As well as triumphantly reveal what could be the best large-sized phone we’ve ever seen, Samsung also revealed a new Gear VR headset during its Unpacked events in New York, London and Rio.
It effectively replaces the current consumer model and has a few specific changes that make it an evolutionary step forward for mobile virtual reality. And, of course, it works with the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
VR is a big deal for Samsung and this represents a further commitment to the technology. The company also told us that it will continue to invest in the tech and we have little doubt that the Gear VR (2016) will be as popular as its predecessor.
So here are some good reasons why we think that it is the best mobile VRheadset out there – even better than the previous generation Sammy.
1. New Samsung Gear VR free with Note 7 pre-orders
Some manufacturers are giving away the new Gear VR with pre-orders of Galaxy Note 7 handsets. Samsung did a similar thing with its previous headset and it helped get it into the hands of a wider audience.
Carphone Warehouse is one of the retailers participating in the giveaway. It will be including a Gear VR with each Note 7 ordered before 30 August. Pre-orders for the phone will be available from all networks from 16 August. The phone will be released on 2 September.
The headset will eventually go on sale too, we were told, but there is currently no word on pricing or release date.
2. New Samsung Gear VR is lighter
On paper, the new Gear VR’s 8g difference in weight to the former model might not jump out at you but it feels different when strapped to your noggin. It is definitely lighter and therefore more comfortable.
In total it is 312g without a phone or front cover. It is obviously heavier depending on which phone you choose to pair it with – the Note 7 is 169g for example – but it definitely has less heft in use and even feels more comfortable than many if not all non-Samsung headsets out there.
The foam around the eyepiece is also softer and more gentle on your cheeks.
3. New Samsung Gear VR has 101-degree field of view
One of the biggest differences between mobile VR headsets and devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive is that they normally have a more restricted field of view.
The new Samsung Gear VR has an expanded FOV in comparison to the former generation and just about every other mobile headset around. It now offers an FOV of 101-degrees. The previous model could only stretch to 96-degrees. This means you will see more of the content clearly than before.
It’s not quite as good as the Rift, for example, which has an FOV of 110-degrees but it’s getting there.
4. New Samsung Gear VR is blue/black
According to the expert we chatted to at Unpacked, the colour change isn’t just to distinguish the headset from its predecessor, but the darker finish is better for immersion. The white body of the original Gear VR was a little too reflective.
That makes sense and when you look at other headsets on the market, they all tend to be black or thereabouts. It might not look as good to the casual observer, but it’s the experience while wearing one that matters most.
5. New Samsung Gear VR is backwards compatible
Contrary to some former reports, the new Samsung Gear VR isn’t just for the Galaxy Note 7. Yes, it does have a USB-C connection specifically for that device, but a Micro USB adapter is bundled with the headset so it can work with otherSamsung phones too.
Even though many predicted 2016 to be the year of VR it has failed to ignite the interest expected. Oculus shipping delays and HTC Vive pricing have both served to ensure full, high-end virtual reality’s uptake is slow.
Samsung however has been storming ahead with the original Gear VR and, in many ways, mobile is driving the tech much more than gaming. The newSamsung Gear VR is not really a revolutionary leap forward for its proposition but it still represents an evolutionary tip-toe.
From what we’ve seen so far, it is the best headset on the market and, depending on the phone you use, an impressive entry into the world of virtual reality.