If you don’t have the Vive or Oculus Rift, your phone may be the next best thing.
If you don’t feel like shelling out $800 for an HTC Vive or $600 for an Oculus Rift, then your phone can be the next best VR option. With both Samsung and Google currently leading the pack, mobile VR is looking more promising than ever. These are our picks for the best mobile VR experiences!
Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+
If you’re going to get a Samsung and you want the best possible VR experience, the Galaxy S8 is where it’s at. The processor in this phone is the most capable you can buy in an Android phone today, and it makes a huge difference in VR. You can play games and watch movies in VR for hours, and this phone will never give you overheat warnings or slow down.
It’s also a really nice phone, with an impressive diamond pentile “infinity” display and a very nice camera. Here’s what Andrew Martonik of Android Central had to say about it:
There’s no other way to say it: the Galaxy S8 looks downright futuristic. Despite tempering our design expectations with the introduction of really nice curved displays and sleek metal last year, Samsung managed to one-up itself properly with the tiny bezels and wonderful execution of the Galaxy S8’s body.
The Galaxy S8 is also the best phone currently on the market that can run both Google Daydream and Gear VR. This means that one phone gets you access to twice as many VR apps and games for you to enjoy!
This is the phone for everyone, and when you’re in VR through this phone you’ll find more things to watch and touch and play than you’re ever likely to finish. Whether you’re a VR newbie or a seasoned pro, this is the phone you get for VR.
Galaxy Note 8
The Galaxy Note 8 is the S8’s bigger, blockier, brother and the two are nearly identical in design, with just a few adjustments here and there. The most noticeable change is the addition of a second rear camera and the additional features that the S pen delivers while you aren’t in VR.
This is also the second phone that is capable of playing both Gear VR and Daydream, giving you plenty of options when it comes to what VR you have access to. The Note 8 has a larger screen, but in general, it’s a much larger phone. One that fully fills the Gear VR when you snap it into place, giving you that much more to feast your eyes upon.
Here’s what Andrew Martonik of Android Central had to say:
If you’re ready to handle the Note 8’s body, you’re rewarded with what is, once again, the best smartphone display available today.
If you want the biggest, brightest screen possible for your VR adventures, then this is definitely the phone for the job. While the phone itself might be a bit unwieldy to use one-handed, it only adds to the experience waiting in VR for you. With access to the best of mobile VR this is one of the best phones you can get for VR, and it does an amazing job of showing you worlds you’ve only imagined.
That being said, the Note 8 is on the pricier side of things. You can pick one up unlocked from Best Buy or Samsungfor $929.
Google Pixel XL
The Google Pixel XL is the latest of Google’s flagships, being one of the few phones on the market sporting support for the company’s Daydream VR platform. Offering what’s arguably one of the best VR experiences available on smartphones today, the Pixel XL shapes up to be a speedy and overall outstanding device.
When paired with Google’s Daydream View headset, the Pixel XL’s Snapdragon 821 and 2560×1440 display serve up a crisp but equally smooth VR experience. The device’s smaller sibling, the Google Pixel, also offers Daydream support, but is held back by its smaller 1080p display.
With Daydream still in its early days, the Google Pixel XL’s VR experience is relatively unique at this point in time. However, this won’t come cheap, with the phone’s 32GB and 128GB versions priced at $769 and $869 respectively.
Take a look at Android Central’s review for a closer look at the Pixel and Pixel XL!
Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge
It’s only fitting that Samsung’s 2016 flagships are top dogs when it comes to VR. They feature a powerful 820 Snapdragon processor and Quad HD display with a resolution of 2560×1440, which makes for sharp, pixel-dense, beautiful screen.
The Galaxy S7 has a 3,000mAh battery, while the Galaxy S7 Edge’s is 3,600mAh, which will allow you to explore the virtual world (using your Samsung Gear VR) for a good long while without having to worry about your phone dying on you.
With a beautiful display, powerful processor, and top-notch battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are your best smartphones for VR, especially since they’re so perfect for the Samsung Gear VR. In fact, since the Galaxy S7’s release, Samsung has been running promotions for a free Gear VR when you purchase a Galaxy S7 or S7 edge. Keep your eyes peeled!
What about you?
Is compatibility with VR a driving force behind your choice of phone? Sound off in the comments below!
Updated September 18, 2017: We’ve updated this list to reflect the best phones and their capabilities in VR.