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Given that the Samsung Gear VR made its debut in 2015, it’s no surprise that it has amassed a sizeable list of games and apps available.
The Gear VR has made a name for itself by being a home to some heavy hitters, like Eve Gunjack, Minecraft and Lands End. Additionally, those with a thirst for trying something new every so often will enjoy that the developer community is never short on pushing new games to the store.
Compared to Google Daydream, Samsung has a much larger library of titles to enjoy, though given the abundance, their quality comes into question at times. That said, the five-star rating system does a good enough job of informing users.
Samsung’s backlog doesn’t automatically map head movement to the gyroscope and accelerometer-packed controller, but it does allow you to rest your hands instead of keeping one near your temple to tap the touch-sensitive button.
That said, when playing older games and experiences built with head movement in mind, it’s strange to be holding a motion controller without the ability to control things in the way you’d imagine. This sort of fragmentation of software and how it’s controlled is indeed an issue that’s not seen on Google’s Daydream View, though it will minimize as more experiences are released with support for the controller.
The sort of experience you can expect out of the new Samsung Gear VR relies completely on the smartphone that you place inside. Stocked with the Samsung Galaxy S8, every game and application works without a hitch, thanks to the Snapdragon 835 (Exynos 8895, if you live outside of the US) and 4GB of RAM.
Due to the fact that this headset is compatible with a wide range of Samsung phones released in the past two years, your results regarding performance will vary. It’s safe to say that the older your chipset is, the more likely your chances will be to encounter frequent frame stutters and faster overheating, which will require you to stop playing so that your phone can cool down.
Thankfully, as the company has been putting 2,560 x 1,440 resolution displays into its phones since 2015 (with 2,960 x 1,440 on the S8 and S8 Plus), you’ll be treated to a uniform level of pixel density no matter the phone you use.
Pairing the controller with your phone couldn’t be easier. Similar to Apple’s magical AirPods connection process, a single tap on the new motion controller pulled up a prompt on the nearby phone asking me to connect.
The new Samsung Gear VR is an small evolution with a few small changes and improvements sprinkled into the mix. While it absolutely dwarfs the Google Daydream View in terms of size, it offers sizable benefits, like an adjustable fit and broader device compatibility.
The inclusion of the motion controller makes Gear VR even more worth the purchase if this is your first foray into virtual reality. While the batch of software that supports the motion controller is rather small, the potential for major players is huge, given that Facebook, Oculus and Samsung are already at work on building more experiences for the controller.
Deciding on which VR headset to buy depends on the phone that you have or that you plan on buying. Samsung has made the choice not to support Google Daydream, while Google itself, along with companies like ZTE, Moto, and Huawei have.
That said, if you’ve only got one premium option available to you, just be glad that it’s the Gear VR with controller.
- Looking for something to play? Here are the best Samsung Gear VR games
Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.