Google Cardboard vs Samsung Gear VR

Google's DIY virtual reality headset is certainly intriguing and innovative, but how does it compare with a dedicated and manufactured headset like Samsung's Gear VR?
Google Cardboard vs Samsung Gear VR

When Google released its DIY virtual reality headset, Cardboard, we started excitedly expecting great things. The Mountain View company is known for its innovation, but could a cardboard box with a couple of lenses really compete with the likes of Samsung’s brand new Gear VR?

Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VREnlarge Enlarge

There are two big things to consider – the hassle of self-assembly and extreme value for money. Although the Samsung Gear VR leaps ahead for being ready to wear straight out of the box, it does cost a fair bit more. But what are you getting for your hard-earned cash?

Samsung’s remarkably lightweight headset has focus controls, a volume rocker and even a touch sensitive track pad mounted on the right hand side. That gives you total control over what you’re seeing, without having to take the phone out to switch apps. It also fits comfortably thanks to adjustable Velcro straps.

Another big question mark over virtual reality headsets is lag – does the app move slower than you move you head? We can happily report that both the Gear VR and Cardboard have no perceptible lag when browsing virtual worlds. That makes it very addictive – especially for the big gamers and movie lovers out there.

Unfortunately there is one aspect that turns us off of the Gear VR. You can only use the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 with it. If only there was a wider choice of phones to use, it would be another big green tick in Samsung’s favour.


Once you get over the Ikea-esque, flat pack design, it quickly becomes clear that this is one of the finest low-budget creations Google has ever come up with. Of course you can’t refocus anything (because it’s made of cardboard, remember) and you’ll probably find that it offers a less immersive experience when compared to the Gear – but for the thrifty price of £15, can you really complain? We think not.

Another downside of Cardboard is its lack of hands free usability. Where the Gear VR has padded straps attached as standard, Cardboard has to be held to your face – with your own hands. Google is making you do all the legwork with this one.


You probably opened this article to find out what you should buy. Well, it’s important to know that Google Cardboard was really designed to give app developers an idea on how they can bring the virtual reality world to life. It’s very much a work in progress at the moment, but we are certainly expecting big things from Google in the not too distant future.

You can find out more about Samsung’s virtual reality headset over at our hands on review. And let us know which of these innovative bits of tech you most want in the comments below.

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