Google Daydream VR may not be the most high-end virtual reality platform out there (that award goes to the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and HTC Vive Pro), but it is a big step up from the company’s first VR effort, Google Cardboard. But which Daydream-ready phones can you buy right now?
We already have a pretty in-depth article that covers just about everything you need to know about Google Daydream, but right now we’re going to talk about which smartphones are Daydream ready, which Daydream-compatible phones are coming down the pipeline, and the list of requirements for Daydream-ready phones.
First, you might be wondering, what does “Daydream-ready” even mean?
What is Daydream ready?
“Daydream ready” is the term Google uses to define devices with all the necessary specifications required to effectively run 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.”
It’s as simple as that — Daydream-ready smartphones need to be designed to run high-quality mobile virtual reality experiences through Google’s Daydream View headsets. As for specifics, we’ll talk about Daydream VR specs at the bottom of this article.
Confirmed Daydream-ready phones
Below you’ll find a list of all the Daydream ready phones on the market or coming to market soon:
- Google Pixel
- Google Pixel XL
- ZTE Axon 7
- ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe
- Motorola Moto Z
- Motorola Moto Z Force
- Motorola Moto Z2 Force
- Huawei Mate 9 Pro
- Porsche Design Mate 9
- ASUS ZenFone AR
- Samsung Galaxy S8
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- LG V30
- Google Pixel 2
- Google Pixel 2 XL
- Motorola Moto Z2 Force
- LG V30/V30 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Notice anything missing? You may have noticed there are a few notable devices missing from the list, including:
HTC phones: So far, HTC has not yet released any phones that will work with Google’s Daydream platform. That may be due in part to the fact that Google prefers, though does not officially require, that Daydream-ready phones have an OLED display, which is something that HTC’s recent phones do not have.
Google Daydream View headset
If you own one of the phones on the list above that supports Daydream VR apps, you can purchase Google’s Daydream View headset to use them in full virtual reality. The current version of the Daydream View headset launched in the fall of 2017. It includes a removable, over-the-top head strap to keep it secure on your head. This should make it more comfortable to wear compared to the original version that was released in 2016. However, at 9.2 ounces, the 2017 edition is a tad heavier than the original.
More importantly, the field of view of the Daydream View 2017 headset is larger at 100 degrees, compared to 90 degrees for the 2016 edition. That means you should be able to see more of the Daydream VR apps that you can download to your phone via Google Play, and you should also get more detail from that wider viewpoint. The headset still comes with a controller, which has a touchpad and also the usual home, back, and volume controls. It also senses motion, which is important in using it for VR apps.
You can get the Daydream View headset for $99 at Best Buy, in “charcoal” (black) “fog” (grey) and “coral” (pink) colors. At the moment, there’s no indication Google plays to release an update 2018 edition of the Daydream View headset when its major hardware press event is held on October 9.
Daydream stand-alone VR headsets
In May 2017, at its I/O developer conference, Google announced that stand-alone VR headsets that support its Daydream platform would be launched by HTC and Lenovo. However, HTC announced later that year that its Daydream-based headset had been canceled, in favor of its own HTC Vive Focus product.
Lenovo finally launched its Daydream stand-alone VR headset in May 2018, one year after it was announced. The Lenovo Mirage Solo include lenses that offer a 110-degree field of view. It also has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor inside, along with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, a headphone jack, and a 4,000mAh battery that will allow the headset to last up to 3 hours on a single charge. It’s available to purchase now for $399.99.
Huawei also announced plans to launch a Daydream-based stand-alone VR headset in 2017. While some FCC documents in late 2017 showed what looked like a Daydream-based VR controller from Huawei, the company has yet to officially reveal that promised VR product.
Daydream ready specs
Back in November 2016, Google finally clarified its requirements for Daydream-ready phones. The full list can be found below:
- MUST have at least 2 physical cores.
- MUST support sustained performance mode.
- MUST support Vulkan Hardware Level 0 and SHOULD support Vulkan Hardware Level 1.
- MUST support H.264 decoding at least 3,840 x 2,160 @ 30fps-40Mbps.
- MUST support HEVC and VP9 decoding at least 1,920 x 1,080 @ 30 fps-10Mbps, and SHOULD be capable of decoding 3,840 x 2,160 @ 30fps-20Mbps (equivalent to 4 instances of 1,920 x 1,080 @ 30fps-5Mbps).
- STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to support android.hardware.sensor.hifi_sensors feature, and MUST meet the gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer related requirements for android.hardware.hifi_sensors.
- MUST have an embedded screen, and its resolution MUST be at least be Full HD (1080p) and STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to be Quad HD (1440p) or higher.
- MUST measure between 4.7″ and 6″ diagonal.
- MUST update at least 60 Hz while in VR Mode.
- The display latency on Gray-to-Gray, White-to-Black, and Black-to-White switching time MUST be ≤ 3 ms.
- The display MUST support a low-persistence mode with ≤5 ms persistence.
- Device implementations MUST support Bluetooth 4.2 and Bluetooth LE Data Length Extension.
The full list of requirements is available here. A quick note on verbiage: “MUST” means that the requirement is mandatory, while “STRONGLY RECOMMENDED” and “SHOULD” mean that Google allows manufacturers to go against its recommendations.
There are a few things worth noting here. For starters, you’ll notice that having an OLED display isn’t a requirement. However, the need for low latency and persistency probably means that LCD phones might not make the cut. In addition, 1080p displays are supported, but it’s strongly recommended for phones to have 1440p screens if they want to be Daydream compatible.
Did we miss anything? Let us know what else you’d like to know about Google Daydream in the comments below!