Everyone has at least heard about VR and most of us have already given it a try. This is one of the major innovations that have been introduced. Many of the big industries accept VR technology well. This includes gaming, real estate, and other industries.
Virtual Reality, or VR, is an artificial environment created using computer software. Using the two senses of sound and sight, it gives you an immersive experience which tricks your brain into a feeling of a real environment.
Most phones today are Virtual Reality compatible, but there are a few important things to consider to get the ultimate immersive experience. Let’s check out what these are and then the best phone for VR based on these criteria.
*Our list is prioritized according to the PPI
Resolution and PPI
2160 x 3840
3840 x 2160
1400 x 3200
1400 x 3200
1440 x 3120
1644 x 3840
1440 x 3040
1440 x 3120
Wonder what a phone from 2015 is doing on this list? Read on to find out why we’ve included the Sony Xperia Z5 on our list.
Labeled the world's first commercial 4K smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z5 has a whopping 806 pixel per inch. It takes a quick study of the television market to understand the masterpiece. Full HD TVs have 2.07 million pixels with displays as wide as 55-inch. The Sony Xperia Z5 has four times as many with its 5.5-inch screen.
Screens need most of the battery from a smartphone, and that resolution makes them more energy-intensive. Sony's solution to this dilemma includes increasing the power of the battery and optimizing the economy of the smartphone. A large 3430 milliamp-hour battery is built into the Z5 Premium.
The Z5 Premium proudly displays a brand new 23-megapixel camera that proficiently records 4 K video. Autofocusing happens within 0.03 seconds, and although digital image stabilization is used while capturing videos, the ability to iron out bumps is incredibly effective.
The Smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 810 chipset with two quad-core CPUs, one running at 2.0GHz and the other running at 1.5GHz. Shared between it and an Adreno 430 GPU is 3 GB of RAM, while the 32 GB of internal storage on the smartphone can be expanded with up to 2 TB.
- Excellent PPI
- Excellent camera
- The glass back damaged easily
- Sluggish Sony UI
Released 2 years after the Xperia Z5 premium with 807 PPI but with a smaller screen size.
The Xperia XZ Premium looks like no other smartphone you'll find. Although it does have glass on both sides like so many other smartphones today, the mirror-finish is distinct. The Xperia XZ Premium, true to its name, practically looks like it's wrapped in a mirror.
For the most part, the 5.5-inch display is rendered in 1080p. Only when you deliver 4 K and HDR videos do the display kick in a higher gear.
A higher resolution on a 5.5-inch screen is of no significance. While the display is noticeably sharper, to ascertain this, you will have to take a close look. When using VR, the screen will be magnified and this feature will be highlighted.
The Xperia XZ Premium is the first commercial phone which runs Qualcomm’s 835 processor. This processor uses 8 semi-custom Kyro cores and is clocked at 245GHz. It also supports a downlink speed of up to 1Gbps.
Designed on the 10 nm manufacturing process, it also makes it power-efficient. The 835 chipset is a substantial upgrade from the Snapdragon 820.
- Looks sleek
- Amazing display
- Fast processing
- Battery life isn’t great
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus doesn’t score well in the design department. The phone looks solid but is plain and boring.
Other than feeling superior for using one of the best phones out there right now, you can’t show off in terms of style. The black and grey models won’t turn any heads, however, the cloud blue is an interesting choice.
The S20 Plus has a quad sensor camera on the back inside the bump, consisting of a wide-angle 12-megapixel f/1.8 lens, a 64-megapixel f/2.0 telephoto sensor, and another ultra-wide 12-megapixel f/2.2 sensor.
The same camera can also be found on the regular Galaxy S20 along with the time of flight sensor. This camera enables you to take zoom shots of up to 30x, take 8K videos with 24 FPS, HDR10+, and slow-motion video.
The 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with a screen resolution of 3200 x 1440 pixels with a 120Hz rate and HDR10 + support. With brilliant colors and dynamic range, it's unquestionably beautiful, particularly when viewing HDR content.
When browsing for longer periods, the 120Hz refresh rate means smoother scrolling, less flickering, and less eye strain, and it is extremely successful.
The Snapdragon 865 delivers about 20 percent better performance on CPU and GPU than the 855 of last year. You're not likely to feel that. Instead, the latest chipset allows for distinct new capabilities, such as a 120Hz screen, 8 K video recording, multi-frame camera night mode, and 5G.
