Gear VR is a virtual reality headset developed by Samsung. It was released on November 27, 2015. The headset is designed to work with selected Samsung smartphones; Galaxy Note 5, S6/Edge(+), S7/Edge. When in use, smartphones act as a display and processor while the headset acts a controller. The headset has a touchpad on the right side, a back button just above it, and volume buttons on the front of the touchpad. All control pad and buttons are on the right side of the device.
Before a release of Gear VR to the consumer in November 2015, Samsung had released two innovator editions to developers in December 2014 and March 2015. Samsung had developers and enthusiasts learn how it worked and created contents to work with the device. With feedback from developers and enthusiasts, Samsung made improvements and finally released the first consumer edition on November 27, 2015. The second version was released alongside Note 7 in August 2016, with some minor changes and improvements.
Apps and Games
As of February 2016, there are 185 applications available to download. Prices are ranging from free to $20. They are in Oculus Store, and you need to create an account online before downloading any apps. Some games such as Minecraft require a Bluetooth gamepad, and some are simply enough to play with Gear VR’s trackpad and buttons. A Bluetooth gamepad is not necessary to be a particular brand. Many brands Bluetooth gamepads are compatible.
There are not only games but some unique apps you should try. Netflix and Hulu offer their contents to be watched in the world of VR. With the headset, you watch your movies or TV shows in a virtual living room with a big screen TV. Samsung Internet let you browse the internet through Gear VR. NextVR allows you see live-stream events with 360-degree (or 180-degree) video technology. It has tested out on the US Open and NASCAR. More and more live sports events are coming.
Difference between two versions
An old version was release in 2015. It’s the first consumer version. Regular price is $99.99. After new version was released in 2016, you may find an old version for a price with around 50% discount. A new version has some improvements such as a more comfort, less light leak and reflection, and more ventilation. However, the big difference between them is that new version is not only compatible with smartphones using Micro USB but also Type-C USB.
Which one should I buy?
The headset was released alongside Note 7, which is the latest version of Samsung Galaxy phablet, and it has a Type-C USB port. After a recall and discontinuation of Note 7 due to battery overheating, there is no Gear VR compatible phone that uses Type-C USB for now. A connector of Gear VR is detachable so that you can switch from Type-C to Micro USB or vice versa. So, a new version is also compatible with previous models of Samsung smartphones. If you are certain that you continue to use a current phone for a long time, you may choose an old version (SM-R322) with a great discount. But if you frequently upgrade your phone, a new version (SM-R323) is the only option because newer Samsung phones are expected to have Type-C ports.