Last year, Samsung and Oculus designed and launched the Samsung Gear VR headset for the Samsung flagship phones. The Gear VR was a huge hit among Samsung smartphone users and since it was designed with Oculus, it stood out from the rest of the mobile VR headsets. Also, the price was very low which contributed to its continued popularity. Do read our Gear VR 2015 review. In August 2016, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 7 phone and a new Gear VR which supports the USB Type-C port on that phone. At a glance, there is not much difference between the new Samsung Gear VR 2016 vs old Samsung Gear VR 2015. The new Samsung Gear VR is not a new generation model and it only offers a few new features over the old Samsung Gear VR. Here is our comparison:
New Samsung Gear VR 2016 vs Old Samsung Gear VR 2015
Design and Build
If you feel the build quality of the new Samsung Gear VR 2016, there is really not much difference in the quality of the materials used to build it compared to the old Samsung Gear VR 2015 model. The chassis is made from plastic just as before and the quality is just as impressive as before. The cover on the front of the headset is also smaller than the one on the old Gear VR. So now you won’t need to open a big cover, just a smaller cover which only covers the area where your Samsung phone would go.
When you see the new Samsung Gear VR 2016, the first thing you would notice is the dark blue color on the outside as well as the plastic wall around the lens inside the headset. This is a really good change because when you use the darker headset in a brightly lit room, the light does not interfere with your VR experience the way the white color of the old Gear VR used to.
In terms of comfort, the new Samsung Gear VR has a bit of an improvement. The soft padding around the lens in now thicker which helps in comforting the user and reduce light from outside entering into the headset. The area where the padding is placed is also more curved than the one in the old Samsung Gear VR. This contributes to the increased field of view of the new Gear VR, more on that later.
This time, the new Samsung Gear VR supports the biggest range of Samsung phones as of yet. The compatible phones are Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge and the newest Galaxy Note 7. The new Gear VR was released for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and it supports devices with USB Type-C and microUSB ports. The new Gear VR headset comes with microUSB and USB Type-C adapters which can be interchanged for the device you are using. In the old Gear VR headset, there was only support for devices with microUSB port.
The touchpad controls, that are on the right side of the new Samsung Gear VR 2016, are a lot different from the old Samsung Gear VR 2015. In the old Gear VR, the controls had a directional pad with a cross for the directions and one home button above that pad. In the new Gear VR, there is a simple touch pad with a gently curve upward at the edges. The touchpad feels very nice and easier to use since it doesn’t have bumps, you could say it is like using a laptop touchpad. There are two buttons above the touchpad now, one is the back button and one is the home button.
Virtual Reality Experience
When or if you get the new Samsung Gear VR, you won’t notice the difference between this one and the old Samsung Gear VR at once, unless you have used and the old Gear VR for some time. In the new Gear VR, Samsung has increased the field of view from 96-degrees on the old Gear VR to 101-degrees. This means that you will be able to see a wider image than before. The curved design explained above is also because of this increase in field of view.
The darker color of the plastic around the lens and the addition of a separation between the lens inside the headset also helps in delivering a better VR experience. Due to this, the light from outside and the light from the screen of the phone inside does not bleed on to the lens. This was not in the old Gear VR, so it is good that Samsung has addressed these issues.
Other than that, the experience of watching videos or playing games in VR is more or less the same as before. Getting your phone and Gear VR set up for use is also very similar. You will also be able to use a Bluetooth controller as well.
Should You Upgrade to the New Samsung Gear VR 2016?
Now that you know the difference between the new Samsung Gear VR 2016 vs old Samsung Gear VR 2015, the main question remains unanswered: should you upgrade if you are using the old Gear VR. That depends on a few scenarios:
- If you bought or you are going to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and you want to buy a VR headset, you should definitely get the new Gear VR 2016 since it supports USB Type-C. The old Gear VR 2015 does not support USB Type-C.
- If you have a Samsung phone with a microUSB port and you have never owned a Gear VR, you should get the new Gear VR so that you get the better VR experience.
- If you have a Samsung phone with a microUSB port and you have the old Gear VR 2015, you should probably stick with that since it might not be a very big upgrade for you, unless if you want to spend money.
While the new Samsung Gear VR 2016 looks better that the old Gear VR 2015, it is not a big upgrade except for the added support for USB Type-C for the Galaxy Note 7.