Oculus and Samsung have worked together for many years to create a portable, powerful virtual reality solution using some of the most popular phones on the planet. In doing so, the Gear VR has become one of the brightest and most active VR headsets available today. For all its strengths, it still requires you to use your phone and drain your battery to get the best experience. With everything it’s learned about mobile computing and the VR experience, Oculus is ready to offer an alternative to the phone-powered portable VR headset. It’s called the Oculus Go, and it’s coming out later this year at a price point aimed at getting people to ask questions using Gear VR or this new headset.
It’s not an easy decision, especially if you’re already part of the Gear VR ecosystem, but here’s what you can expect when looking at these headsets side by side.
The Oculus Go is designed to be a «standalone» VR headset. This means that instead of sticking a phone into a slot that would act as a brain, the computer, display, and hardware are baked right into the headset. The only thing a computer should ever do is show you a VR experience, but it should do this. very OK. With that in mind, here’s how these headsets compare on paper.
|line of sight
|3 GB RAM
|4 GB RAM
|Internal speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack
|Phone speaker, 3.5mm headphone jack
|32 GB, 64 GB
|64 GB internal memory, microSD slot
|LCD (1280×1280 @ 72Hz)
|AMOLED (1024×1024 usable at 60Hz)
|3DoF Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer
|3DoF Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer
Several things stick out at once. First, it’s very unlikely that Gear VR will ever be able to offer the long-term virtual reality experience you can get from an Oculus Go with its dedicated battery. Even if you’re interested in completely emptying your Galaxy S9+, it won’t last as long as this headset. The built-in speakers in Oculus Go will sound much better than your phone’s speakers because the Oculus Go’s speakers are designed for surround sound and also because the Samsung phone in Gear VR is far away from your ears. However, if you plan to use headphones most of the time, the sound will probably be very similar.
Check out our hands on Oculus Go for more!
But the big difference here will be in the display. Oculus has managed to increase the eye buffer on the Go display so that more pixels can be used to render your eyes. On the Gear VR, the display isn’t really built for this experience, so only 1024×1024 pixels can be used to create visible visuals. The Oculus Go will be able to use 1280×1280, which will make a big difference inside the headset. Combined with fixed fake rendering, the new technology that Oculus uses to make the details of the borders of your vision cost less GPU, and this headset, which seems less powerful on paper, will actually match or outperform Gear VR in many cases. visual areas.
“The next generation lenses are our best in the world, offering a wide field of view with greatly reduced flare.”
Another particularly important detail when comparing these two headsets is the field of view (FoV) of the lenses. Samsung slowly increased the field of view on the Gear VR until it reached its current level of 101-degree measurement, which is close to what you get with more desktop VR experiences. In the meantime, the Oculus Go Developer Blog doesn’t give us too much information about FoV.
It’s no surprise that these headsets look and feel that way on the outside given how closely Samsung and Oculus have worked together, but obviously those experiences won’t be the same when you use the headsets.
Oculus supports all Gear VR software. When you install the Gear VR software on your phone, you install the Oculus Store and Oculus Runtime. You can’t even use your Samsung payment tools to buy VR apps, it all goes through Oculus services. Samsung makes a couple of great Gear VR apps, but Oculus is pretty much backing and supporting the experience. With Oculus Go, a company is moving from managing all software in an OS created by another company to controlling the entire process from top to bottom. When it comes to software, there shouldn’t be much difference between Oculus Go and Gear VR, but it turns out there will be some important initial limitations.
At launch, the Samsung Gear VR will still have significantly more apps than the Oculus Go. Oculus says it should be easy for Gear VR developers to port apps to Oculus Go, but that doesn’t mean every developer will want to. In terms of retail packaging, we’ve already seen several popular VR apps available on the Oculus Go, but so far there’s very little indication that the total number of apps will be anywhere near the same as Gear Gear currently has. The biggest difference for developers moving to Go with Gear VR is the ability to optimize the new features available. Oculus says some Gear VR games will be able to hit 72FPS on the go with some optimization, where on Gear VR the entire experience is capped at 72FPS. It may seem like a small hit, but it brings these «mobile» headsets closer to the 90FPS standard seen on «desktop» VR headsets, and it’s a big deal.
Considering how similar these headsets are, it’s no surprise that this change will happen quickly. We know that developers are eager to port games to Go, and many we spoke to found the process very easy. With the same basic head tracking and motion control systems in both headsets, since Oculus can demonstrate that people are actually buying this headset, there is little reason for developers to support just one platform.