If you're already a fan of the Gear VR experience and want your next phone to offer the best possible upgrade, it's important to know the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are very different phones in VR. They're built to be similar for almost everything else, but inside the Gear VR there's going to be two major differences that make choosing the best experience a little complicated.
Here's what you need to know.
The Screen Door Effect
Nobody likes seeing that grid in the Gear VR when an all white background shows up somewhere, and in most cases avoiding that effect comes down to pixel density. Greater pixel density means greater immersion in VR, which is a big deal.
The smaller Galaxy S8 offers a 5.8-inch 2960x1440 display with 570 pixels per inch, which is great. The larger Galaxy S8 Plus, which offers a 6.2-inch display at that same 2960x1440 resolution, only offer 529ppi. It's noticeably fewer pixels on the screen, which means the screen door effect will be more noticeable.
While the display will be denser on the smaller version, it's worth pointing out Oculus has been working on UI enhancements to make the screen door effect generally less noticeable. This isn't something you'll find in every facet of the Gear VR experience for a long time, but it's something being addressed with hardware and software right now.
Larger screens consume more battery, which is why the Galaxy S8 Plus offers a 3500mAh battery and the Galaxy S8 battery is only 3000mAh. In normal daily phone use, your actual battery life is going to be about even between these two phones. That larger display doesn't actually get you anything in VR though, so your results are going to be a little different.
Samsung uses AMOLED displays, which means when the display is showing "black" what you're actually seeing is the pixels on that part of the screen being turned off completely. That means they're using no power at all, which is important in this context.
The Galaxy S8 Plus is a lot taller than the Galaxy S8, but it's not much wider. This means the two phones use a very similar amount of space on the display to project images into the Gear VR, leaving the rest of the display off. These two phones will consume nearly the same amount of power when acting as your Gear VR display, which means the larger battery in the Galaxy S8 Plus will offer you more VR on a single charge.
Which should you choose?
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is lighter, offers a more densely packed display, and includes all of the same processing power you get from the Galaxy S8 Plus. On the other hand, you'll be able to do more with the Galaxy S8 Plus and still be able to use your phone as a phone without necessarily needing to toss it on a charger.
Considering the rapid charging capabilities on the Samsung Galaxy series, the Galaxy S8 is going to offer you the most comfortable and immersive experience inside your Gear VR. You'll still have a great time with the larger Galaxy S8 Plus, but it's clear the smaller version will offer a little more.
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