Samsung’s just-announced Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus won’t be compatible with Gear VR, the company’s virtual reality headset that works only with a cellphone slotted in front of the lenses, Samsung confirms to The Verge following an earlier report by tech analyst Anshel Sag. The choice to shut off assist for its headset on its latest flagship phones casts doubt on the way forward for both the Gear VR and other headsets that use phones as their screen and processor, as standalone devices with built-in displays like the Oculus Quest are on the rise.
We stay dedicated to innovating in VR and AR to deliver incredible new experiences to our consumers,” Samsung said.
Samsung didn’t mention Gear VR once throughout its Unpacked event, and it hasn’t updated the headset since 2017. The most recent phones to support it were all four of the Galaxy S10 phone models announced in February, however only through an adapter. The Gear VR still has a product page on Samsung’s store, but it doesn’t seem to be available for purchase there anymore. You can again purchase it on Amazon for $99.99.
Regardless of Samsung’s decision, Gear VR should have a life ahead of it, as my colleague Adi Robertson has written. The device was bundled with previous Samsung phones, remains to be compatible with many older models of Samsung phones, and is used as a device to showcase VR at events like film festivals. Until standalone headsets drop in price, Gear VR stays one of many lowest-value methods to bring VR into classrooms and events beyond the DIY efforts like Google Cardboard. It’s additionally still receiving app updates and new releases alongside newer models.
However, with Gear VR not being compatible with Samsung’s latest flagship phone, and with Google announcing in May that the Pixel 3A wouldn’t support Android’s built-in Daydream platform, it’s hard not to assume that phone-based VR could also be on the decline.