- Excellent camera
- Slim and lightweight
- 120Hz Refresh Rate
- No headphone jack
- Boring design
The only difference between the Galaxy S20 and S20 plus is the size difference. The plus version is just half an inch larger on the diagonal, but still makes a big difference when you hold the phone. In terms of functionality, both phones are quite identical.
Both phones come with the latest Dynamic AMOLED display from Samsung. This display has a resolution of 3200x1400 and a 120Hz refresh rate.
However, the PPI on the S20 is higher than it is on the plus version due to the difference is screen size. The S20 sports 563 PPI vs the 523 pixel per inch on the bigger Plus edition. This makes the text sharper on the S20.
Both phones sport ‘pretty’ similar cameras and result in identical photos. The camera on the Galaxy S20 Ultra is however more advanced and beats both the S20 and S20 Plus.
I emphasized the word pretty because the plus version sports time of flight sensor in its arsenal, that is missing in the S20. This sensor is used to calculate the distance to objects surround you. This is mostly used when taking bokeh portraits.
Whether you're picking up a Galaxy S20 or an S20 Plus, Qualcomm 's flagship processor is built-in: the Snapdragon 865, along with 12 GB of RAM.
- Sharp screen
- Great camera quality
- Blunt design
- The fingerprint scanner is poor
The OnePlus 7 T Pro is a mid-cycle improvement to the premium offering the company offers. Therefore, big enhancements are limited. Coming on the heels of one of the best phones around, that's not a bad spot to be in. However, if you need pace, the OnePlus 7 T Pro uses the SnapDragon 855 + to improve its processing capabilities.
The display is fantastic on the OnePlus 7 T Pro. The 7 T Pro display packs Quad HD+ resolution and a refresh rate of 90Hz.
It's a shame that few apps take advantage of the 90Hz screen, but the high refresh rate has a profound effect on fluidity perception. When quickly scrolling through the app, there is no stutter, and the icons remain perfectly crisp.
OnePlus takes its motto of Never Settle to heart. OnePlus has followed its ideology of delivering top-level performance from the start. Take the best available components, pair them with a fast and fluid layer of software, and squeeze out the limit. OnePlus hardware is among the fastest available.
The OnePlus 7T Pro upgrades the processor to Snapdragon 855 Plus.
The upgrade to the spec is not exactly significant. On standard Snapdragon 855, the primary Kryo 485 cores are clocked at 2.8GHz vs 2.96Hz on the 855 plus.
Qualcomm claims to be upgrading to GPU output by 15 percent but the lack of extreme, polygon-pushing content means that these improvements may go unused. Essentially, you are establishing your hardware for the future.
- Dazzling design
- Oxygen OS is top-notch
- Camera is sub-par
- No IP rating
- No headphone jack
Sony finally found the formula for designing an excellent phone after years of punching beneath its weight. Too bad it is so costly.
Sony has a record for using the same design for its flagship devices. The Xperia 1 II doesn’t look that different from previous flagship versions but it has a premium feel that allows it to compete with famous brands such as Samsung and Apple.
This is device is very specific, and most users will complain that the device is hard to use with one-hand for everyday tasks like sending messages or social media browsing. That's because of the display which has a 21:9 ratio. This makes the device taller compared to other flagships. If you’re a fan of small phones, this is not for you.
Sony is the only manufacturer to date that provides a 4 K resolution on a smartphone. That's probably because many manufacturers presume that QHD is a high enough resolution, but it's an outstanding feature for those who want to see content in the highest quality possible.
The 4 K resolution permits 1644 x 3840 pixels, which is equivalent to a hefty 643 pixels per inch. We found the colors looked natural, and the maximum luminosity seems to be higher than on previous Sony phones, which further enhances the viewing experience.
Sony wants the Xperia 1 II to be the best mobile camera on the market, and if you're likely to invest time fiddling with the settings in the pro mode of the camera app, you'll be rewarded with some superb images.
The Sony Xperia 1 II is driven by the top-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 chipset we saw powering many of the top-end mobile devices in 2020 such as the galaxy s20.
- Superb display
- Headphone jack
- Strong battery
- Slippery design
- Relatively expensive
The Pixel 4 XL places more emphasis on the appearance of the display than its predecessor the Pixel 3 XL. The 3XL doesn’t look as good as the 4XL due to a terrible notch.
