Samsung Gear VR for Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge Review

Hands on with Samsung’s Gear VR headset for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

I pretty much expected, like the rest of the world, that Samsung would eventually launch another Gear VR headset. But I was still surprised to see it unveiled alongside the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge at MWC, just hours after the HTC Vive VR headset was revealed.

This new version of the Gear VR Innovator Edition works with both of Samsung’s new flagship phones, in exactly the same way as the first Gear VR did with the Galaxy Note 4. You simply slot the phone behind the lenses in the headset and the phone’s display forms a window into the virtual reality.

Watch our Samsung Gear VR Innovation Edition reactions video

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S6 vs S6 Edge

There’s some small differences between the Note 4 version and the S6 Gear VR headset, though, and those changes do improve the experience.

For starters, it’s smaller than the Note 4 headset by about 15% according to Samsung, and it shows. It feels lighter to wear, so the straps sit more securely and I didn’t notice some of the neck strain I felt using the original.

One of the smaller cosmetic changes is the decision to remove the plastic cover that sits in front of the phone when docked. It didn’t really serve a purpose in the first model and it now makes it possible to charge the phone while it’s running.

The biggest change is the screen. One of the issues with the original was the very noticeable image pixelation. The S6 and S6 Edge both use 2K 1440p resolution, just like the Note 4, but the difference now is in the pixel density. On the 5-inch flagships you’ll get 577ppi compared to the 515ppi pixel density on the Note 4. The higher the number, the sharper the image appears. During a quick session of gaming on the S6 Gear VR, we were far less bothered by the pixelation.

Content, however, remains largely the same and some of the weaker examples, like the 360-degree virtual tours, still look grainy. They’re rather underwhelming demos for the technology. This is clearly down to the way the footage is shot, rather than any shortcomings with the hardware.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft HoloLens vs Oculus Rift

Early Verdict

The Gear VR Innovator Edition remains one of the best examples of a virtual-reality device currently available, and it’s good to see Samsung opening up the experience to more phones. In its latest iteration, it’s more comfortable to use and the sharper screens on the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge are better suited.

Samsung has spoken of pricing for the new Gear VR headset, but it’s likely to be around the same £200 figure as the Note 4 model, which is a lot of money for an accessory that has a small catalogue of content. If Samsung can beef up the store with more captivating VR apps and games, it could have greater appeal. I have my doubts whether that’s going to dramatically change by the time the S6 and S6 Edge land, though.