Samsung Gear VR is a mobile virtual reality headset developed by Samsung in conjunction with Oculus. It requires one of Samsung’s 2015/2016 flagship phones to operate. These phones are the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge.
The phone is inserted into the front of the Gear VR headset and becomes the display and processor. The headset itself contains the IMU which is used to track rotation. Gear VR does not yet have positional tracking. The device is powered by the battery in the phone though there is a micro USB port on the bottom so you can have your device plugged in while inside the headset. This will only charge the battery if the VR is not being used, but if it is, it will prevent the depletion of the battery.
The sensors inside the Gear VR unit are lower latency than those used in the phones themselves. This combined with a low persistence screen with sub 20ms motion to photon latency is what makes the Gear VR stand head and shoulders about cheaper mobile VR headsets such as Google’s Cardboard.
The consumer version of the Gear VR, or simply, Gear VR, is it’s third edition. While it is considered to be the first full consumer release, the two previous versions, the Innovator Edition (compatible only with the Note 4) and the S6 Innovator Edition (compatible with the Galaxy S6/Edge, pictured above) we publicly available in smaller releases.
When the phone is plugged into the Gear VR, Oculus Home is automatically launched and other processes are killed or pushed into the background. Oculus Home is where games are purchased for use on the Gear VR, as well as acting as a launcher for those games. Because Oculus Home launches automatically the Gear VR can only be used as a Cardboard viewer if the Gear VR process is stopped by another application such as Package Disabler Pro or Cardboard For Gear VR. Both are available on the play store for a fee.