Hands-on: New and Improved 2016 Samsung Gear VR vs. 2015 Model


Announced alongside the new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last month, the 2016 Gear VR headset is new and improved, with thoughtful backward compatibility with prior Gear VR phones. Our pal Ritchie Djamhur explores the differences compared to the 2015 model.

Comparing the 2016 Gear VR to the 2015 version, Ritchie highlights notable improvements in the video above.

For one, the lenses are noticeably wider in the new model, translating to an improved 101 degree field of view compared to 96 degrees of prior models. While not a huge upgrade, Ritchie says the increase is definitely noticeable.

samsung gear vr galaxy note 7 smr323 (8)

Also on the vision front, the perplexing white inside (around the lenses) of the old model has been replaced with black. Formerly with the white, it was easy to notice in your peripheral vision due to increased light reflection, only serving to highlight the tight field of view of the headset. The black backing of the new model is less distracting and compounds with the improved field of view.

Ritchie also shows how the USB-C and MicroUSB adapters work to make the headset compatible with the widest range of Samsung phones yet: the Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6, S6 Edge, S7, S7 Edge, and Note 7. Just snap the USB-C tip off and slap on the included MicroUSB adapter depending upon your phone. For the phones of varying sizes, you can slide the connector forward or backward for a secure fit. Samsung also thoughtfully included a USB-C to MicroUSB adapter for the charging port on the bottom of the headset in case you need to keep your phone juiced for extended VR sessions. See our full list of Gear VR phone compatibility for all Gear VR models.

google-cardboard gearvr
See Also: ‘Cardboard Enabler’ Opens Google’s VR Library to Gear VR, No Root Required

One thing that still feels missing from the new Gear VR, Ritchie says, is an IPD adjustment to change the distance between the lenses and a lens-to-eye adjustment to maximize field of view and make more room for glasses wearers.

The 2016 Gear VR runs $100 and remains a well-priced add-on for anyone that already owns one of the compatible Samsung phones.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Maria da Cunha

    Very mediocre! Did not like! The Rift is also a disappointment!

    • Charles

      Try the Vive – I’ve tried all the headsets (except PS VR) and I only like Vive. Though you’ll want to make your own face cushion for it (there are guides online), to increase FOV and comfort.

      • Carlos markic

        `00% subjective. They are all pretty much equal except obviously the GearVR for obvious reasons

        • Xiro

          Incorrect. They operate differently, it’s not simply a matter of preference.

    • Carlos markic

      The only thing mediocre is your comment.. Go to an eye doctor…

      • Maria da Cunha

        Learn to respect other people’s opinion. You are a rude person!

      • Commish Flock

        I agree respect the comment. That being said I think it’s great for being a phone! I think sometimes we think we deserve more than we can get. The rest is waste as well? I’ll give you my address I would happily take it from you LOL Maria. I respect your opinion though, have you tried PS4 and the HTC? Those are pretty much the only other options. I have the white gear and I love it I was wondering what the difference with the black one looks like the buttons are different on the side

      • Commish Flock

        I meant to say the rift is a waste as well LOL? I agree compared to others but it was the Forerunner it was the first one and we gotta give the company credit. I think years to come Oculus will be the head of VR

  • Okily Dokily

    How much is the FOV increase for an S7 edge?

    • MPKramer

      101 Degress vs 96 degrees.

  • E Jowa

    Thinking of selling my old one …Is it worth the upgrade?

    • Sedrick Campbell

      Yes! It’s more comfortable and the image was sharper for my S7.

  • OgreTactics

    Hyper underwhelming.

  • ZenInsight

    Will buy when S8 releases with 4K screen.

    • Lewis Johnson

      umm.. s7 is 4k

      • Mathias Haugaard Michelsen

        umm.. s7 is 1440p not 4k lol

        • Lewis Johnson

          well ive read online that it is 4k and there is no difference in qaulity between my s7 and my 4k tv.

          • jameaney

            I can really only hope you’re a troll and not some massive moron.

          • Xiro

            You wouldn’t be able to tell unless you were playing 4k videos in the first place…

        • Lewis Johnson

          and some of the vr apps are in 4k format

        • Acrofilo

          2560 x 1440 is 4k

          • Mathias Haugaard Michelsen

            No. 2560×1440 is QuadHD. 4K is Quad FullHD, or 3840×2160.

          • Kenneth Mcgee

            No its 2k

      • ZenInsight

        No. S7 is 2k.

    • Michael Carroll

      I seriously doubt the s8 will have a 4k screen. I dont know why you think it would. The s7 had heat problems, and you think trying to process double the amount of information with current tech, would be feasible. You would have to wait till they get 7nm cpus, which they dont have.

  • Judgeman

    how about something to cure the phone overheating problem?

  • Katherine Sterrett

    I have the gear vr but I am looking for a controller to use with the vrs and my phone so I can play the games. Any one have any suggestions on controllers?


    I see in your video a top strap to hold Vr in place. When I look at amazon – best buy etc, they do not show a top strap – is this included or optional