Smartphone VR Guide

  • Overview
  • Popular Smartphone Virtual Reality Headsets
    • General Use
    • Samsung Gear VR
    • Google Daydream
  • What Else You Will Need
  • Games and Software
  • 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

Assuming you already have a newer smartphone this is the cheapest and easiest option to get started into VR. Essentially you need something to hold your phone to your face and that is it. There are also Bluetooth controllers available to guide you around in VR or have a virtual mouse but otherwise there is often a “tap the screen” button on the side of the headset to interact. A newer smartphone will have a sharper display and a faster processor to give you a better looking and smoother experience. The experiences are somewhat limited in many instances because of the stationary tracking and minimal environmental interactivity capacity, with the Gear VR and Daydream being the higher end options.


Popular Smartphone Virtual Reality Headsets

There are plenty of VR headset options that are compatible with the majority of modern 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. Because everyone has different eyes these two options make all the difference between a blurry, nauseating experience and a fun one.

Spending $25.00 will get you a considerably better virtual reality experience than a $5.00 (or free cardboard) setup. I would also strongly recommend looking below in the Accessories area for information about VR Bluetooth controllers. Having a controller to help navigate within the headset makes it easier to use.

Merge VR (~$49 – Check Amazon) OR
Virtoba X5 (~$24 – Check Amazon)


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. The latest versions come with a tracked controller as well. It is definitely more advanced but also more expensive. Make sure to check that your phone is compatible with this headset by checking your phone manufactures website.

Samsung Gear VR (~$119 – Check Amazon)


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 your phone manufactures website.

Google Daydream (~$79 – Check Amazon)


What Else You Will Need

Just your smartphone, the newer and faster the better. If you are getting a smartphone, I’d recommend getting an unlocked one so you can choose from a variety of carrier re-sellers (which can cost considerably less per month) instead of being locked in to just one.


Games and Software

Just search for “Virtual Reality” or “VR” in the Apple App Store if you have an Apple device or in the Google Play Store if you have an Android.



If you get a general use smartphone headset the experience will be enhanced by having a wireless handheld method to click around and the ability to use a thumb-pad for control. There is a wide variety of options in both categories of single handed controllers and two-handed gaming controllers.

Bluetooth VR Controller (~$8 to ~ $39 – Check Amazon)


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