Samsung Gear VR (2017) vs. Google Daydream View
Samsung has a new Gear VR with controller arriving alongside the Galaxy S8 later this month. While not much has changed besides the controller, let's look at the specs and features breakdown between the 2017 Gear VR and Google's Daydream View.
The Gear VR is a much larger headset. When positioned in the orientations you see above, the Gear is 25-percent wider, 16-percent longer (front-to-back) and about the same height.
Daydream View is also 36-percent lighter.
Daydream View's most striking feature is its (mostly) fabric design, which Google perhaps borrowed from the partially-fabric Oculus Rift.
In one of the few changes for the new Gear VR, Samsung ditched the old blue-black look for a dark gray color.
Google gives you three Daydream colors to choose from.
Android phone compatibility
The Gear VR is still limited to Samsung flagship phones, while Daydream is targeting wider Android support.
Right now, though, the more-established Gear VR has the longer list of supported phones. Gear-ready handsets include the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6 and S6 edge. The only Daydream-ready phones to date are the Google Pixel and XL, Moto Z and Z Force, ZenFone AR and Axon 7.
While you'd expect Google to have the compatibility advantage in the long run, the apparent lack of early Daydream enthusiasm among Android manufacturers (LG, OnePlus, HTC and Samsung all skipped Daydream certification for their latest flagships) makes Daydream's future look a little murky.
Given Apple's closed standards, the iPhone probably won't see any official or substantial VR support until Apple makes its own headset (if it ever does).
Field of view
Google has never stated the field of view specs for Daydream View, but our experience with Google's headset points to a noticeably narrower FOV than you'll find on the Gear VR.
Keep in mind that the Gear's FOV will be a little lower than 101° if you use a smaller Samsung flagship (Galaxy S7, S6 or S6 edge) rather than one of the phablets (S8, S8+, S7 edge, Note 5 or S6 edge+).
Resolution isn't cut and dry, since it will depend on which phone you're putting inside either headset.
The standard Gear VR resolution is 1,440 x 1280 per eye, though the Galaxy S8 and S8+ would technically crank that up to 1,480 x 1,440 per eye if the headset's lenses can utilize the entire display area. (We'll update when we can confirm.)
Most Daydream phones will give the headset a 1,440 x 1,280 per-eye presentation, though the smaller Google Pixel phone will offer a mere 960p per eye experience.
You'll only find AMOLED screens on Gear VR-ready and Daydream-ready smartphones.
Mobile VR still lacks positional tracking, so when you lean or move your body, the virtual world moves with you (rather than you leaning or moving within the virtual world). This is still the biggest limitation of mobile VR compared to higher-end PC setups.
While they're both a far cry from the advanced motion controls you can use with PC-based VR headsets (Oculus Touch and HTC Vive controllers), each of the mobile headsets now includes a rudimentary remote wand in the box.
Without positional tracking or the ability to pair two together, however, these single controllers work more like Wii remotes than anything that lets you simulate having hands inside VR worlds.
The Gear VR's new controller essentially replaces the trackpad that was on the right temple of all previous Gear VR models, but the 2017 model still gives you that option as a fallback.
You can also use a classic gamepad with the Gear VR – and some of its best games require one. Daydream View experiences are limited to the bundled motion control.
In just about every other respect, mobile VR falls far behind PC VR, but its one advantage (well, apart from cost) is that it's wireless.
Glasses wearers have the option of wearing the Gear VR without their specs on, as you can turn a wheel on top of the headset to adjust the focus to fit your vision.
You also have the option, though, of wearing glasses underneath either headset.
Like the 2016 model, the new Gear VR has adapters that let you swap between the USB-C enabled Galaxy S8 and S8+, and the rest of the microUSB-enabled Galaxy phones that play nice with the headset.
Daydream View doesn't have a physical port that connects phone and headset.
The Gear VR-ready Galaxies run Android with Samsung's TouchWiz UI, while Oculus handles the Gear VR UI and storefront.
Right now the Gear VR has a massive content lead, as VR developers have been making content for it since 2014. Daydream's VR library should grow over time, but right now it's still fairly sparse.
The new Gear VR releases on April 21, alongside the Galaxy S8 and S8+.
Google offers a much cheaper package, as you get Daydream headset and controller for US$79. The previous Gear VRs already cost more than that, at $99, but with the controller added to the new model, its price jumps up to $130.
Just remember that the headset itself is useless without a compatible phone – which powers the experience with display, horsepower, sensors and software – and will add significantly to the total cost.