If you don't have the Vive or Oculus Rift, your phone is 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. Samsung's Gear VR is leading that charge – especially thanks to its $99 price tag – but more are surely to follow soon.
Not just any phone is going to work with the Gear VR and not just any phone is up to snuff for VR anyway. There are a select few and here are the best.
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 2560x1440, 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!
Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 edge
Last year's flagships for Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, are also top of the class in terms of VR-ready smartphones. They're compatible with the Samsung Gear VR, have impressive 2560x1440 displays, octa-core Samsung Exynos processors, and multiple storage options (since expandable storage didn't make it to the Galaxy S6).
These phones will work with your Samsung Gear VR and/or Google Cardboard and they'll work well. One caveat of the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge is that their battery doesn't hold up all that well to intense use. If you plan on spending a while in VR, you're going to need a charger handy.
If you're after a phone that works very well with the Gear VR, won't cost as much as the Galaxy S7, and will still hold up over the next couple years, then check out the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 edge.
Check out Android Central's review for more!
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
If you're looking for a phone with plenty of screen real estate, then the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is perfect for you. Its 5.7-inch, 2560x1440 display is big and it's gorgeous. It even comes with the S Pen, a stylus that hides away nicely in the body of the phone.
Again, the Note 5 is totally compatible with the Samsung Gear VR, and it may even offer a more immersive experience, since it'll take up your entire field of vision. The other phones on this list do that too, but the screen's distance from your eyes is the same, so, obviously, the bigger the better!
With 4GB of RAM, the Note 5 is more than capable for use with Gear VR, and the battery is a decently sized 3,000mAh, which makes for tons of play time in VR land.
If you're looking for a nice big phone that comes with a stylus, a powerful processor, and an excellent camera, then check out the Note 5. Your inner VR addict will thank you.
Have a look at Android Central's review for more info!
HTC's 2016 flagship is beautiful to behold and easily the best phone to use with Google Cardboard. Yes, Google Cardboard works with many phones, but none will provide the same immersive audio experience that the HTC 10 is capable of. It's so great, they called it "BoomSound." Would you expect anything less than "Boom!"? Nope, and you shouldn't either.
If you're not wearing headphones, then the bottom-facing BoomSound woofer is perfect, since sound isn't shooting away from your face or into your eyeballs when you're wearing Google Cardboard. If you are wearing headphones, then you're in for a hell of a good time, since the headphone port has a dedicated amp, capable of pumping out up to 1V (it doesn't sound like a lot, but listen to music on an HTC 10 and then a Galaxy S7 and tell me there isn't a noticeable difference).
Thus, the HTC 10 is as immersive as it gets when it comes to Google Cardboard. You have a beautiful 2560x1440 display, impressive and powerful sound, and one of the best Android phones available.
Check out Android Central's review for more!
Don't forget the Vive app
Though only certain phones are going to be the best for your actual VR experience, HTC does offer a Vive app that keeps you connected to the real world while you're in VR.
It's available for Android and iOS and sends you notifications for calls, texts, and calendar events while in VR, so that you don't miss anything while you're off training to become a space pirate and/or shooting zombies in an empty lot.
Your notifications will even appear in your System Dashboard so that you can view them later.
What about you?
Is compatibility with the Gear VR a driving force behind your choice of phone? Sound off in the comments below!