We round up the best VR-ready mobile phones, which offer an immersive experience for virtual reality gaming and enjoying VR experiences and movies.
Interest in VR has hugely increased in 2016, helped by the likes of Samsung giving away free headsets with their smartphones. Nowadays most mobile phones can deliver virtual reality content to your eyeballs, meaning you can play VR games and enjoy immersive experiences in your living room.
But what mobile phones are best if you want to get started with VR? Here we take a look at the best handsets for virtual reality, and tell you everything you need to know about enjoying VR games and movies on your phone.
Best phone for VR: What do I need to enjoy VR on my mobile?
First things first. To get started with virtual reality, you’ll need two things: a VR headset and a compatible smartphone. We’ll cover the best phones for virtual reality below, and you can take a look at our guide to the best VR headsets for inspiration on which helmet to buy. Luckily some of them are very reasonable indeed, costing from just a few pounds for the cardboard models.
If you need to know more, we’ve compiled a handy ‘how to enjoy VR on your phone’ guide, which should clue you in.
Best phone for VR: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge with Gear VR
One of the best platforms for mobile VR is Samsung’s own Gear VR. Samsung has really pushed Gear VR in 2016, even giving away the headsets for free with its flagship devices. You can download any VR game from the Google Play store and it should work perfectly, while the Samsung Gear VR store offers up exclusive virtual reality videos and games to play.
The Gear VR headset is compatible with just two phones right now, namely the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge. Both of these top-end mobiles boast a crisp Quad HD screen, so you’ll not get much in the way of pixelation when viewing VR content.
Our pick is the Galaxy S7 Edge, which at 5.5-inches offers a spacious viewing panel. However, the 5.1-inch Galaxy S7 certainly works just fine, and technically offers sharper visuals. Both handsets are powerful enough to deal with the latest VR games and can stream content for roughly three to four hours on a full charge. However, they do tend to heat up after an hour or so.
Best phone for VR: Google Pixel XL with Daydream View
Android phones have been able to access immersive virtual reality content for some time already, as VR games and experiences have been appearing on the Google Play store for over a year. However, Google is now taking mobile VR content seriously with its own Daydream VR platform.
Like Samsung’s Gear VR, the Daydream View headset offers access to exclusive games and virtual content, along with a well-designed one-handed controller that’s great for gaming. Like the Gear VR, Daydream is also compatible with very few handsets so far.
Google’s own Pixel XL phone is your best bet for experiencing Daydream VR right now. This 5.5-inch beast packs a Quad HD screen just like the Galaxy S7 Edge, so you’re really immersed in whatever virtual content you choose to digest.
The Snapdragon 821 processor can handle anything you throw at the phone, even demanding titles like Layers of Fear Solitude. And you get an impressive four to five hours of action per charge – although you’ll likely want to take a break sooner, to save your vision and also keep the handset from reaching boiling point.
Best phone for VR: Alcatel Idol 4s
If you want to try VR without splashing out on a pricey flagship, then we heartily recommend the Alcatel Idol 4s. This £400 mobile comes bundled with a free VR headset that’s not too dissimilar to the Samsung Gear VR.
The phone itself is well-specced, offering a solid 16-megapixel camera, decent battery life and more besides. But slip it inside Alcatel’s helmet and the phone really proves its worth, with the Quad HD screen belting out some crisp and colourful visuals. It doesn’t get too toasty either.