What are the best smartphones to enjoy virtual reality?

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The popularity of virtual reality on smartphones disappeared as quickly as it came. Now the market is at half mast, even if some devices still exist and always work with dedicated VR headsets.

The old Samsung Gear VR headset // Source: Hammer & Tusk – Unsplash

The expansion of virtual reality has come from laptops and has taken over smartphones. However, few manufacturers are interested in this technology for various reasons. Samsung and LG are the only brands that have tried the bet. Now, VR-enabled phones can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

It is not ruled out that the technology returns to our pockets, especially since there are still many applications and helmets alone. The name of VR smartphones is a bit outdated, but it’s worth explaining which smartphones have taken an interest in this technology. Even the best smartphones of 2023 are no longer interested in the metaverse.

What is a good smartphone to enjoy virtual reality?

We are not going to explain here how virtual reality works on the screen of a smartphone. What you have to remember is that to view content correctly in a helmet, whatever it may be, viewing content in virtual reality requires two screens. On a smartphone, the device’s screen will be sliced ​​in half at its center, displaying left-eye and right-eye content.

As the screen is halved, the resolution is also halved. So, to have the best possible VR display on a smartphone, you need to have a screen with definition and ideally with the highest possible resolution. This explains why we recommend that you prefer smartphones equipped with QHD screens, the definition of which is 2560 × 1440. Also, even with such thin screens, users of virtual reality headsets will still see a grid of pixels to display in the background. of a content. This does not prevent using a smartphone with a “single” Full HD screen (1920 × 1080 pixels), but the visual aspect will necessarily disappoint.

Sony would have prepared a VR headset. // Source: Xperia Blog

Another important thing to consider is the display (update) speed of the phone screen. The faster it is, the better it is for VR so as not to have the extremely unpleasant feeling that the content displayed on the screen is slightly scrolling with your head movements. And from this point of view, there is no secret, currently only AMOLED screens meet fast display conditions. It is possible to play games with IPS LCD screens, but the experience is much less good.

Last but not least: because there is twice as much content on the screen, the components are used twice, which makes smartphones heat up very quickly. In general, basic or mid-range devices should be avoided. Anyway, the vast majority of the smartphones that we present below are premium devices.

Samsung: Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 with their headphones

This generation of smartphones from the Asian brand introduced virtual reality with a dedicated viewer. First of all thanks to the technical sheet of the two products. In this case, both devices have an AMOLED screen with Full HD definition. Above all, the internal power orchestrated by an Exynos 8895 processor that allows running the dedicated software. This also prevents unexpected overheating.

The real added value of these Samsung smartphones is the dedicated virtual reality headset. The Gear VR is certainly a limited device, but it works very well with both phones. These were also compatible with the Daydream VR platform before Google decided to simply remove this software.

Today, the topic is no longer mentioned at Samsung, which politely evacuates the topic at every keynote despite the technical improvement of smartphones.

Google: Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL with Daydream

Like Samsung, Google has also wanted to make a name for itself in the virtual reality sector for smartphones. With its US market-exclusive Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, the manufacturer also offered the Google Daydream, a wearable VR headset that can be used with the devices.

Both devices are powered by a Snapdragon 835, but above all powerful screens. 6 inches for the XL version and 5 for the Pixel 2. As is often the case with Google projects, virtual reality was then put aside, never to be staged again.

Apple: a virtual reality headset that is the object of all fantasies

Apple Mixed Reality Headset
Apple would work on a VR/AR viewer // Source: AppleTrack Edition

As always, the American company took its time on the subject. A possible virtual reality headset from Apple was the topic of all the rumors. However, during the last WWDC, RealityOS was especially ubiquitous despite its absence. Despite its surprising strength, Tim Cook’s company has never fully entered the field of virtual reality.

Especially since iPhones are always well equipped in terms of technical specifications to make content in virtual reality. Similarly, the range of iPhones are large screen smartphones. So there would be real potential for VR at Apple.

What future for smartphones and the metaverse?

Recently, the metaverse has become an important topic in new technologies. However, smartphone makers are still struggling to fully engage on the issue. It was the Asian company HTC, a major player in VR, that announced the development of a VR smartphone without giving any further information.

At the same time, do not hesitate to consult our guide to buy virtual reality glasses.

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