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Battery Life

Unsurprisingly, any sort of Gear VR experience is going to eat through your phone's battery life at a brisk pace. The Gear VR itself doesn't consume a ton of power; it's just got a few sensors and its touchpad to run. The power demands come from the VR software on your phone.

Think about it: just running a high-end first-person game on your phone can burn down your battery pretty quick, and when you add in the complexity of rendering each frame twice from slightly different angles (to create the Gear VR's immersive 3D effect), power demands are only going to increase. Even just viewing simple 2D video can eat a healthy amount of power, as that content has to be constantly re-rendered each frame in response to your head-tracking input.

To help mitigate power concerns, Samsung once again gives the Gear VR an auxiliary USB port on the headset's bottom edge, which you can connect to an external power source. For this new Gear VR, that port changes from micro USB to USB Type-C.

Price and conclusion

Samsung's selling the new Gear VR for about $100, just like the old model. It's compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, and the new Note 7.

You should also take into account the price of VR media, and especially when we're talking about games, stuff doesn't come cheap. You may be used to paying $3 to $5 for popular Android titles in the Play Store, but a good fraction of the Gear VR games in the Oculus Store are more in the $5 to $10 range. There are a few free titles, but the selection's a bit limited, and unlike Play Store Android games, you won't find a lot of freemium stuff, giving you a taste of a free game and tempting you to pay to unlock extra content.

It's also unfortunate there's not any overlap with games you may have already bought. Already paid for Minecraft: Pocket Edition in the Play Store? Too bad, because if you want Gear VR support, you'll need to fork over another $7.

So do you get the new VR or not? While the extended field of view and input upgrades are nice, they're not so game-changing that you need to upgrade if you already have last year's model.

Samsung also has a habit of giving Gear VR headsets away for free, often as a promo when it's got a new phone coming out. That didn't happen for the Note 7, but it's a distinct possibility we'll see something similar occur with the Galaxy S8 – so if you were planning to upgrade to an early 2017 Samsung flagship, you might want to hold off on buying a separate Gear VR now.

Finally, there's the specter of Google Daydream over the horizon, promising to revitalize the Android VR experience for all of Samsung's competition. Time will tell if Daydream manages to steal some of the Gear VR's magic, but for now Samsung's got just about the best smartphone VR add-on you can get, and while Google may change the whole landscape in the near future, right now Gear's the VR solution to beat.


  • Far superior experience to Google Cardboard
  • Generally comfortable to wear (some nose-cushion issues notwithstanding)
  • Focus adjustment supports users in need of corrective lenses
  • Accessible, well done UI


  • Limited selection of apps (and pricy ones at that)
  • Picture has a tendency to fog up
  • Cushioning should be more adjustable
  • Stuttering, jerky performance detracts form VR effect

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