So Google has finally unveiled its Daydream VR headset, the Daydream View. It will be available in November for $79 and will start the mobile VR war between Samsung’s Oculus powered Gear VR and Google’s Daydream VR. In this comparison, we pit the two VR headsets against each other to find out which device is the better headset.

Host Devices

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Let’s start with the host devices that you can put into the headsets to drive the VR experience.

The Google Daydream View accepts the Google Pixel phones that have just been unveiled and all future Android devices that are “Daydream-ready”, meaning they satisfy the specs set out by Google to work well with Daydream. At the moment there are two phones that already on the market, the ZTE Axon 7 and the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, but all major phone manufacturers have announced Daydream-ready phones.

The Gear VR works with the latest Samsung devices only. You can use the Note 5, as well as all latest Galaxy models from the S6 and S7 series (including the Note 7). It is very likely that future Samsung phones will also work with Gear VR.

Winner: Daydream View. Google’s platform is simply more versatile since it will be able to accept any phone that is Daydream-ready. 

Build

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Google pointed out how comfy its Daydream View headset is. The devices is made from soft jersey fabric and Google worked together with a clothes manufacturer to make this happen.

The Gear VR is mostly hard plastic with fabric and foam components.

Winner: Daydream View. Google’s headset feels great, is comfortable and even stylish.

Weight

 

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Next we are going to talk about the weight. Google has stressed how comfortable the device is and it has pointed out that with its 220g the Daydream View is “30% lighter than similar devices”.

One such similar device for sure is the Gear VR which weighs in at 312g and indeed is nearly a third heavier than the Daydream View. A big difference that you can definitely feel when wearing the devices for a longer period of time.

Winner: Daydream View. The device is 30% lighter than the Gear VR which definitely makes it more comfortable to wear.

Wireless

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As opposed to the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Playstation VR, both headsets are wireless and don’t need to be connected to any outside device like a pc or a videogame console. Simply insert the compatible phones into the headsets and you are good to go with no wires dangling from your heads.

Winner: It’s a draw.

Portable

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Of course closely connected to the previous comparison category, both devices are fully portable and can be brought everywhere. There is no external device that you have to bring with you and you are not tethered to a certain location to use your VR headset.

Winner: It’s a draw.

Automatic Connection

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The Daydream View is designed to make the VR experience as simple as possible for the user. To set it up, the compatible phone only has to be placed into the device, without having to plug in any plugs. Phone and headset pair themselves via NFC, it simply works.

The Gear VR does not have such a luxury. Users have to plug in a USB connector from the Gear VR to the mobile phone, only then will the devices pair and the user can delve into VR. This sometimes proves to be tricky and is definitely not as comfortable as what the Daydream View has to offer.

Winner: Daydream View

Positional Tracking

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The biggest drawback of mobile VR devices like the Gear VR or the Daydream view compared to stationary VR systems is their lack of positional tracking. The user can look around but what the systems so far are not able to track are their positions in space, as in when they move forward or lean for example. Both the Gear VR and the Daydream View are not capable of positional tracking.

Winner: It’s a draw.

Motion-Controller

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Daydream VR supports a motion controller that includes a touchpad and that incorporates several gyros to track its movement in space. Think about holding a magic wand or a gun, having all your movements represented within the VR world. The Daydream View comes with such a controller out of the box while Gear VR does not support a motion controller at all.

Winner: Daydream View. 

Touchpad

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Both devices feature touchpads. The Daydream View sports its touchpad directly on the motion controller while the Gear VR’s touchpad is located directly on the right side of the device.

Winner: Daydream View. While both devices have a touchpad, we do not like the location of the touchpad on the Gear VR. Having to touch your headset while you are wearing it feels odd and makes you very much aware that there is a big thing with a touchpad sitting on your face. 

Display Resolution

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The display resolution per eye determines how grainy the VR world looks like. Unfortunately we are still quite far away from the point when you cannot see individual pixels in VR anymore since the lenses magnify the screens quite a bit.

What surprised us is that the smaller version of Google’s Pixel phone only features a 1080p display as compared to the Pixel XL which has a 1440p display built in and therefore matches the resolution of the Galaxy devices that are compatible with the latest Gear VR.

What that means is that only if you go for the Pixel XL will you have a per eye resolution of 1440 x 1280 pixels that matches that of Gear VR. If you go for the smaller Pixel phone, you will only have a per eye resolution of 1080 x 960 pixels. We will of course review both devices to see what difference that means in actual use. Until that point in time we would recommend everybody to go for the Pixel XL.

Winner: Gear VR because it is 1440 x 1280 no matter which compatible device you use. 

Field of view

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The Field of View (FOV) determines how broad we can see in VR. The higher the value the more immersive the experience. Our eyes have a FOV of 180°, a value that VR needs to achieve if immersion should be 100% instead of having us feel like we are peeking into the virtual world through big goggles.

The Daydream View only has a 90° FOV which is much less than the Gear VR’s 101° FOV, which in its latest 2016 iteration had increased this value from 96°.

Winner: Gear VR.

 

 

Price Headset

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The Daydream View will retail for $79 and include the motion controller. The Gear VR costs $99 and does not come with a bundled controller.

Winner: Daydream View.

Price Host Device

 

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Next to the headsets users also need to buy a compatible phone to enjoy mobile VR. For the Daydream View the cheapest phone to be Daydream-ready at this moment in time is ZTE’s Axon 7 which retails at $399.

To enjoy the Gear VR the cheapest option would be last years Galaxy S6 which users also can get for $399 already.

Winner: It’s a draw.

App Store Size

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Even though the Daydream VR app store has not launched yet, at today’s event we could get an idea how many VR experiences would be available once it launches in November. Google has announced it is working together with 50 companies that have built apps for the launch.

The Oculus Gear VR store has an edge here with already over 200 apps and growing on a day by day basis.

Winner: Gear VR. However, on the long run we believe that the Daydream store will catch up and eventually surpass the Oculus store. We will continually update this comparison.

Overall Winner: Daydream View

With seven wins for the Daydream View as compared to three for the Gear VR, the Google Daydream View is the clear winner of this comparison and we are sure Google has built a winning formula that will open up VR to the masses.

However, the Gear VR has won in such important categories as Field of View and app store size, offering a great and high quality mobile VR experience that has already garnered a strong following. The mobile VR race is just about to start and it’s going to be an exciting one!

 

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