The Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream both offer decent quality virtual reality without the huge price tag. It is that ideal middle ground between those early VR viewers that didn’t work very well and the current flagship models that will cost you over $600. But which is best? The Samsung Gear VR vs Google Daydream: Mobile VR showdown aims to find out.
Samsung Gear VR vs Google Daydream: Design
The Samsung Gear VR is a symphony in plastic. It’s fairly bulky, made of tough black plastic and includes a soft touch material band covering where it meets your face. It certainly isn’t the best looking headset in the world. The Samsung Gear VR is secured using two straps. One that goes from side to side and one that goes over the top. Both are secured using Velcro. While the straps look a little low rent, they are very good at what they do.
The phone clips into the front and while the two clips are stiff at first, they are reassuringly secure. The extra weight of the phone is balanced well and doesn’t upset the comfort of the overall experience.
Google Daydream is smaller, lighter and finished in a curious but nice cloth material. The overall shape is much the same as Gear VR but slightly softer. The material is a curious choice as it will get dirty, will get pulled and will date very quickly. On the inside, the construction is tough plastic like the Gear VR. The Google Daydream has more space between the face and screen to allow people to wear glasses when using it. I found daylight creeping through that gap which interrupted the experience.
The phone uses NFC to connect to the Google Daydream rather than a physical clip which is much easier to implement. The weight of the phone is managed well on the Daydream too.
Overall I prefer the Gear VR. It is easier to look after, will last longer and fits very comfortably. Your mileage may vary of course.
Samsung Gear VR vs Google Daydream: Display
The display depends entirely on what phone you use with your headset. The Samsung Gear VR is compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7, and Galaxy S7 Edge. All offer great looking screens running at 2560 x 1440 and 534 ppi. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge run at a slight higher 577 ppi but have a smaller screen.
The Google Daydream is currently only compatible with the Pixel and Pixel XL. The standard Pixel phone is ‘only’ HD and because of the smaller screen will show black bars at either side of the display. Pixel XL uses a 5.5 inch AMOLED screen capable of 2560 x 1440 with a 534 ppi.
The Galaxy range and the Pixel XL are comparable in terms of quality, brightness and detail so there is little to choose between them in terms of the VR experience. With more phone compatibility on the way for Google Daydream, I don’t think this will be a draw for long.
Samsung Gear VR vs Google Daydream: Software
Currently, the Samsung Gear VR has a huge advantage when it comes to apps and games thanks to the integration with the Oculus Store. I think this will change over time given the sheer size and scope of Google. At the moment, Samsung has the edge because it had quite the head start.
Both systems have an app store with a range of non-game apps, social apps and games. Both offer a good range of apps and concentrate on quality over quantity. As long as that continues, buyers will be happy.
The winner? Samsung Gear VR for now but expect Google Daydream to catch up or overtake by the end of this year.
Samsung Gear VR vs Google Daydream: Overall
Both the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream are comfortable, offer decent value for money and make VR accessible to most of us. They do come at it from different directions though and one will likely resonate better with you than the other.
For me, I like the rugged security of the Samsung Gear VR. I find it more comfortable for longer periods of time. It looks better and will continue looking better long after the Google Daydream’s material gets pulled, coffee stained or begins looking tired.
While limiting, restricting access to only Galaxy phones means Samsung guarantees the quality of the experience. Google Daydream offers more freedom but will the quality remain?
Want to know how to save battery life when using the Samsung Gear VR? How about learning how to correctly adjust and fit your Samsung Gear VR?