Google’s Daydream VR platform is probably a little confusing to you right now, especially when it comes to which devices will support it. This is understandable, because Google still hasn’t published its hardware spec and the so the exact requirements for a phone to be considered ‘Daydream-ready’ are not yet clear. To confuse things even further, we also have the concept of ‘Daydream-compatible’ to deal with. So let’s take a look at the official Daydream VR ready phones and those likely to be compatible with the platform.

See also:

Does Daydream have what it takes to make VR mainstream?

May 21, 2016

What is Daydream-ready?

‘Daydream-ready’ is the term Google is giving to next-generation devices that will have the necessary low latency sensors, low persistence display and minimum CPU/GPU performance to satisfactorily deliver Daydream VR content. As Google VR head Clay Bavor said at I/O: “We want to hold a very high quality bar, and for that to happen all the components need to be just right.”

daydream vr mode 1-Google IO 2016

This is also why Bavor said that it is highly unlikely that any current smartphones (at the time in May) would get Daydream-ready branding. The reason is primarily down to two things: the lack of the necessary sensors and the absence of a low persistence display. But this refers to smartphones. There are also head-mounted displays (HMDs) to consider. Here’s what Google has said about Daydream VR HMDs:

Daydream-ready headsets are designed for the high-quality mobile VR experiences that Daydream enables. Unlike the Google Cardboard viewer, they are designed for extended use. Instead of a trigger button, users interact with VR applications using the Daydream controller.

So you can see there’s a split between the high-end Daydream VR experience and the more accessible Cardboard VR experience. Think of these experiences as two ends of the Google VR spectrum. They may be vastly different in feel and hardware but they are still part of the same axis. This is where Daydream compatibility comes in.

vr-daydream-proto

What is Daydream-compatible?

First, it must be noted that Daydream-compatibility is not something Google talks about. Naturally, Google’s focus is on the next-gen hardware that will fully deliver its vision for Daydream content.

But there is already a huge base of Android users already invested in VR, including over a million Gear VR users, so Google would be foolish to ignore them and focus only on future users. This is where the (as yet unconfirmed) theory of Daydream VR-compatible devices comes in.

Google would be foolish to ignore the existing base of Android users already invested in VR and focus only on future users.

While the Galaxy S7 probably doesn’t feature the sensors required to be considered Daydream-ready, it is feasible that, by meeting the vast majority of the other Daydream VR requirements, it could be considered Daydream-compatible. This would mean it’s not quite up to Google’s standards but is close enough, kind of like the “Works with Google Cardboard” branding we already see a lot of.

You might like: Best VR Headset for the iPhone

Daydream compatible devices would thus be capable of running Daydream VR content, but the SDK would either disable those features the hardware is incapable of delivering or “roll back” to Cardboard VR when necessary. This is the same basic premise that allows the Nexus 6P (which is officially not Daydream-ready) to be the reference device for Daydream VR development. It’s not Daydream-ready but it is Daydream-compatible.

Daydream_VR_Android_app_converted

Again, Daydream VR-compatible devices are purely speculative for now, but it would make a lot of sense for Google to allow Daydream content to run on less-than-Daydream-ready hardware. Partially to give the platform an instant user base without demanding users make a new device purchase running Android 7.0 Nougat.

But also because it would allow existing Android users and developers to get a feel for Daydream VR and hopefully convince them to purchase the necessary hardware for the full experience. If Google decides to add support for external sensors (which could appear as accessory mounts for existing phones), there might be even more Daydream VR-ready phones already around.

Google may also add support for external sensors to enable Daydream VR compatibility for almost-there devices.

Confirmed Daydream-ready phones

So far, only a few Daydream-ready phones have been announced but a few more recent devices will possibly be included to the list. But until the official hardware spec is published, we can’t say for sure. Here’s the confirmed list so far.

ZTE Axon 7

ZTE Axon 7 Final-14

The first official Daydream VR-ready phone to be announced was the ZTE Axon 7. Priced at just $399, the Axon 7 offers a pretty compelling package, especially when it includes support for Google’s VR platform. The ZTE Axon 7 specs also gave us our first hint at the minimum spec required for Daydream-readiness, including the Snapdragon 820, an AMOLED display and 4 GB of RAM.

Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe

Asus-Zenfone-3-Deluxe-Hands-On-AA-(10-of-11)

Even though the high-end version of the Zenfone 3 Deluxe (with 256 GB ROM and 6 GB of RAM) recently got a spec bump to the Snapdragon 821, both the Snapdragon 820-equipped models are also Daydream-certified. Considering all three of these phones have a Full HD Super AMOLED display, QHD is clearly no longer the benchmark resolution for Daydream VR phones.

