Samsung Gear VR evaluation (2015): A no brainer when you personal a Samsung telephone

Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

When Samsung and Oculus debuted their Gear VR headset virtually a yr in the past, the businesses made it clear the system wasn’t but prepared for the plenty. Billed as “Innovator Version” fashions, the unique Gear VRs have been meant primarily for early adopters. They solely fitted a restricted variety of telephones — the unique was designed only for the Observe four; the second for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge — and have been additionally fairly expensive at $200 per headset. Simply final week, nevertheless, the 2 corporations launched the primary-ever shopper-prepared model of the Gear VR. It is smaller, lighter, cheaper (solely $ninety nine) and is suitable with extra telephones (the Observe 5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+). However, extra importantly, its content material library has exploded, with extra VR apps and video games than ever earlier than. Digital actuality has lastly gone mainstream, and there isn’t any higher option to get began than with the brand new Gear VR.

eighty one

Gear VR


  • Reasonably priced
  • Snug to put on
  • Straightforward setup
  • Vast number of content material


  • Solely suitable with a handful of Samsung telephones
  • Drains your telephone battery
  • Not as strong as upcoming PC and console-based mostly VR headsets


Samsung’s Gear VR is the corporate’s first digital actuality headset designed for on a regular basis shoppers. For simply $ninety nine and a suitable Samsung telephone, you possibly can dive into an unimaginable expertise that’ll have you ever watching 360-diploma films and enjoying tremendous immersive video games. Sure, it solely works with a restricted variety of telephones, however proper now, there is no higher choice if you wish to give VR a attempt. 


Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

Samsung by no means made any pretensions that the Gear VR can be small and moveable — it is all the time been a relatively giant headset that appears like you will have an enormous pair of ski goggles strapped in your face. However each iteration of the Gear VR has been extra light-weight than the final, and the brand new shopper-prepared model is not any exception. Samsung says it is about 19 % lighter, and I undoubtedly really feel it. The earlier fashions had chunky white plastic across the head straps whereas the present mannequin has none. This not solely reduces the headset’s general weight, however makes it far much less cumbersome to placed on. All you do is strap the headset to your head with a few elasticized Velcro straps — one across the again of your head and the opposite across the prime — and also you’re able to go. The highest strap is technically non-compulsory, however I favored having it on for a safer match.

The match, by the best way, is fairly wonderful. The tender foam padding across the eyes and the nostril bridge makes the match very snug (My discomfort got here from nausea as an alternative; extra on that later). One other upside is that new Gear VR additionally simply accommodates most glasses — I used to be capable of put on mine with out an excessive amount of shifting round. That stated, when you have a comparatively light-weight prescription, you may need to go with out your glasses totally for extra consolation. Plus, the Gear VR has a spotlight wheel on the prime so you’ll be able to simply modify the main target to match your eyesight.

Like all of the earlier Gear VRs, the brand new mannequin just isn’t a standalone headset — it is primarily a VR viewer on your telephone; type of a fancier model of Google’s Cardboard, if you’ll. Besides that in contrast to Cardboard, the Gear VR has further hardware — an accelerometer, a gyroscope and proximity-based mostly sensors — on board to scale back latency and improve the efficiency general.

Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

To get began, you will should snap the telephone onto the entrance of the Gear VR in order that the show faces the headset’s stereoscopic lenses. Merely dock the telephone right into a micro-USB dock on the left after which lock it in place with a plastic holder on the fitting. No less than for now, the Gear VR is suitable with 4 totally different Samsung telephones: the Galaxy S6, the S6 Edge, the S6 Edge+ and the Notice 5. Because the latter two telephones are barely bigger than the others, the Gear VR has a toggle that you need to use to slip the micro-USB dock to the left or proper to accommodate the totally different sizes. Although it looks like the headset’s use is restricted to only these 4 telephones, Samsung advised us that it is extremely doubtless the present Gear VR could possibly be suitable with future Samsung telephones too.

By default, controls are relegated to the 4-method directional touchpad in your proper temple. It is far more contoured than earlier Gear VR fashions plus there is a raised middle nub, which makes the entire thing far simpler to make use of — you’ll be able to simply really feel your means round to determine the controls. Above the touchpad is a again button, which has been relocated barely to the suitable for simpler accessibility, whereas a quantity rocker is situated to the entrance.

Although it isn’t included with the Gear VR, I additionally advocate you put on a pair of headphones with it, as it will make your VR expertise extra immersive. There are additionally a number of video games that may profit from using a devoted gamepad controller (once more, this is not included with the headset), which you’ll be able to hook up with the telephone by way of Bluetooth.

In use

Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

I examined the Gear VR with a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. Setup was fairly straightforward; after you have the telephone loaded into the headset, you are just about able to go. As quickly because it docks into place, the handset will mechanically launch Oculus House, a VR content material portal from the place you’ll be able to launch quite a lot of apps, films or video games (if you do not have the Oculus app put in, it’s going to immediate you to take action). Digital actuality content material has exploded up to now yr, and nowhere is that this extra evident than the variability obtainable on the Oculus Retailer — Samsung and Oculus tells us there are already greater than a one hundred apps and video games on board, with much more coming down the pipeline.

