Samsung has set April 21 as the ship date for a new Oculus-based Gear VR mobile headset with a bundled controller for $129.99.
Samsung will also sell the new controller separately for $39.99.
According to The Verge, the big change is the addition of the controller and a new color (“orchid grey”). “Otherwise, it’s the same exact headset as the one that was released last year, with the same specs, same field of view and same level of immersion.”
Still, the new controller-capable mobile VR platform from Samsung is debuting amid more competition in that part of the market, which includes Google’s Daydream View, which went on sale last November for $79.
Oculus, the Facebook-owned VR company, also announced that it rebuilt Oculus Home, a faster version of its mobile VR platform that, it says, reduces load times by up to 3x while also supporting twice the pixel resolution. “[T]hink of it like upgrading from Standard Definition to High Definition,” Oculus noted in a blog post.
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Oculus also said Gear VR users will have access to nearly 20 titles I April that work with the new controller, with 50 more to follow over the “next few months.” Matching a social capability offered on the high-end Oculus Rift, Oculus has also extended its avatars system to Gear VR.
In January, Samsung said it had shipped more than 5 million Gear VR headsets.
Samsung also announced it will offer the Gear VR headset/controller bundle for free to consumers who pre-order the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones.
Those smartphone models, announced today, will also go on sale in the U.S. on April 21, with preorders slated to start March 30.
The 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ models include a 8MP F1.7 Smart autofocus front camera and 12MP F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera, along with Bixby, an AI platform that will compete for share with similar systems from Apple and Google.
Those phones will also connect to the new Gear 360, a camera that can capture 360-degree video in 4K, or snap 15MP photos or deliver 2K live streaming.