Since the Galaxy Note 7 (read our Galaxy Note 7 Review) introduced USB-C to Samsung’s high-end phones, it was also an ideal (and necessary) time to update the Gear VR mobile virtual reality headset with a version that can accommodate this new connector.

The original Gear VR is a very successful commercial mobile VR headset, second only to the Google Cardboard because you can’t beat “free”. We deem both to be among the Best VR Headsets available. The original version had a micro USB connector integrated into the headset and is therefore not compatible with USB-C.

To remedy this, Samsung has created a USB-C and micro USB adapter for the Gear VR 2016 (we’ll call it this, for a lack of a more distinctive official name). This is smart because it allows both types of phones to work. Samsung also moved the action button to the upper-right side of the headset for a better human interface.


It’s important because the new Gear VR headset bring practical improvements that will benefit everyone. The most important is the wider FOV (field of view) that went from 96 Degrees to 101 Degrees — this makes the immersion a bit better. Samsung has increased the field of view by tweaking the lens design. Gear VR is built in partnership with Oculus.

You can also notice the black/dark color of the new design. This is because a white color on the inside of the headset tends to generate a bit more reflection and glare. This new version will help avoid distractions with a simple tweak.

I tried the new VR headset with a skateboard simulation (360-video) in which you step on a real board, with motors underneath to simulate the bumps of the road. It’s pretty convincing, and the immersion was good, and the latency was low. A colleague of mine who used to skate was pretty happy with the demo too.

The headset feels similar to the previous one and has the advantages mentioned above. The new FOV is nice, but it’s not a dramatic change, although any progress is good. If you already own the old one, you wouldn’t feel compelled to upgrade if you ask me.

USB-C adds new potential because we may one day use a mobile VR headset which is connected to a PC. In theory, the USB-C connection would allow the bandwidth to stream high-resolution video streams. It could also communicate fast enough with the PC to send the sensor (motion, orientation) data. However, this would not be as good as a PC headset like the HTC VIVE. At this point, we don’t know what the maximum bandwidth and minimum latency are if someone would try to make it work. Samsung didn’t comment on this.

Overall, the Gear VR maintains its spot as the best mobile VR headset, although if you don’t have a recent Samsung phone (S6 and up), you will have to look for another solution of course.

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