Samsung Gear VR SM-R325
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Samsung Gear VR With Controller Review And Game Play On The Galaxy S9 & S9+ 2018 Verizon
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Samsung Gear VR SM-R325 - Specification

UsageFor PCFor SmartphonesFor quadcopter
Operating systemMinimum system requirements
Body345gram345 gram207×99×121mm.
TypeAvailabilityAR - See-through
SizeN/ASmartphone screenPresentField of view horizontal101°
AdjustingFocal lengthLens diameter
SynchronizationAndroidiOSBlackberryWindowsMac OSLinuxWebPlayStation
SupportSteamVROculus HomeWindows Mixed RealityGear VR
USBCharger connector
SoundHeadphone input 3.5mm
ContentsTouch control panelControl consoleUSB holder

Samsung Gear VR overview

(from 2018 — Samsung Galaxy VR) is a virtual reality headset developed by Samsung and Oculus. It belongs to the mobile VR segment where a smartphone is absolutely necessary to make these devices work. This gadget is compatible only with Samsung flagships starting from the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge models. It does not require a connection to the PC. Gear VR is the best option to get acquainted with the virtual reality for the first time if you have a Samsung smartphone. In other cases, there are more affordable and productive alternatives. Let's deal more precisely with its features.
Samsung had been working on the virtual reality devices since 2005, when it took out a patent on HMD — head-mounted displays. In 2013, a separate team for the VR development appeared, and a year later the Oculus experts known for the Rift and Go headsets joined this team. The first prototype was shown at the IFA exhibition on September 3, 2014. The test model labeled SM-R320 was released in December 2014, but it did not go on sale on a mass market. The gadget was supposed to demonstrate the VR capabilities and to show the developers how to work with the system. The prototype worked only with Samsung Galaxy Note 4, modern glasses with this smartphone are incompatible. The company produces new iterations 1-2 times a year.

In 2018, Samsung decided to rename the Gear VR range Galaxy VR. This is a result of a common policy to simplify names, and there are also trademarks of Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Fit. The next generation of glasses with a new name can be waited for this autumn.

Apart from the prototype SM-R320 which is not available to regular users, there are five versions in the range:
Viewing angle90°90°100°100°100°
ColourWhiteWhiteDark greyDark greyDark grey
Launch dateMarch 2015November 2015August 2016March 2017September 2018
Supported smartphonesS6, S6 EdgeS6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 EdgeIs not releasedS6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, Note Fan EditionS6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, Note Fan Edition, Note 8, A8, A8+, S9 and S9+.
Each next iteration supports the previous smartphones, but not vice versa. Therefore, the SM-R325 works with a full list. SM-R323 was stopped to be released because of problems with the Note 7 model for which the glasses were made.

The latest version costs 130 USD on the official website, 100 USD on Amazon, but you can find a markdown up to 50 USD.

Pros of Samsung Gear VR

Convenient design. Compared to Google Daydream View, the Samsung gadget may seem to be large. But you do not get tired of it even after two hours of playing, your face does not sweat, and the patch around your eyes is soft and reliable.
Easy setup and installation. You do not need to connect a lot of wires, cameras or base stations. To enable the device, just insert the Samsung smartphone into the front panel and log into your Oculus account.
Economical battery use. During one hour of playing or watching a movie the smartphone battery discharges at a maximum of 30%, this is a good indicator. For comparison, standalone VRs work no longer than 2.5 hours without recharging.
Access to the Oculus store. There are more than a thousand games, virtual rooms, players and movies. It is one of the best content libraries for the mobile VRs.

Cons of Samsung Gear VR

Low quality of VR. The system works from a smartphone, so it depends directly on its screen and processor. Even in the top flagships of 2018 the picture can twitch and break up into pixels.
It does not recognize movements. There are no sensors in the system that track body or hand movements. Therefore, the control is limited to the turnings of the head with glasses and one hand with the controller.
Limited smartphones support. There are only 14 models, all of them are Samsung flagships, and new ones cannot be installed in obsolete versions of glasses. Competitors have only a limited screen size.
No adjustment for IPD. The distance between the lenses cannot be set manually, which is inconvenient. Because of the fixed parameter people with different interpupillary distance can see the picture as being distorted and fuzzy.