See also:

Which phones come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor?

May 21, 2017

Daydream-ready specs

The following specs are absolutely not official, they are simply drawn from the list of already-announced Daydream-ready phones. First up, the Snapdragon 820 is the minimum chipset required for the CPU and GPU performance expected by Google and 4 GB of RAM looks to be the minimum memory requirement.

On the display front, at least a Full HD OLED display with low persistence is also necessary. Prior to the announcement of the three Zenfone 3 Deluxe models (which have Full HD resolution), it looked like QHD would be the minimum resolution required, but that now seems to have been relaxed.

As Qualcomm notes in its VR Software Development Kit notes for the Snapdragon 820, VR also requires “predictive head position processing” which the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP includes.

Of course, all devices will need to be running Android 7.0 Nougat to take advantage of its Sustained Performance Mode for VR too.

Android N logo 1

Possible Daydream-ready phones

Based on the specs mentioned above, there are a few existing devices that could theoretically be Daydream-ready. The Moto Z and Moto Z Force, Snapdragon versions of the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and S7 Active and the OnePlus 3 all have the Snapdragon 820, (at least) Full HD OLED displays and at least 4 GB of RAM.

The LG G5, HTC 10, Sony Xperia X Performance and LeEco Le Max Pro all have LCD displays and are thus unlikely to be Daydream certifiable. Of course, the Nexus 6P only has the Snapdragon 810, but it is clearly Daydream-compatible as Google made it the reference device for Daydream developers.

The other big requirement – and more than likely the reason none of the OLED phones listed above have come out as Daydream-ready – is that they either do not have the necessary low latency sensors or low persistence display demanded by Google.

Most current phones either do not have the necessary low latency sensors or low persistence display demanded by Google.

This is probably why Clay Bavor said it was unlikely any current phones would get retroactive Daydream-ready certification. But looking forward is a different story: it stands to reason the upcoming Galaxy Note 7 will be Daydream-ready and the same is likely also true for the Huawei Mate 9 and Mate S2 and LG V20. But until everything is made official we can’t say for sure.

Are you holding out for a Daydream VR ready phone? How big do you think Daydream VR will be?

Also read: Everything you need to know about Augmented Reality

Kris Carlon
Kris Carlon is a Senior Editor at Android Authority. He is a half-British Australian who lives in Berlin, travels a lot and is always connected to a laptop, phone, smartwatch or tablet (and occasionally a book).
  • Pootis Man

    That ZTE axon 7 looks like it’s running stock Android. Wasn’t that phone supposed have an option for switching to a pure version of Android if you wanted?

    • Da_James

      Aaaaand pure vs stock isn’t the same?

      • i think “stock” might mean nexus grade(bare bones) android and “pure” might mean moto style with some extras but still stock. these are just assumptions!!

        • Technobro

          Stock Android comes with everything the Nexus has to offer. Pure Android is the same aesthetics as stock Android, but is tweaked for better performance, reliability, user experience, extra features, etc…

          A good example of pure Android is oxygen os and Motorola’s skins. Stock Android is Android one, Nexus, play edition, and other barebones phones/tablets. Any rom can look somewhat pure with Google Now Launcher, nova launcher, action 3, etc.

  • thatguy

    Oneplus 3 does not have a QHD display

    • atul rajput

      Does that mean it can’t be daydream ready?

      • thatguy

        “Daydream ready” is just a certification given by Google. OP3 is daydream compatible according to this article which means you can try it with daydream VR but probably the experience won’t be the best. Again, these requirement specs are just logical speculation as Google has not officially declared the necessary specs for a mobile to be branded as ‘daydream ready’.

        • Blablablablablablabla7

          the phone wont work with daydream headset if not qualified.

          • Sgoman

            The Asus Zenfone 3 and Axon 7 smartphones. Have to have really fast and accurate sensors as well (accelerometer and gyroscope) in order to be Daydream VR compliant. So we have yet to determine if they have those really fast and accurate sensors.

  • Okay, what is ‘”persistence display”‘?

    • Grant Ding

      It’s when an LCD or plasma screen shows an image, and then stops displaying it, the image may stay there for a few seconds. Unlike burn-in, this is temporary, but it is another reason why AMOLED screens are better.

    • Shawn Hamm

      A low persistence display is one where pixels do not persist for a long time. There are tricks with an LCD display to reduce that persistence. Do a search on strobed backlight monitors, videos related to this will display persistence in a way that’s easy to understand.

  • Cyan Yu

    Wait, if Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe is Daydream compatible, why isn’t the OnePlus 3 isn’t?

