Smartphone virtual reality system Gear VR has undergone a redesign.
Samsung revealed the new kit at this weekend’s World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.
The new system now includes a dedicated controller, not entirely dissimilar to that included with rival Google Daydream. It’s designed to be held like a remote control, includes a touchpad and is motion sensitive. Like Daydream, it can also serve as a point and click device, although it advances on Google’s design a little by incorporating a trigger, making it ideally suited to VR shooter titles.
It will be compatible with all existing titles, although 70+ apps that are designed to take advantage of it are apparently in development. Certainly, the move will help devs create titles designed to run across both smartphone VR standards.
The Gear VR headset itself includes a strap for holding the controller when not in use – again, like Daydream. The headset’s specs remain the same, boasting 42mm lenses and a 101 degree field of view. It is compatible with the S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge.
The original Gear VR has sold over 5m units worldwide, making it the world’s most successful VR headset. By comparison, PSVR has sold 910k units since October, and as of December 31st 2016 estimates for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift stood at 420k and 243k respectively.
Mobile-based VR offers very few bells and whistles compared to PC and console VR, but is significantly cheaper and far more accessible, requiring only the phone in your pocket.
Google Daydream is the most recent competitor to enter the smartphone VR sector. Initially it was only compatible with Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL handsets, although other manufacturers are now adding compatibility to their latest models.
Daydream does well for the price, but is still a very limited experience in comparison to the likes of Vive and Rift. The controller, for one, lacks the precision required to play high-end games. Titles tend to run at a slower framerate too, which added to the lack of precise tracking can make the experience a bit vomit-inducing for some.
More worryingly for Google, the Daydream experience has led to some overheating problems for some Pixel owners.