Two years ago, Samsung’s virtual reality ambitions were big enough to produce a bizarre, award-winning commercial featuring an ostrich who learns to fly, thanks to a Gear VR headset and the music of Elton John. But 2017 was also the last year that Samsung produced a new Gear VR device, much less a TV spot. Just like in 2018, today’s Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event featured a whole bunch of new phones — but not a single mention of VR.
But Samsung hasn’t stopped supporting the tech quite yet. The new lineup of Galaxy S10 phones is still compatible with an existing Gear VR headset, a Samsung spokesperson tells me. “Yes, the latest model Gear VR will work. Gear VR comes with an adapter that will work with S10,” he wrote. Road to VR reports that all four Galaxy S10 variants will be compatible.
Since Samsung says the adapter you need comes with the Gear VR, that suggests it’ll be even easier to seat a Galaxy S10 than last year’s Note 9. Samsung remarkably did provide an adapter for the Note 9 as well, but it didn’t come in the box; you had to contact Samsung to get it mailed.
While the Gear VR can accept several different phone sizes thanks to its spring-loaded catches, it still requires some conscious design effort by Samsung to limit the size and shapes of its phones to fit, and preload a certain amount of software so a Galaxy phone detects that it’s been plugged in.
So it’s a pretty decent sign that even if virtual reality is still in limbo right now, Samsung hasn’t given up on it quite yet. Which, to be fair, is also what its partner Oculus told us last September, pointing out that $199 Oculus Go doesn’t totally compete with the Gear VR, since apps that developers make for either one are 100-percent compatible with the other.
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