By now you’re probably familiar with Samsung’s Gear VR headsets; virtual reality headset hardware designed to accomodate Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones to deliver a VR exprience directly to your eyeballs.
However, according to a report from PC World, Samsung was demoing stand-alone VR headsets at MWC 2017 – behind closed doors, of course, the public and press didn’t get a look in. Like the Galaxy S8, which was also allegedly in attendance, the devices seem to have been showcased to select Samsung partners. The headsets are reportedly powered by Samsung’s newly announced Exynos 8895 processor, this is the 10nm FinFET chip which is similar in many ways to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 (also manufactured by Samsung).
VR is still a developing device category, but as it stands there are essentially two types of VR headset (not counting Augmented Reality, or AR). The one type includes the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and a forthcoming device from LG and Valve teaming up; these devices are powered by full-blown gaming PCs worth thousands of pounds.
The other type of device is like the existing Samsung Gear VR, Google’s Daydream View, and an in-development device from HTC, all of which use phone’s slotted in front of the eyes so that the handset display is used for the VR, while the phone processor does the lifting work of running apps and games.
While the latter is certainly more accessible to a broader pool of consumers than the former, which is largely a niche market for hardcore techies and gamers, both are considerably less accessible than just straight-up buying a device that runs right out the box on its own. The Exynos 8895 is also packing a dedicated visual processing unit which is tweaked specifically for VR applications.
It’s plausible that Samsung’s standalone headsets were intended more to showcase the Exynos chip than necessarily confirming they will be prepped for market, however, it’s a tantalising possibility nonetheless.