Since the Galaxy S6 debuted in 2015, every S and Note handset has been compatible with Gear VR: Samsung’s mobile virtual reality headset, where the phone can be plugged in for 360-degree games and video. Okay, there was no physical body tracking like you get with PSVR, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, but the wire-free solution certainly has its charms.
But those charms won’t be available to buyers of the Galaxy Note 10. A Samsung spokesperson told Engadget that “The Gear VR is not compatible with Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus. “We remain committed to innovating in VR and AR to deliver incredible new experiences to our consumers.”
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It’s not the most revealing of statements, and ‘commitment’ can mean different things to different people. It could be that Samsung is noodling away on a true follow up to the Gear VR – maybe even a standalone device – or it could simply mean that it’s playing a game of ‘wait and see’, with no immediate plans to jump back in unless it sees an opportunity to innovate. And, more importantly, to sell something in serious numbers.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to see this being the last nail in the coffin for dedicated mobile VR platforms. While Samsung still lists Gear VR on its website, it isn’t available to buy there, and the S10 and Note 9 only worked on it via an adapter. Presumably Samsung monitored the uptake of these adapters and concluded it just wasn’t worth including with the Note 10.
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With Google revealing that the Pixel 3a doesn’t support Daydream View – its own VR platform – it looks like dedicated headsets may be the way forward. But until Oculus Quest and its ilk drop in price, the Gear VR and an old Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7 might be the best way for people to dip their toes into virtual reality experiences on the cheap.
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