream. This intern will allow new ways to engage in mobile VR experiences with a built-in gyroscope and touchpad. The new Gear VR – which launches on 21st April – will cost $129, and it’ll fit Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge +,S7, S7 Edge, S8 and S8 +. So if you’ve got an earlier model and plan to upgrade, going for the latest Gear VR might be the best option.
Then there’s software
When the original Innovator Edition launched it supported the Note 4 phablet. As developer’s then moved onto the new consumer Gear VR and newer smartphones that support slowly disappeared as they wanted to create bigger and more extravagant projects.
This is the way technology works so consumers don’t want to get left with a product that isn’t supported. Presently there doesn’t seem to be any issue with the current headsets or their compatible smartphones. The Gear VR library is massive, stocked with videogames, 360-videos, VR apps and immersive social experiences that’ll suit almost anyone. Most of these support the built-in touchpad, although some of the videogames do require a Bluetooth controller to play.
With the arrival of the Gear VR controller more studios are going to look at supporting the device, but users who already own a previous version of the headset can buy the controller separately.