Gear VR: A Look at Samsung's Virtual Reality Headset

Gear VR is an easy way to get into VR if you have a Samsung phone

The Gear VR line has been discontinued, and apps are no longer supported. You can use VR on your Samsung phone with Google Cardboard.

Gear VR is a virtual reality headset manufactured by Samsung in cooperation with Oculus VR. Unlike the Oculus Rift and other VR headsets, it's designed to use a Samsung phone as the display. Here's a look at the entire line of Samsung VR headsets.

How Does Samsung's VR Headset Work?

Samsung's Gear VR headset is similar to Google Cardboard in that it doesn't work without a phone. The hardware consists of a headset with straps to secure it in place, a touchpad and buttons on the side, and a place to insert a phone in the front. Special lenses are situated between the phone screen and the user's eyes, which help to create an immersive virtual reality experience.

Gear VR only works with Samsung phones, so people who own iPhones and Android phones made by manufacturers other than Samsung can't use it.

Samsung Gear VR SM-R325

Samsung Gear VR SM-325
The SM-325 added support for Galaxy Note 8 and retained the new wireless controller.

Samsung

Compatible phones: Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 edge, S8, S8+, Note 8, Note9 (with an adapter)
Field of view: 101 degrees
Weight: 345 grams
Controller input: Built in touchpad, wireless handheld controller
USB connection: USB-C, Micro USB
Released: September 2017

Gear VR SM-R325 was launched alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note8. Aside from the addition of support for the Note8, it remained largely unchanged from the previous version of the hardware. It comes with the Gear VR controller, and it is compatible with all of the same phones that the SM-324 supported.

Since this headset uses a USB-C connector, some phones like the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7, and other related devices can only be used with an adapter. It also works with the Galaxy Note9, which was released after this headset, with an adapter from Samsung.

Gear VR SM-R324

Samsung Gear VR SM-R324
The SM-R324 added a wireless controller. Samsung

Compatible phones: Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+
Field of view: 101 degrees
Weight: 345 grams
Controller input: Built-in touchpad, wireless handheld controller
USB connection: USB-C, Micro USB
Released: March 2017

Gear VR SM-R324 was launched to support the S8 and S8+ line of phones. The biggest change introduced with this version of the hardware came in the form of a controller. Controls were previously limited to a touchpad and buttons on the side of the unit.

The Gear VR controller is a small, wireless handheld device that duplicates the controls on the side of the headset, so it can be used to play all the games that were designed with those controls in mind. The controller also has a trigger and a limited amount of tracking, which means that some apps and games are able to use the position of the controller to represent your hand or any other object inside the virtual landscape.

Gear VR SM-R323

samsung gear vr sm-r323
The SM-R323 was launched to support the Note 7 and included support for USB-C. Samsung

Compatible phones: Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 Edge, Note 7 (deprecated)
Field of view: 101 degrees
Weight: 345 grams
Controller input: Built-in touchpad
USB connection: USB-C (adapter included for older phones)
Released: August 2016

Gear VR SM-R323 was introduced alongside the Galaxy Note 7, and it retained support for all of the phones that worked with the previous version of the hardware. The biggest change seen from the SM-R323 is that it moved away from the Micro USB connectors seen in earlier versions of the hardware. Instead, it included a USB-C connector to plug into a Note 7. An adapter was also included to maintain compatibility with older phones.

The look of the headset was also updated from a two-tone black-and-white design to all black, and other cosmetic changes were made as well. The redesign resulted in a unit that is a little bit lighter than the previous versions.

Gear VR SM-R322

Gear VR SM-R322
The SM-R322 featured a redesigned touchpad and was also lighter than earlier units. Samsung

Compatible phones: Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 Edge
Field of view: 96 degrees
Weight: 318 grams
Controller input: Built-in touchpad (improved over previous models)
USB connection: Micro USB
Released: November 2015

The Gear VR SM-R322 added support for an additional four devices, bringing the total number of supported phones up to six. The hardware was also redesigned to be lighter, and the touchpad was improved to make it easier to use.

Gear VR SM-R321

Gear VR SM-321
The SM-321 removed support for Note 4 and addes support for S6. Samsung

Compatible phones: Galaxy S6, S6 Edge
Field of view: 96 degrees
Weight: 409 grams
Controller input: Built-in touchpad
USB connection: Micro USB
Released: March 2015

The Gear VR SM-R321 was the first consumer version of the hardware. It dropped support for the Galaxy Note 4, added support for the S6 and S6 Edge, and also added a micro USB connector. This version of the hardware also introduced an internal fan that was meant to reduce lens fogging.

Gear VR Innovator Edition (SM-R320)

samsung gear vr sm-r320
The SR-320 was made available to developers and VR enthusiasts ahead of the official Gear VR consumer release. Samsung

Compatible phones: Galaxy Note 4
Field of view: 96 degrees
Controller input: Built-in touchpad
Weight: 379 grams
USB connection: None
Released: December 2014

Gear VR SM-R320, also sometimes referred to as the Innovator Edition, was the very first version of the hardware. It was introduced in December 2014 and provided mostly to developers and VR enthusiasts. It only supported a single phone, the Galaxy Note 4, and it's the only version of the hardware that supports that particular phone.

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