This time around, there’s a big knob closer to the front camera and a sleek rounded edge at the end, which isn't modern but tolerable. It's simple to forget once you get used to it.
The resolution of 3,040 x 1,440 is sharp with brilliantly deep blacks, however, compared to Samsung devices the colors aren’t that saturated. The screen doesn’t feel too big either even though it is 6.3-inches.
The spotlight feature of the screen is the refresh rate of 90Hz, as we saw on the OnePlus 7 T, and it is awesome.
Google has shown us that it only requires one camera to produce outstanding images, building on its computational photography expertise, while other brands continue to add 2 or 3 cameras for flexibility.
This is starting to shift, as the 12.2MP lens of the Pixel 4 with an f/1.7 aperture now has a companion in the form of a 16MP telephoto lens which has the ability to optical zoom x2.
Google still shows us that sticking to low megapixel cameras is okay as long as they do the job and you don’t need a high number of megapixels like most android phones today.
The Pixel 4 XL is powered by the most common processer used by many Android phones, The Snapdragon 855 and is backed by a 6GB RAM.
It’s successor the Snapdragon 865 was unveiled in December by Qualcomm and is featured in flagship phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, the Oneplus 8 and some Chinese phones as well.
- Good camera
- Face unlock is swift
- Quick updates
- Battery life isn’t fantastic
The problem with LG phones is how high their prices are given their subpar features.
The structure of the LG G8 ThinQ is a bit generic. It's not terrible, but nothing fancy happens here. The side panels are slim, but as you'll see on some newer phones, there's no hole-punch camera — just a notch.
The G8 ThinQ has a 6.1-inch Gorilla Glass 5 protected OLED screen with a clear Quad HD+ resolution of 3120 x 1440. No complaints here. The display is quite sharp and brightens up just fine in direct sunlight. The display which supports HDR10 makes colors look rich, and deep blacks.
The G8 ThinQ has a strange feature which is its headliner – Hand ID and Air Motion. The 8MP front lens dubbed the Z camera facilities this feature. Just like the S20 plus, this camera sports a time-in-flight sensor that measures how long light takes to bounce off a subject and return.
The G8 ThinQ features the Qualcomm smartphone mobile processor — the Snapdragon 855.This same processor is found in phones likes the Google Pixel 4XL mentioned above and the Galaxy S10. There's a decent 6 GB of RAM that's possibly more than you require, and 128 GB of storage awaits. There's also room for a MicroSD card in case you want to expand the internal storage.
- Good display
- Unique rear camera design
- Subpar battery life
- Lots of bloatware
Features to consider when purchasing a VR mobile phone
VR Headset Compatibility
If you'd like to enjoy a virtual world then special devices are needed. We've got head-mounted devices right now which are often called VR headsets.
You can leap into a virtual world with the help of these headsets where almost everything feels real, but nothing is. Many companies manufacture VR headsets which can be used with smartphones for consumers. Samsung's VR headphones, for example, are compatible with Samsung smartphones.
Let’s take a quick look at a few common VR headset in the market today:
- SAMSUNG GEAR VR: Currently in its 3rd edition, the Gear VR is a virtual reality headset made by Samsung that requires a phone to work-and importantly, a Samsung phone.
Since the Gear VR is locked onto Samsung devices, the option of compatible handsets is relatively restricted – this is no issue for the Google Daydream View VR headset, which runs on any smartphone that conforms to the minimum requirement.
Much like Google Daydream, the newest iteration of the headset comes with a remote and is equally well-built and comfortable.
- GOOGLE DAYDREAM VIEW: Daydream is Google's software platform for mobile virtual reality. Wear a supported headset with a supported phone, and you'll be placed in a forest with apps and media content hovering screen.
Daydream View is the headset for the Daydream VR app created by Google. It comes with a controller but the actual headset itself doesn't have much tech going on with it.
- GOOGLE CARDBOARD: In essence, a Google Cardboard is a cheap headset. This product is not the most comfortable or immersive, but it is a fantastic value that offers a decent introduction to VR at a fraction of the other models' price.
The Cardboard is a good option for those on the smallest budgets, or who want to try out VR without a massive investment.
