What Phones are Compatible with VR – Great Picks, Tips, FAQs & More

Sometimes, it can be a great idea to buy a cheap phone exclusively to experience VR content with. 

The particular smartphone you already have might be great for your everyday needs but might not be great for virtual reality. 

This post hopes to provide you with some cheap and effective options to experience virtual reality with a smartphone. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will discuss: 

  • How you can tell if a smartphone is VR-compatible?
  • Great smartphone options for virtual reality 
  • Great mobile-based VR headset options 
  • Some frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

So without further ado, let’s get started.

How to Tell if a Smartphone is VR-Compatible?

The reason why smartphones are so popular as VR options are that they come with a variety of sensors that help them create the illusion of virtual reality. 

These sensors are what are used by the smartphone to translate your movements into real-time in-game movements within the virtual space. 

Thus, if your phone does not have those particular sensors, you won’t be able to experience VR. 

The smartphone sensors that you need for VR include: 

  • Gyroscopic sensors 
  • Magnetic field sensors
  • NFC (Not always needed but it’s preferable to have it) 
  • Internal compass 

If your smartphone lacks gyroscopic sensors, for example, then it won’t be able to assess its orientation and any changes that occur to it. Thus, your phone will be unable to detect any movements that you make in VR. 

Thus, to ensure that your smartphone will work with a VR headset, you must ensure that it has the sensors listed above. 

Use Youtube VR to Check the Compatibility

Almost every smartphone comes with Youtube pre-installed within it. If your particular smartphone does not have it, you can easily get it from the Play Store or App Store. 

Follow these steps to check VR compatibility with the Youtube app: 

Step 1: Run Youtube and load up any 360-degree video within it. 

Step 2: Once you do, you’ll see a small cardboard icon at the bottom-right of the video playback options. 

Step 3: Click on it to run the 360-degree video in VR mode. 

Step 4: Once the video is running in VR mode, move your smartphone around to check if the video moves around with it. 

If the orientation of the video gets changed according to the way you move your phone, that means your phone supports VR. 

If the video does not move, then that means your phone does not have a gyroscope sensor. 

Great Smartphones for Virtual Reality 

Before we start, it’s important to note that most, if not all, the latest smartphones that are released all support VR. 

Thus, if you’ve bought a smartphone in the last year, it’s most likely that it’ll be able to work with a VR headset with little to no issues at all. 

However, if you intend to buy a separate smartphone simply to run VR, then it can be a good idea to buy a relatively older phone. This is because they’ll be much more affordable and they’ll still be able to run VR apps with ease. 

Some great options for such smartphones are: 

Google Pixel 2 

The Google Pixel 2 comes with a very cheap price tag but when you look at its specifications, it doesn’t seem like a cheap phone at all. 

First off, you get a full 1080p resolution which is great for VR since you’ll be able to enjoy crisp details in whatever virtual space you’re in. 

Furthermore, the phone comes with a powerful processor and a hefty amount of RAM to ensure you’ll be able to run whatever VR app or game you want on it. 

Samsung Galaxy S8 

One pet peeve that we and many other VR enthusiasts have with smartphones is their bezels. Bezels are especially annoying when it comes to VR since they effectively make the screen size smaller and less detailed. 

This is where the Samsung Galaxy S8 shines since it comes with a bezel-less design that allows you to fully enjoy detailed visuals in virtual reality. 

The phone has a large screen that’s just large enough to fit most mobile-based VR headsets with ease. Furthermore, the processor is powerful enough to ensure you’ll have no trouble running the latest VR apps and games. 

Great Mobile-Based VR Headsets 

Now that you have a smartphone that can run VR, the next thing you need to get is a VR headset. 

Naturally, you want a mobile-based VR headset that uses your smartphone as its screen to project VR images through it. 

The great thing about such VR headsets is that they’re the cheapest option when it comes to VR. 

Some great options include: 

BNEXT VR Headset 

The BNEXT VR Headset comes with incredibly high-quality lenses that provide crisp visuals, especially if you have a smartphone with a high resolution. 

It’s very easily adjustable, too, which ensures that no matter what your head size is, you’ll be able to comfortably wear it with no issues. 

The headset is also not too expensive and is a great option if you want to check out VR without spending too much money.

Pansonite VR Headset

The Pansonite VR Headset is incredibly affordable and provides great value since it comes with a remote controller as well. 

The remote controller pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth and thus, allows you to control VR apps and games with ease. 

The headset is super adjustable as well and ensures that users of all sizes will be able to utilize it with complete control. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can VR Be Used with a Smartphone? 

Yes. You can experience VR with a smartphone. 

All you need is a VR-compatible smartphone and a mobile-based VR headset. 

How Do Mobile VR Headsets Work? 

They have lenses that utilize the images provided by your smartphone to create the illusion of virtual reality. 

The movements you make while wearing the headset are detected by your smartphone’s sensors to translate movement in-game. 

Can I Make a Non-VR Phone VR-Compatible? 

No. A smartphone that is not VR-compatible lacks the appropriate sensors to sense movement within VR. 

Thus, you can’t turn it into a VR-compatible phone. Your best bet is to buy another smartphone that has the appropriate sensors and is, thus, VR-compatible.

Can I Use a VR Headset with Glasses? 

It may be slightly difficult but you can definitely use a VR headset with glasses. 

Just make sure you get one that comes with extensive adjustability options and a fair amount of headspace inside its compartment. 

How Much Do Mobile-Based VR Headsets Cost? 

Mobile-based VR headsets are the cheapest types of headsets when it comes to virtual reality. 

You can get a mobile-based VR headset anywhere between $10 to $100, which is much cheaper than other types of VR headsets available in the market. 

Conclusion 

So, that’s how you can tell if you have a smartphone that’s VR-compatible or not. 

All the latest phones that come out now are all VR-compatible so you don’t really have to worry if you buy a new one. If you have an older one, it’s very easy to check VR compatibility before you go out to buy a VR headset for it. 

What VR headset and smartphone combination do you use to play VR? Tell us in the comments below. 

Author

  • Victor Marquez

    Victor is the Editor in Chief at Techtyche. He tests the performance and quality of new VR boxes, headsets, pedals, etc. He got promoted to the Senior Game Tester position in 2021. His past experience makes him very qualified to review gadgets, speakers, VR, games, Xbox, laptops, and more. Feel free to check out his posts.

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