Smartphone VR Guide

  • Overview
  • Smartphone VR Advantages
  • Smartphone VR Disadvantages
  • Popular Smartphone Virtual Reality Headsets
    • General Use
    • Samsung Gear VR
    • Google Daydream
  • What Else You Will Need
  • Accessories
  • Finally


  • Typical Pricing: $0.00-$100.00 with decent ones priced in-between.
  • Prerequisites: Ownership of relatively new smartphone ($99-$699)
  • Experience: Lowest to Mid-low range

Smartphone VR Advantages

Assuming you already have a newer smartphone this is the cheapest and easiest option to get started into VR. Smartphone VR uses your smartphone as the display and a smartphone-holding VR headset needs to be purchased and that is it. There are Bluetooth controllers available to guide you around in VR or have a virtual mouse but otherwise there is generally a “tap the screen” button on the side of the headset to interact. A newer smartphone will have a sharper display with more pixels and a faster processor to give you a better experience.

Smartphone VR Disadvantages

Overall the experiences are fairly limited as interacting is mostly just being able to look around or use a minimal controller to interact within the environment. To fully experience Virtual Reality you will eventually want to get something more advanced.

Popular Smartphone Virtual Reality Headsets

There are plenty of VR headset options that are compatible with all smartphones. These headsets range from free versions that are literally a piece of cardboard you physically hold up to your face while the better ones have straps, buttons, controllers, and vision modification options.

  • General Use

The two things any decent VR headset will allow you to change are the inter-pupiliary distance and eye to screen distance. Being able to modify the inter-pupilary distance helps make the picture clearer because people have different distances between their pupils. This feature slides the lenses in the headset closer or further apart to help get the sharpest spot of the lenses centered.

Changing the eye to screen distance moves the lenses closer to or further away from your eyes. Being able to do this helps people who are slightly near-sighted or slightly far-sighted sharpen the image, sometimes to the point of not needing to wear glasses at all when wearing the headset. These two options make all the difference between a blurry, nauseating experience and an fun experience because everyone has different eyes.

Spending $25.00 will get you a considerably better virtual reality experience than a $5.00 (or free cardboard) setup.

Merge VR (~$59 – Check Amazon Prices)
Virtoba X5 (~$29 – Check Amazon Prices)
  • Samsung Gear VR

Samsung has a VR headset designed specifically for a limited set of their smartphones which offer much better tracking capabilities and more options than the standard headset designed for any type of smartphone. Newer versions come with a tracked controller as well. More advanced but also more expensive. Make sure to check that your phone is compatible with this headset by checking the phone manufactures website.

Samsung Gear VR (~$99 – Check Amazon Prices)
  • Google Daydream

Like the Gear VR, a slightly more advanced smartphone based VR experience designed for specific newer Google phones. It also comes with a controller specifically made for the headset. Make sure to check that your phone is compatible with this headset by checking the phone manufactures website.

Google Daydream (~$79 – Check Amazon Prices)

What Else You Will Need

Just your smartphone, the newer the better.


If you get a general use smartphone headset the experience will be enhanced by having a handheld method to click around or the ability to use a thumbpad for control.

VR Bluetooth Controller (~$8 – Check Amazon Prices)


Be sure to check out the PC VR Guide and the Console VR Guide to learn more about VR.