Samsung Gear VR Review – Detailed Pros and Cons

Interior Design/Screen of Gear VR

gear vr review screenBy that I mean, how does it feel and look when you wear Gear VR on your head.

Well, the outer area of Gear VR has definitely been made bigger, allowing you to wear glasses. Previous models didn’t really allow you to do so due to small space that resulted with glasses pressing on your nose. With this consumer model, there is more room, allowing even the biggest glasses to fit perfectly. It isn’t really a big issue because you can manually change the focus on Gear VR to accommodate your eyesight.

Even though I didn’t have any issues with the space enlargement, due to more air getting in contact with the lenses, some people have reported of increased fogging after using for some time. I didn’t notice any, so I don’t think you should be worrying about it, especially since I heard it has an improved fan system to eliminate fogging, but it is something you should keep in mind.

Screen on the Gear VR is somewhat good. I mean, the resolution that these new Samsung Galaxy phones offer to users, is nothing short of amazing, and while it’s even higher than on Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the display itself is not as good as one those 2 devices. And the main reason behind it is that Gear VR suffers from “screen door effect”. Look at the video for more clarification:

No, it does not look AS bad on Gear VR, but it has similar “symptoms”. Phones inside Gear VR may have more pixels jammed inside the display, but DK2 has less space between those pixels, making it look a lot cleaner in the long run.

This is just nitpicking on little details. When you wear Gear VR, it probably won’t bother you, but if you are really picky, that stuff is noticeable.


 Performance of Gear VR

Sound Performance

I found the sound quality to be reasonably good. Latest Galaxy phones are known to have the best sound quality out of all mobile devices, so with Gear VR it fits perfectly. Although it isn’t the best idea to use the device in public areas. Unless, of course, you love to draw attention to yourself.

I also tried out wireless headphones, but I found the sound on Gear VR to be quite distorted that way, plus it has some sort of delay between visuals and sound (1s) when playing games. It might be a bug that will be fixed with the upcoming software updates, but don’t take my word for it.

*Update – Ah, I did my research and apparently it’s a bluetooth latency issue. Until low-latency codec is supported, it cannot be fixed.

The best sound, in my opinion, is when I connected wired headphones to my Gear VR.

That, obviously, creates another issue known as “wireman-look-alike”. Basically, if you connect a charger to Gear VR as well, you’ll look like you are about to get electrocuted with the amount or cables connected to your head. The best way is to wrap the cable together with a coil-like material so it doesn’t tangle around your hips when you move your head.

Video/Movie Performance

gear vr netflix
Neflix on Gear VR

Many of us purchased Gear VR only to be able to watch VR movies on it. Is it any good? It actually is, and the best part is – it isn’t even THAT good.It is good in a way that you can watch all the movies you want, and it already looks better than on a regular screen. Oculus’ CTO John Carmack – a very passionate and famous developer – has been working on Netflix VR app personally, spending all his time on making it look as smooth as possible on Gear VR.

But, he did run into some hurdles. One of the biggest one is, video resolution shouldn’t exceed beyond 720p. More than that, and power consumption is too big, making your phone battery lose juice in half an hour.

That is why I am so hyped for VR future. When I decided to watch some of the clips we downloaded to my buddy’s Galaxy phone, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it looked. Resolution is really good on the latest Galaxy phones, but you can’t really take full advantage of that when phone’s CPU struggles to keep up with such VR processing demands. And 3D is demanding. That is why Oculus’ minimum GPU requirement is GTX 970. VR is no joke.

But I am certain phones will get better, and will be more accommodated for virtual reality in the near future. Will those phones be compatible with this Gear VR version remains unknown for the time being.

Plus, I am sure battery issue is going to be fixed soon. Technology is finally advancing faster in the battery area, making them last longer and recharge faster. At the moment, you can watch a full 2,5 hour movie in one go, as long as your battery is charged to full. If you connect a charger to Gear VR, it won’t charge it up, the battery level is just going to stay the same. In my opinion, it isn’t much, so I can’t wait to see improvements in this area.

Speaking of movies, there is also a “manual” way to watch content and your 3D videos. But, it does require you to spend some time on it initially. Though in the end, it might be worth it. I actually have a Gear VR 3D movie guides available, but like I said, it takes time to set everything up right, making user experience a tad uncomfortable.

Game performance

gear vr review games

It is hard to review Gear VR. With what device should I compare it to? Oculus Rift? Google Cardboard? Oculus Rift is on entirely different platform, while Google Cardboard… do I even need to say it?

If you have an Oculus Rift DK2, I don’t think you will be overly impressed by the visuals. Even if Gear VR’s (or Galaxy phone’s) resolution is higher than on DK2, it cannot compare to immersion you get or will get from Oculus Rift CV1. And that is mainly due to lack of positional tracking on Gear VR.

Don’t get me wrong, gaming on Gear VR is a whole new level that, if you never tried VR, will blow your mind. But when you get Gear VR, do remember that there is another level of immersion you can get in VR, and that is with positional tracking.

In VR world there is head tracking and positional tracking. Head tracking tracks your head so you can look around with your head, but you cannot “move” your head further and backwards, to the left and to the right. With positional tracking, however, this limitation is lifted, allowing your head to have a complete freedom with movements. Positional tracking is essentially one of the main features that lowered the motion sickness drastically on DK2.

oculus rift exclusivity palmer luckeyPalmer Luckey – founder of Oculus – explained why Gear VR doesn’t feature positional tracking. Long story short, Galaxy phones aren’t powerful enough yet to work well with this technology. You can read more about the lack of positional tracking on Gear VR here.

But, whatever the case, you can enjoy game content on your Gear VR, even if it doesn’t utilize the full power of virtual reality just yet. Here are some good games I liked: Gunjack, Dreadhalls, Land’s End (really love the last one).

Do keep in mind that if we compare Gear VR to other “mobile” VR headsets, then there is no question – Gear VR is the leader. It has been in development for years by hundreds of people, and has no competition. I don’t really want to be disrespectful to other companies that are in the same VR area, but come on, Google Cardboard can’t even get close to it, and other VR headsets like Homido or Lakento offer no challenge, even if Gear VR is a bit pricier.

The main reason it performs better than any other mobile VR headset, is Gear VR’s ability to handle the tracking part 10 times better by having a lot of extra sensors installed. That is a big game changer. It literally turns water into wine. Even the slightest movement from your head is tracked by Gear VR, allowing it to take pressure off the phone, and letting it focus on giving perfect visuals.