Samsung has released a total of 3 Gear VR headsets over the past years, each offering their own unique features to give you the best possible VR experience with your smartphone. It's almost 2016 and Samsung has finally released a Gear VR headset that works with not only the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 edge but with the Note 5 and the S6 edge+. The headset is powered by Oculus and it offers a cinematic wide-view experience, an immersive 360 degree experience, and a realistic VR gaming experience. I do want to note that this particular version costs only $100 and without looking at the inside of the box or the headset itself, it's pretty clear to me that Samsung has decided to package this device as cheaply as possible. To save as much cash as possible, the box looks and feels really cheap to say the least. But hey, with that said, looks can be deceiving. We can slice off the tape, life open one of the flaps and slide out the plastic tray to get our first glimpse at the headset.
The first item on the box is the horizontal head strap that fastens on the headset via Velcro. The next item on the box is the headset itself, which is constructed with primarily plastic; no real surprises here. There is a lot of protective plastic film on the device that we will have to remove, granted there's not as much as on the previous versions I shall add. You'll see two main lenses here, which have their own protective plastic covers. And then we have the front panel of the Gear VR, which is plastic and has additional plastic protective film on it. I did struggle quite a bit to get the plastic off since Samsung did not really make it easy to remove as it wraps around the cover. But eventually, I was able to remove it.
Previous versions of the Gear VR always had this cover to cover the smartphone powering the headset itself. It was previously made of reflective glossy plastic but as you can see here, Samsung decided to give it a matted plastic finish, which I would say definitely much more stylish and it doesn't pick up as many fingerprints or reflects as much light which makes for a better video.
Before I journey into the world of Virtual Reality, there are a few more items in the plastic tray. We have a vertical head strap which fastens to the horizontal head strap and top of the headset via a little plastic clip on one side and Velcro on the other side. There's also a Getting Started guide with instructions to set up the headset and get it up and running. And that is about it. If we take a closer look at the Gear VR, we'll see some very subtle refinements from the previous version, which I keep mentioning. We still have our focus ring on top of the device, there is a back button and volume controls on the right-hand side. But the touch pad has changed a little bit. It features indent left-to-right up and down controls with what appears to be a center or home button in the center of the touch pad. With the added texture, it should really help you find the touch pad when you're in Virtual Reality.
One very much appreciated feature is the ability to charge the headset while you are using it, thanks to this little micro USB port on the bottom. This is not new to this version. It was found on the previous version of the Gear VR for the Galaxy S6. But it's really great because you don't have to rely strictly on the battery life of your smartphone (which is not very good if it's the Galaxy S6 or the Galaxy S6 edge), I'm just saying.
So to get the Gear VR up and running, all you will need to do is insert the Galaxy S6 or Note 5 variant of your choice between the two prongs. You'll see that one of the prongs can be slid back to allow room for the Note 5 and S6 edge+. But I will note that it is a very tight fit so you're going to have to really forcefully insert your phone there. Once you do that, you'll here a very creepy voice telling you to remove the device and install the required software. You can do that by following the on-screen prompts. It'll download Gear VR Service, Gear VR Video, VR Gallery, App Manager, Oculus, and Oculus Home-- basically all the apps you will need to get started and take the most advantage of Virtual Reality. Remember, if you have any problems or issues you run into, read your Get Started packet. It's there for a reason.
So with that said, you'll then be able to explore the world of Virtual Reality and look very stylish in the process. So this is by no means a full review but here are my two cents on this headset. First of all, I love how Samsung made it so that you can use any flagship Samsung device from 2015 with the Gear VR. That is a big win. The next milestone would be to allow a wide array of Android devices to work with the Gear VR. The Gear VR is cheap. It doesn't feel like a premium device but it offers a very premium experience for the money. I still believe it offers the best VR experience a consumer can have. While it does work with the S6 and S6 edge. My advice would be to use it with a larger device like the Note 5 or the S6 edge+ as it provides just a better experience overall. The higher pixel per inch index of the S6 is great and all but it's not distinguishable from the Note 5 pixel per inch index. The experience offered through the larger display of the Note 5 and the S6 edge+, however, is distinguishable from the smaller display of the S6 and the S6 edge.
I think, given the price point, the Gear VR is absolutely worth it if you are at all interested in Virtual Reality and you already own one of the compatible devices. If you do happen to pick up the Gear VR, I recommend you should download the demo Strangers with Patrick Watson and throw on some dope headphones, you'll be blown away.