Phone base VR headsets have made firing on pirates in space or catching your favorite television show where nobody can interrupt you easier than ever. Of course, since your VR headset runs off of your phone, you can run into issues. One of the biggest things that can go wrong is if you accidentally manage to crack your screen. While even a small crack can seem out of the way and inconsequential can have a serious negative impact on your gameplay.
What happens if I try to play VR with a cracked screen?
Your phone is what makes VR in Daydream or Gear VR doable. It's not only the processor that runs the experiences that you see, it's also the screen that you view those experiences on. If there is a crack in the screen and you try to jump into VR, you may see striations of light, or waves distortion that sort of run across your screen. These mean that your phone is definitely not suitable for VR anymore.
Additionally, if you try to play in VR then you're probably going to run into some problems. Namely, games won't load up properly on your screen or will get stuck on a loading screen. It's obviously less than ideal, but when you game won't load, you can bet it's linked to that crack on the side of your screen.
Why should I avoid VR if my phone screen is cracked?
Aside from the obvious problem where your phone is unable to open many VR apps with a cracked screen, you can also do some pretty serious damage to yourself. Remember that when you have a headset on, your eyes are mere inches away from the screen.
This means that if your phone is showing waves of distortion, or flickering that may not be super obvious when held at an arms length, it's going to be right up in your face. Even just a few moments of this kind of stimuli to your eyes can have some pretty negative effects. These run the gamut from headaches, eye strain, and nausea. So if you want to actually enjoy VR, be sure to leave VR alone until you've fixed that crack in your screen.
Additionally, it's worthwhile to remember that while you might only see a small hairline crack in your screen, there could be far more damage to the components that are out of eyeshot. Many of these are fragile, like your accelerometer, and they are absolutely required to ensure that your phone can run VR. For instance, if your accelerometer is damaged, you won't be able to play VR even if you get the screen fixed because your phone is unable to properly process your movements in real time.
How do I fix it?
Unlike many other issues caused in VR, there isn't an easy way to troubleshoot this issue. Your best bet is going to be opting in on that handy insurance plan that your phone provided offers and paying the $100 up front for them to send you out a new phone.
While there are places that can fix just a screen, this may not solve all of your issues. Primarily because depending on the severity of the drop that cracked your screen, you may have damaged components inside the device. Namely, if your accelerometer has been damaged, then fixing your cracked screen isn't going to be of much use because the internals won't be working correctly.
That's why we suggest heading to your provider and opting for a replacement device. It isn't ideal, but you can avoid this problem in the future by keeping your phone secure in a case when you aren't actively using it for VR. If you're determined not to go that route you can always try to replace the screen yourself. We don't recommend doing this as damage to interior components may still be present but you can find tutorials on iFixit for both Google's Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S8.
While nobody wants to bail on everything that VR can offer, especially when those experiences are powered by your phone. However, playing it safe is a good call when you're enjoying VR. This means that if tragedy strikes and you crack your screen, it's time to pack away that headset until you can get it fixed. After all nobody wants to ruin their eyes, or wind up getting sick because of something a small as a hairline crack. Have you run into this problem before?
Did you have to replace your phone screen? Let us know about it in the comments below, or drop us a line in the forums!