Competitors of Samsung Gear VR

Many users compare the gadget with Oculus Rift and other connected headsets. Sometimes Oculus Go is also considered to be a competitor. In both cases this is incorrect: the flagship headsets are much more powerful and better in the picture quality because they use the PC and console hardware, and standalone devices work from their own processors. Therefore, we compare Gear VR with mobile systems that work from smartphones:

  • Google Daydream View. It is the main competitor of the gadget from Samsung. Versions of 2017 are almost identical in technical characteristics, but Google has made a more compact and convenient gadget. Daydream View supports more smartphones, including S8/S8+, but has less applications. The price is 100 USD.
  • Zeiss One Plus. In its design it is the closest option to Gear VR, but it is suitable for smartphones working on iOS and Android with a diagonal of 4.7-5.5 inches. It has quality optics from Zeiss. It supports augmented reality. There is an open source code, but there are not enough applications yet. The price is 70 USD on the official website and from 15 USD on Amazon.
  • Merge VR Goggles. Like Daydream View, this gadget is made of a smooth to the touch soft material instead of plastic. The glasses are universal for smartphones with a 4–7-inch diagonal and also allow you to adjust the distance between the lenses. They are suitable for children from 10 years. The price is 30 USD.
You can also recall Google Cardboard or Xiaomi Mi VR Play for 10 USD-15 USD, but this is the cheapest segment with the corresponding minimum quality. In fact, Google Daydream View remains to be the only important competitor which outperforms Samsung Gear VR due to the fact that it supports more smartphones and it is more comfortable to wear, but it is worse in software.

Google Daydream View vs Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR design and ergonomics

The device body is made of solid dark gray plastic. From the inside, the mask along the perimeter is covered with a soft foam pad, it fits the face comfortably and tightly. It is fixed with two straps with Velcros on the head — with horizontal and vertical ones. The smartphone place is covered with a plastic cover. The kit also contains a controller and a holder for it. The disadvantage of the design — you cannot play in prescription glasses.
If you have already used Samsung Gear VR before, then there will be no problems with its control. If you have not, you'll have to get used to it. The headset has several key elements:

  • Upper edge — there is a small wheel in the centre that adjusts the distance between the smartphone screen and the lenses. The more precise the setting is, the sharper the image is. IPD is not adjusted.
  • Right side — there is a large sensor area in the centre slightly recessed into the body. Above it are the "Back" and "Home" buttons. They are used to control games and menus.
  • Front panel — there are clamps for the smartphone on both sides, and there is a USB connector below on the right. It is interchangeable, i.e. you can install USB-C or micro-USB in the socket, both items are included in the kit.
  • Inside — in addition to the lenses, there is a proximity sensor here that automatically turns off when a user takes off glasses.
The glasses are quite comfortable. With the appearance of the upper strap the weight (which is on average 435 grams) became better distributed, it is not transferred completely forward even with a heavy smartphone. Compared with the previous model, the gadget itself became a bit lighter. Thanks to a pair of miniature fans, the face does not sweat even after one hour or even one hour and a half. After two hours you begin to get tired. Sometimes the lenses fog up.
Left Side

Samsung Gear VR display and lenses

A system of double lenses standard for VR is installed in the glasses. It expands the image from the screen and creates the effect of natural vision. The viewing angle in the last three generations models is 101 degrees, before it was less — 90-95 degrees. In computer and console headsets this figure is 110 degrees. But in Samsung Gear VR the immersion effect is also fully felt thanks to the isolation from the external light.

The image is far from ideal because it is transmitted from the smartphone screen. Blur, pixels, a decrease in quality at the edges, a feeling of cartoon graphics where you do not need it — these are all common phenomena for mobile VRs. It means that a complete illusion of real life cannot be achieved. In all fairness it should be mentioned that even top headsets do not produce such an effect either.
The display does not have glasses because they work from the smartphone. So the quality depends on the Samsung model which you install. All compatible flagships produced since 2015 offer a screen resolution of 2560x1440, and S8/S8+ — even 2960x1440. Therefore, even with old phones VR works quite well, but not much else.
Inside part with lenses

Samsung Gear VR controller

In the last two versions (SM-R324 and SM-R325), the controller is included in the kit. It looks good, matte plastic almost does not collect fingerprints, and it is convenient to hold it in hand because of the curved shape. It is powered by two AAA batteries, they are also in the box. They are enough for 80 hours. There is also a strap, so that the gadget does not fall off the hand, and a cloth clamp with the help of which the controller is attached to the headset.
Let’s deal with control:
  • Touch zone at the top panel, it is suitable for navigation.
  • The "Back" button returns to the previous menu.
  • The Home button goes to the main screen. Both buttons are under the touchpad.
  • Volume rocker under the buttons adjusts the sound from the smartphone speakers or headphones.
  • Trigger under the sensor zone works like a trigger and a simple selection of objects.
  • The light indicator above the Samsung label displays a Bluetooth connection or a sleep mode.
Buttons are also used to enter the settings menu, controller connection and positioning. Batteries are in the rear part under the trigger, and the strap holder is at the bottom end under the Samsung label.

