With Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy Note 7 came an unveiling of an all new Gear VR headset to go along with it due to the Note 7’s USB Type-C port. Although the new Gear VR was designed primarily for the newest Galaxy Note device, Samsung is packaging a USB C to microUSB adapter with it to make it compatible with older Galaxy devices like the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7, and Galaxy S7 Edge, as well as any other Galaxy device which is compatible with the most recently available Gear VR model. Of course, Samsung’s Gear VR is not the only mobile VR platform on the horizon as Google’s Daydream VR sounds very promising. This begs the question, then, is the new Gear VR the mobile VR platform to buy? That will be tough to answer completely as Daydream has not yet launched, and although the new Gear VR has not launched either, all of the content for it is the same as what’s available for the current model, so there is a lot already known about what the new Gear VR will be able to do on the content side of things.
Whether or not it is the platform to buy largely depends on what smartphone consumers decide to go with. One huge reason it is the platform to buy is quite obvious, though, and that’s if people choose to go with the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7, as the old Gear VR won’t work with it. Of course, consumers could choose to go with something inexpensive like the Cardboard and any number of viewers that are modeled on it, but these are significantly less capable than what the Gear VR has going for it. If it’s content that people are looking for and an overall more robust experience, then a Daydream VR headset might be the better option, as they’ll not only work with a wider range of phones (once Daydream phones and the headset itself launch, of course) but Google also already has a large list of content lined up for the platform to, from the next version of EVE Gunjack to VR versions of HBO Now and other media apps. Daydream also has a native controller coming with it that consumers will be able to use for a more enhanced experience, not only with plenty of the games that will be available, but with other apps and content as well.
For those that are already using a device like the Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, or an older Galaxy device from last year, there are more or less two choices - the currently available Gear VR and the newly announced Gear VR. Since either headset will work with the current Gear VR supported devices that are out there, consumers will want to weigh out their options to figure out which one is best. To do that though it’s important to know the differences between the two headsets. Right off the bat there is one obvious factor that sets it apart and that’s the USB Type-C port. Older Galaxy device owners would essentially be future proofing themselves if they went with the newer model, as Samsung is sure to use USb Type-C on all their future flagship devices, and while someone with a Galaxy S7 Edge would still be using the adapter that’s available for now, as soon as they might decide to upgrade next year perhaps, they would already have a headset that’s compatible, so they wouldn’t need to buy another one.
Another difference is the design, and while this is not a major difference, it is a difference and a difference worth taking into account if the aesthetic of the product is something which you care about personally. As the Galaxy S7 Edge is a phone which has a sleek design as a sort of backbone of its core philosophy, it could stand to reason that the “design” of the new headset would matter to quite a few people, and although it may be somewhat subjective, the new Gear VR does had a very slightly refined look with the new color, and the headset is also a tad bit larger. Samsung has also used new foam padding on the inside that rests against your face that appears to lend a little bit more cushion and the headstrap has been replaced as well with a little bit more length to it. There are also a few functional differences worth mentioning, like the dedicated button for going back to Oculus Home, where users have to long press the back button on the current model. Samsung has expanded the viewing angle of the new headset as well, from 96-degrees to 101-degrees, and there’s a flat touchpad that is easier to use. Of course the biggest functional difference might be the second USB Type-C port that you can find on the top of the new Gear VR which is supposed to be used for upcoming “accessories,” although Samsung has not mentioned anything about what these would be just yet. While at first glance the two versions of the Gear VR may look quite similar, there is actually quite a bit that is different about the two, with the new model having a handful of enhancements that make it a worthy first choice over the previous model, not to mention it will cost the same amount as Samsung has set the price at $99.
When you get right down to it, there is almost every reason imaginable to choose the new model of the Gear VR over the old model, if you have yet to pick up a Gear VR in the first place. For those that already have the Gear VR, that decision may not be so simple, as they would be looking at spending another $99 to get the latest version. If you already own a Gear VR but will be upgrading to the Galaxy Note 7, then you’ll have to end up spending the extra $99 to continue using the Gear VR, but this is to be expected. Whether or not the new Gear VR is the mobile VR platform to buy into rests on quite a few factors. Which phone are you upgrading to? Are you upgrading at all? Do you already own the older Gear VR? These are all questions which should be answered before making a decision.
Of course, there’s also the chance that consumers may not want to buy into a mobile VR experience at all and simply choose to go with something that is more highly capable, like the PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift. There are also other mobile options that could rival the Gear VR to be aware of which aren’t available just yet, but may be suitable pieces of hardware, like Huawei’s VR headset that was announced earlier this year. There is no price point or launch date set for the Huawei VR yet, but it does boast some compelling and intriguing features that may be worth considering, such as the 360-degree sound field on the go which is at this point not available on any other headsets. As the year continues on it’s also entirely possible that there may be more VR options announced or moving towards the market, which will only seek to make choosing one more of a challenge. In the end, Samsung’s Gear VR options are probably the easiest choice, as the current model is already available and the new model will be launching very soon. If you’ll have the right device, the new Gear VR is certainly going to be a tough mobile VR option to beat.