    • Kris Carlon

      Exactly, this is where the confusion lies (and the problem with extrapolating a loose specs sheet like I had to). It is likely the sensors and persistence of the display that causes one device to be ‘in’ and the other to be ‘out’.

      • Technobro

        They use lower quality higher latency sensors in the oneplus 3 to save them and their customers money. Also, the USB C isn’t USB 3 speed, whereas the Zenfone 3 deluxe and axon 7 are. You have to have a very accurate gyroscope for VR or you will get sick.

    • Chuck Jones

      It’s mainly because the OP3 is a POS phone made by a POS company, run by a pair of POS idiots.
      Get over Oneplus, quit being fooled by their corner-cut phones!

  • Rohit Raja

    Wow a Zenfone is on the list …

  • Android Developer

    Nexus 5x might not be compatible?

  • Evan Adams

    Thank you for writing this. I have been looking fo info on all of this daydream stuff. I’ve been out of contract for a year now (using a 2013 phone) and I chose to not get a new phone the moment Daydream was announced. But typical Google the announcement was not followed by any meat.

    Is a low persistence display something that can be ‘known’ from specs or testing? How do we know what is low persistence?

    For the mention of the “Qualcomm Hexagon DSP” is that something built into the 820? Or is it another chip?

    For sensors, the moto z sure seems like something screaming for a VR mod. But I wonder what it’s display stats are?

  • Daydream VR Remote Sucks. Won’t betting on it until they figure that out. C’mon there’s no trigger on that Damned Thing.

    • Sgoman

      There is a number of buttons as well as a touch pad, and it has an accelerometer and gyroscope built into the controller.

  • amanieux

    strange that their specs include oled screens for low latency but don’t care about resolution (1080p is not a lot) or chromatic aberration from the lenses. i have both ips and oled screens and chromatic aberration i see from the lenses is much more annoying than screen latency.

  • annoyeddragon

    I’m wondering about project ara and if there will be a “build your own” Daydream compatible specification. No one seems to be talking about ara in relation to VR.

    • Alexander T

      I’m more blown away that no one is talking about project tango in relation to vr. That’s the answer to room scale

      • stolzyboy

        If you watch the announcement of the Moto Z [Force], they announced another phone and displayed some of the Daydream and Project Tango features. It was really quite cool. I’m sure it’s on youtube.

    • stolzyboy

      Project Ara has been killed off recently by Google unfortunately. I was really looking forward to that phone.

  • Isak

    Is the Xperia Z5 daydream ready?

    • Mogen

      According to the article, most likely not, as it uses LCD display

      • Sgoman

        It has nothing to do with the display type. It has to do with the CPU/GPU and sensors (accelerometer and gyroscope) for head tracking. Remember Daydream VR requires Android 7 and above, with Vulkan graphics APIs.

  • Mara Glubka

    I’m watching and waiting for a Daydream ready phone. They may have relaxed their screen rez requirements, but I haven’t. I’m holding out for 4K and look forward to 8K in a couple of years. Pixels are very noticeable in VR. The higher the rez, the better the realism. Almost as important to me is the quality of the headset. Light, balanced and comfortable in the smallest possible form factor, please. I feel that Daydream is likely going to be the number one VR format out of the chute for the masses. It will be within reach of most people financially and people just have to upgrade their phones to play. Affordability and portability will make Daydream a big winner. Untethered is very appealing to me. Even with high-end VR, the headsets should eventually be wireless or self-contained.

    • Sgoman

      It’s not only the screen resolution, but the head tracking as well. So you need to have fast and accurate sensors like the ones found on the Pixel phones. They can sample at a rate of 200 samples per second. Most smartphones can only sampl at 20-30 per second.

  • Da Fuq

    Does Daydream require USB 3.x?

    • tillusB

      no.

  • jldevoy

    Seems to be give and take, a HD display wouldn’t look quite as nice, but it would probably run faster as it has fewer pixels to push.

  • marco

    lcd displays are much better for vr than the oled i dont know why you put lcd display phones as unlikely to be Daydream certifiable. the oled display have a green sub-pixel that in vr is very annoying

    • Sgoman

      It’s not the display. It’s the CPU/GPU as well as the head tracking sensors (accelerometer and gyroscope).

  • Ruslan K

    is Xiaomi Mi 5s compatible with Daydream?

  • Joetmeister

    I wonder if Microsoft Lumia 950 XL is compatible.

    • Sgoman

      Get real, of course not. It’s running a completely different OS.

  • user

    lg g4 compatible ??

    • Sgoman

      LG G4 is not compatible. It has a SD 808 and it’s sensors cannot sample at a high rate. So it is definitely not a Daydream VR device.