The joystick set of functions depends on a particular game. Nine axes in theory mean that the device supports movement in space and turnings. But in practice not all games recognize movement. There are no problems with turnings and directions giving.

Samsung Gear VR controller

Samsung Gear VR principle of operation

Like any mobile VR device, the Samsung gadget cannot work without a connected smartphone. So, games and movies are shown on the phone's display, and lenses transmit the picture into the eyes. Performance, autonomy and quality also directly depend on the smartphone hardware, i.e. the more advanced the flagship you connect to the glasses is, the better the system works.

For example, from Samsung Galaxy S8 on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset with 4 GB of RAM available games and movies work smoothly, albeit with pixels. After 2 hours in the virtual reality the smartphone almost does not heat up, and the battery consumption is up to 40%. It is logical that on old smartphones Samsung Gear VR will work worse, there may be lags, slowdowns and low resolution of pictures.
Since the glasses and the controller do not support physical movements, you can play anywhere and in any position. Samsung advises users to do it while sitting on a swivel chair.

Software and games for Samsung Gear VR

To get started, you will need to download the Oculus application for Android 5.0+. This is a basic program that will configure the system and open access to the virtual space with the store of other applications.

The list of available content is on the official website, there are about 1400 games in total, of which 700 are free. These are mainly casual games, demo videos and virtual rooms. The games are simple and almost without any plot, which is standard for Oculus. There are advanced titles such as Minecraft and Hitman GO. Frankly speaking, there are a lot of low-quality demos, so it's better to choose them based on reviews and ratings. What’s more, each game is marked by a level of comfort — quick action games often cause nausea and dizziness.
Native applications support usual and VR video and movies. You can install third-party players to watch YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. Through a built-in browser it is convenient to watch websites and videos without downloading applications. The text is not very readable yet because of low resolution.
One more advantage of Samsung Gear VR — educational features. A first-aid training program is already built into the glasses. There are documentaries in the store with the effect of immersion, travel around the world, the solar system or inside the human body. In virtual rooms, for example, Oculus Rooms, you can also study, watch movies or chat with friends.

Samsung Gear VR packaging and arrangement

The standard packaging of the latest generation is a large box with labels and technical characteristics on the side edge. The kit includes:
  • Samsung Gear VR glasses.
  • Head straps.
  • Samsung controller.
  • Hand strap.
  • Mount for controller.
  • 2 AAA batteries.
  • USB holder.
  • User guide.
A bit more about the holder. In fact, this is a mount for the USB connector. It comes from the box with the micro-USB inside, with the USB-C already installed in the glasses. If you need to connect an old smartphone, then simply remove the micro-USB from the holder to replace the USB-C in the lower right part of the Gear VR front panel.

Samsung Gear VR box

The hidden costs of purchasing Samsung Gear VR

The only thing you need for a full system operation and what there is not in the box is a smartphone. Samsung S6 or S6 Edge are the cheapest, but also the least productive options at the price from 170 USD to 200 USD. The most expensive will be the top Samsung Galaxy S9+ which is sold on Amazon for 800 USD. Therefore, the total price will be from 220 USD to 930 USD.

Accessories for Samsung Gear VR

For a change, in addition to the VR system you can buy the following items:

  • SteelSeries Status XL gamepad, 40 USD. It is recommended by the manufacturer. It is a wireless joystick similar to the original Xbox controllers. It gives more control options, but there are not many games for it.
  • MOGA Pro gamepad, 40 USD. It is also a wireless option with a fastening for a smartphone, i.e. it will be useful not only in the virtual reality. It has its own library of games.
  • Samsung Gear 360 camera, 95 USD. It can record video in the 360 degrees format, which then can be edited, modified and watched in VR. In fact, it is an advanced webcam.
  • Headphones, 10 USD+. Since there are no loudspeakers for the glasses, you will have to listen to music via the smartphone. It is much more convenient to buy headphones — there are a lot of options, including in-ear headphones or large headsets.
For Your Information. The rest of the joysticks and gamepads are not officially marked by Oculus. This means that they can work, but sometimes they may fail.
Moreover, on the Oculus and Amazon websites, you can buy an additional controller. It will be useful to owners of old Samsung Gear VR versions which were sold without joysticks in the kit. It costs 40 USD.