All of this makes Google Cardboard relatively inexpensive and available, but the devices itself are nowhere near the quality of the above, and many of the applications and experiences are not as high quality either.
- OCULUS: A pioneer in the VR realm. Oculus offers two options, namely the OCULUS GO and OCULUS QUEST. Both of which are excellent high-end devices.
Size of the Screen
You need a smartphone with a screen size varying from 4 to 6 inches. Some headsets may fit into a seven-inch device.
It is important to consider the screen size so that you can easily fit your phone on the headset of the VR. That's going to help you get a better experience.
A bigger screen will give you a better experience.
Resolution and ‘PPI’
Even the screen resolution is a big factor to consider. This is the number of points on the screen from which the image is displayed. The higher the resolution, the clearer it becomes.
Remember the catch I was talking about?
Enter PPI (pixel per inch) or pixel density. There needs to be a perfectly balanced combination of many factors to produce an unforgettable mobile VR experience — where it tricks the mind of the user to think they are somewhere else even if they’re just in their apartment.
Some of these aspects are pixel fill density, resolution, framerate, and screen refresh rate. Smartphones nowadays are simply not powerful enough to deliver powerful VR experiences. They lack quality in terms of resolution, refresh rates and many more.
A challenge faced by most VR providers is to solve the SDE (Screen Door Effect), where the user can see the pixel-separating fine lines. SDE happens because the pixels on the screen are magnified by the VR Headset giving you a wider field of view.
A great initial solution to solve SDE is the addition of more pixels. VR-enabled flagship devices nowadays max out at 500 -600 PPI
Packing a higher number of PPI can assist in solving the immersion-breaking effect and can result in a higher quality image. This is an important solution because the VR app usually split the pixels in half for each eye.
The magnetic sensor isn't that important but having it is still helpful. The main aim of this function is to determine the magnetic field variability, strength, and presence.
The sensor 's primary application in phones is related to protective covers. When the cover is opened the sensor responds to the absence of a magnet and activates the screen. But when it’s closed, as the magnetic field changes, the screen will become blocked. In other words, it will help monitor whether or not the headset cover is closed and, thus, trigger the device accordingly.
In reality, the accelerometer has a variety of different functions, but it’s mainly used to let the phone know which side it is facing. For example, the accelerometer will allow your phone to choose whether it should be in portrait or landscape mode depending on how it is held.
A G-sensor or accelerometer aims to measure the acceleration and helps in controlling your movements.
This is particularly important when it comes to gaming in VR.
The accelerometer in a sense works horizontally and vertically.
In three-dimensional space, a gyroscope is used to determine your phone's orientation. The gyro's readings are only used when tilting the phone to the side and when the phone is moving in any direction.
Therefore, your smartphone needs a gyroscope. In the virtual world, it will help you turn your head around. Without this feature, many VR-apps and games can run. The only problem is that you're not going to be able to look around. That ruins all of your experience with VR.
Most relatively new processors can handle VR. Most videos and games can be run by a Snapdragon 650 although SD 820 or higher is a better choice.
Why aren’t any Apple devices listed above?
Virtual reality is an entirely immersive experience in which people can walk around, or at least navigate. You are capable of looking at objects from all sides, even from above if you choose to fly while wearing a VR headset.
On the iPhone, VR technology is just a semi-immersive 360-degree experience, fairly passive. While some games offer limited interactivity, the iPhone VR is flat. A viewer can look around but can't interact by looking at a spot long enough beyond navigating from one place to another.
Furthermore, the PPI on apple devices is not too great. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S8 features a Super AMOLED 5.8-inch, 2.960 x 1.440, 570ppi screen. If you have a new iPhone 11, you get a 6.1 Liquid Retina HD display with a 326ppi resolution of 828 x 1792 pixels.
This is quite disappointing given that the iPhone 4 was the first device to include a gyroscope. However, Apple is expanding its efforts in terms of AR instead of VR.
How do I check if my phone supports VR?
So perhaps the first thing you need to confirm is whether you have sensors on your smartphone. The best way to do this is to download an app from the store. These apps will read the phone sensor output and check what's and what's not present.
If your phone has all the sensors and preferably a screen with PPI higher than 500, all you need is a VR headset.
The main thing is to pay close attention to the PPI of the phone. The higher the Pixel per inch, the more immersive your experience will be.