Earlier than we delve into the content material, let’s speak concerning the show high quality. Briefly, it isn’t nice. Because you’re primarily urgent the telephone’s display as much as your face, there’s undoubtedly a slight “display door impact” the place you’ll be able to spot particular person pixels. This impact appears much more lowered than earlier Gear VR headsets, however it was nonetheless noticeable. In consequence, movies seemed fairly pixilated and video games simply did not look as sharp as I would really like. In fact, a whole lot of that is depending on the telephone’s show — the S6 Edge+ has an excellent 1440 x 2560 Quad HD decision, however even that did not show sharp sufficient when magnified with the Gear VR’s lenses. I am going to admit to brushing apart the necessity for telephones with 4K shows, however maybe there’s an actual profit in case you plan to make use of them with VR headsets.

That stated, as soon as I began actually enjoying round with the content material, I discovered myself casting these show quibbles apart. Viewing 360-diploma video of an ocean panorama was splendidly serene and peaceable, and I additionally loved watching episodes of Physician Who on Netflix as if I have been in movie show. Enjoying video games was particularly pleasant: Capturing at incoming drones in EVE:Gunjack and flying round on a jetpack in Omega Agent was enjoyable and interesting. With the ability to go searching you to residence in on enemy targets feels much more interactive than simply waggling a thumbstick.

Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

My favourite recreation by far, nevertheless, is Land’s Finish, a puzzle recreation akin to Myst or Monument Valley. Set on a rocky island, you remedy puzzles by gazing dots to light up them, tracing a line from dot to dot as a way to unlock a path. The immersive VR surroundings coupled with the sport’s tranquil soundtrack makes this one of many extra meditative video games I’ve ever come throughout. Observe: I like to recommend utilizing a swivel chair to play a few of these video games in order that you do not endure from an excessive amount of neck pressure.

As a lot as I used to be having enjoyable nevertheless, I discovered that I couldn’t put on the Gear VR for very lengthy durations of time. That is as a result of it does make me really feel a bit nauseous; I needed to take the headset off each half hour or so to cease my head from spinning. In fact, your mileage might range right here, however it’s well worth the warning. I occur to be a type of individuals who suffers from movement illness on boats and whereas touring down windy roads, so I am maybe extra vulnerable to this type of factor.

One other factor to be careful for is battery life. After a strong hour of VR time, the telephone’s battery dropped by as a lot as 20 %. After 4 or 5 hours, the telephone was almost lifeless. Additionally beware should you do need to maintain the telephone in VR mode for very lengthy, because it does sometimes get scorching sufficient to overheat.

The competitors

Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

Should you simply needed to get your ft moist with digital actuality, Google’s Cardboard is just not a nasty begin. In any case, it prices near nothing and it is lifeless straightforward to arrange. The downsides, in fact, is that it does not supply almost the identical diploma of sophistication and immersion that the Gear VR does. The Gear VR has straps so you’ll be able to put on it for hours on finish, further on-board sensors to scale back latency, plus it has a devoted touchpad for larger management. On the finish of the day, Google Cardboard is simply, nicely, cardboard, whereas Samsung’s Gear VR is a full-fledged dive into digital actuality.

Then once more, Gear VR’s efficiency does not fairly examine to extra superior VR headsets just like the Oculus Rift, the PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. For one factor, Samsung’s Gear VR does not have positional head monitoring, so you possibly can’t do issues like duck behind partitions or bend your head right down to take a better take a look at one thing on the bottom. The opposite headsets additionally promise to be much more highly effective — the Rift and the Vive might be powered by excessive-finish gaming rigs whereas the Ps VR will harness the computational prowess of the PS4. That ought to result in a better constancy expertise with higher graphics and higher physics — options that even one of the best smartphone will not have the ability to match.

But, these different techniques aren’t even out there to the general public but. Plus, they promise to be far more costly. Although the costs aren’t official simply but, rumor is that they will value at the least $300 every. And that does not even embrace the price of a excessive-finish gaming PC, which could possibly be properly over $1,000. In case you plan on going with the Ps VR, a PS4 is not low cost both, retailing at round $350. Even when you have been to purchase a Gear VR together with a suitable Samsung telephone, that may solely run round $500 to $seven hundred in case you get your telephone off-contract. Moreover, all three rival headsets must be tethered to their supply pc, which limits your actions when enjoying video games. The $ninety nine Gear VR, then again, is totally cellular, letting you swivel round in your chair or take it anyplace.


Samsung Gear VR review (2015): A no-brainer if you own a Samsung phone

If Google Cardboard provides a style of digital actuality, Samsung’s Gear VR provides up an entire feast. With simply the addition of a smartphone, you will get a very immersive VR headset that allows you to journey distant lands, watch films and shoot up spaceships in alien worlds. It is snug to put on for hours at a time — even in case you put on glasses — and controls are intuitive and straightforward to know. Sure, it is solely suitable with Samsung’s newest handsets and no, it isn’t fairly as superior as headsets just like the Oculus Rift. However at solely $ninety nine, Samsung’s Gear VR nonetheless makes for an awesome entry-degree VR headset for the on a regular basis shopper. If you have already got a suitable Samsung telephone, it is a no-brainer.