Samsung Gear VR installation and setting up

Before installing, download the Oculus application on your smartphone and go into your account. Then insert the gadget into the mounts and plug it into the USB connector, detailed instructions are provided in the box and on the Internet. It's quite simple and it takes about five minutes. Then the headset calibration will take one more additional minute.
After the downloading opens the virtual space — home with screens where you can configure the system, choose and download games, and run applications. The control is performed by the touch panels in the glasses and in the controller, but it is much more to do it with voice, although the feature is under beta testing yet.

As a result, the whole setup takes no more than 30 minutes, including the virtual reality checking and selecting of the first applications. There are no wires and cameras, all sensors — inside the glasses and smartphone.
Virtual keyboard

Problems with the device and recommendations for Samsung Gear VR usage

There are no critical errors and bugs in Samsung Gear VR, but there are several things that can spoil the impression of its usage. As for the hardware, all processes occur in the smartphone, so first of all check it. Owners of the old flagships, for example, of the S6 model note that the phone becomes very hot during the game. The solution is to sit in a chair directly opposite the fan. It was not noticed in new smartphones.
Remember that virtual reality can cause nausea and dizziness regardless of the glasses used. In case with Samsung Gear VR, the main problem is the unregulated distance between the lenses, which reduces the quality, distorts the image and makes the brain and eyes tired. Try to adjust the focal length with the help of a small wheel, this can compensate for the problem. And always stop playing if you feel badly. 1,5–2 hours are usually enough for the full immersion.

To configure and test the system, use the Universal menu. To open it, hold down the "Back" button on the headset when it is turned on and is put on the head. In the menu you can:

  • Enable / disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • Enable Do Not Disturb mode to stop calls and messages.
  • Look through the straight-through smartphone camera at the real world.
  • Calibrate the image and adjust it to the viewing angle.
  • Adjust the volume and brightness.
There is a PDF-instruction in English on the Internet. Useful information and answers can also be found on the Oculus support website, in the Gear VR section.

Reviews about Samsung Gear VR

Users mention the assembly quality, good design and ergonomics, the full effect of immersion in the virtual reality, control through the controller. But the image quality with a pixel grid, insufficient updating rate and overheating in old smartphones make you tired and do not allow to enjoy VR to the full.

There are many complaints about the Oculus content store where the best games and videos must be paid for and there are few free applications. At the same time savvy users have already found a lot of ways how to install third-party games and even to stream content from the PC. Instructions can be found on 4PDA.
Samsung Gear VR is a great headset to learn about the virtual reality if you have a supported smartphone. At the same time on the electronics sites you can find past generations with a significant markdown up to 20 USD for SM-R322 (suitable for S6 and S7). If there are no Samsung flagships, then look for more affordable options, for example, standalone VR headsets.

Samsung Gear VR SM-R325 - Alternatives

Showing 1-10 of 10 items.
PhotoUSDTitle px.AngleHz.MPGr.
Google Glass 3.01,796Google Glass 3.0   640×36013°36
VR Box VR 2.07VR Box VR 2.0  4.5 – 6"100°350
BOBOVR Z421BOBOVR Z4  4.7 – 6.2"120°410
HIPER VRX14HIPER VRX  4.3 – 6"360
Xiaomi Mi VR 227Xiaomi Mi VR 2 103°
HIPER VRW13HIPER VRW  4.3 – 6"390
HIPER VRQ+18HIPER VRQ+  4.3 – 6"380
Remax VR Fantasyland7Remax VR Fantasyland  4.5 – 6"
Buro VR-3697Buro VR-369  4.7 – 6"345
BOBOVR Z539BOBOVR Z5 4.7 – 6.2"120°350

Samsung Gear VR SM-R325 - Comparison

Brand Samsung Google VR BOBOVR
Model Gear VR Glass 2.0 Box VR 2.0 Z4
Min. price USD
Announced 2017
Release 2017/09/15 2017
For Smartphones
Total weight 345 gram 36 gram
Body weight 345 gram 350 gram 410 gram
Dimensions 207×99×121 mm. 200×110×130 mm. 215×120×195 mm.
AR - See-through
Smartphone screen
Smartphone screen size 4.5 – 6 inches 4.7 – 6.2 inches
Field of view horizontal 101 ° 13 ° 100 ° 120 °
Resolution 640×360 px.
Focal length
Lens diameter 42 42 42
Capacity 570 mAh
Operating system
Minimum system requirements Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge устройства на базе Android 4.0.3 и iOS 7.x
Oculus Home
Gear VR
Internal memory
Capacity 16Gb
RAM size 2Gb
Front camera
Resolution 5 MP
Video recording
Video recording options 720p
Headphone input 3.5mm
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Charger connector
Touch control panel
Control console
USB holder
Proximity sensor