Samsung today revealed the consumer version of the ‘Oculus Powered’ Gear VR headset which is now compatible with four of Samsung’s latest phones. The headset looks similar to the two prior versions but a careful look (or a scale!) will reveal big changes.
The most notable improvements to the consumer Gear VR headset are a 22% reduction in weight—now down to 310 grams—compatibility with four phones, and a $99 price tag.
A quick Gear VR history lesson. The first Samsung Gear VR launched as the ‘Innovator Edition’ a semi-beta product that was ‘intended for developers and enthusiasts’, though the unit was sold openly to anyone interested. This first version was compatible with the Galaxy Note 4. Shortly thereafter, Samsung revealed a new version of the Gear VR (you can think of it as ‘Gear VR 1.5’) which reduced weight, made a few design improvements, and was compatible with the Galaxy Note S6 and S6 Edge.
The new Gear VR, which Samsung says is officially the ‘consumer version’ brings weight down even further and is compatible with four of Samsung’s latest phones: Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy S6 Edge. They also cut the price in half over the former headset, now down to $99 from $199 previously.
The headset has seen a continuous iteration on the side touchpad since the first version. The consumer Gear VR now has a valley indented in the trackpad on the horizontal and vertical directions to help users understand the orientation of the touchable area.
The headset’s faceplate returns. The original also had a removable faceplate to cover the phone after being inserted, through this was removed as of the second version of the device. In my use I found that I’d often forgo putting the faceplate back on as it didn’t serve any function in the experience.
The top strap of the headset is now shown here but it will be included with the device. A new foam liner has also been made which Samsung says will improve comfort.