New Samsung VR camera could launch alongside Galaxy S7

Gear VR

Samsung has a new 360-degree VR camera in the works, one that could debut alongside the Galaxy S7 on February 21.

Before you go, "That's not something I'll ever be able to afford," take heed that the Gear 360 is a compact, spherical 360-degree snapper comprised of two 180-degree fisheye lenses, according to SamMobile. The publication claims it confirmed the existence of the camera, and that it's coming soon.

While it could still be an expensive piece of tech, the fact that it's smaller puts it directly in the consumer realm. It sounds akin to Nikon's KeyMission 360, unveiled during CES 2016, though we're still missing a price for that camera as well.

The Gear 360 (a fitting name) can reportedly connect to a phone via Bluetooth using the Gear 360 Connect app. Just what phones are those? Well, for now at least it sounds like the Galaxy S7 will sync up with the Gear 360, though it's possible current-gen phones like the Galaxy S6 will, too.

Users will be able to watch a live Gear 360 video feed on their connected handsets (no word yet on other devices, like laptops), but whether that ability sticks around when a phone is latched up in a Gear VR headset is unknown at this point.

A VR camera for all

The Gear 360 is likely the next evolution of Samsung's VR camera initiative, headlined by Project Beyond, a larger, multi-camera rig designed to snap video content for Gear VR.

The Gear 360 is said to have its own battery, so you won't need to connect it to an external power source. There's also some amount of onboard storage.

You'll have various setting options like HDR, exposure control, ISO, white balance, and the option to record using either the front or rear 180-degree camera or both 360-degree cameras in a dual-lens mode setting. A Gear 360 Gallery app likely does what you think it would.

The resolution of single-lens capture looks to be 1920 x 1920, while engaging both provides a max resolution of 3840 x 1920.

This isn't the first time we've heard about the Gear 360, with a trademark application for the name popping up less than a month ago. Today's rumor shouldn't be taken as confirmation, but it looks like the Gear 360 is shaping up to be much more than whispers.

With more firms, including Apple, looking to get into the VR, Samsung probably feels the pinch to stay one step ahead. Letting consumers create their own VR content while some firms haven't made a headset yet would certainly keep it ahead of the curve.

The final Gear 306 price may be prohibitive, but enthusiasts, for one, could start generating home-made VR content with the Gear 360. And if the cost is low enough, consumers who would typically buy a GoPro may be tempted to give Samsung's offering a try.

Whatever Samsung decides to do, we'll find out more on February 21.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.