Given the inevitable minimum size of any virtual reality headset it was felt for a long time by both consumers and manufacturers that VR applications were always going to be limited to home use only. That, though, is rapidly changing now that mobile devices are able to offer similar levels of visual quality to desktop machines.
If any physical proof of this were needed, take a look at Samsung’s mobile phone offerings in 2016: Many new customers were being given VR headsets along with their phones, and with a wide choice of decent apps and headsets now on offer it’s becoming pretty clear that the evolution of these extraordinary accessories – kicked off over two decades ago by Sega and subject to a false start – is now inextricably tied in with the development of mobile gaming in general.
As ever, it’s becoming harder and harder to decide what to buy in a marketplace that offers ever more in the way of mind-blowing gadgetry – but the following choices ought to give you a great intro into the wonderful world of VR:
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with Gear
It’s possible to download any VR game from the Google Play store and use it with this headset, and whilst the Gear VR headset was compatible with just six phones at the time of writing, pick of the bunch is the Galaxy S7 Edge, sporting a 5.5 inch screen that can stream content for roughly three to four hours on a full charge.
Android phones have been able to access immersive virtual reality content for some time already, as VR games and experiences have been appearing on the Google Play store for over a year. However, Google is now taking mobile VR content seriously with its own Daydream VR platform.
Like Samsung’s Gear VR, the Daydream View headset offers access to exclusive games and virtual content, along with a well-designed one-handed controller that’s great for gaming. Like the Gear VR, Daydream is also compatible with very few handsets so far.
Google’s own Pixel XL phone will let you experience it, though. It’s also 5.5 inches long, and comes with a Quad HD screen too.
Alcatel Idol 4s
This is the best budget option, with a £400 bundle comprising a free headset that’s not too dissimilar to the Samsung Gear VR.
The phone itself is no slouch either, offering a solid 16-megapixel camera and decent battery life. Put it into the helmet, though, and you’ll get Quad technology with very little in the way of overheating.