If you want to get into mobile VR, you have two options. The first is to get one of the many high-end or standalone VR headsets available, which do their job brilliantly but come at a premium. The second option is to get yourself a VR headset that has to be paired with a smartphone, which complicates things a bit and may not offer the same experience as a standalone headset, but it can be much, much cheaper.
No matter which option you go with, there are plenty of devices to choose from. We’ve selected the best ones from both categories, which start at just $6 and go all the way up to over $1,000. Let’s dive in.
Best mobile VR headsets:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best mobile VR headsets regularly as new ones launch.
1. Oculus Go
If you’re looking for a standalone VR headset on a budget, this is the one to go with. It’s super portable as well as easy to use and does not have to be hooked up to a PC to work. Partially made of a breathable fabric, this headset is comfortable to wear for hours on end.
The Oculus Go is powered by the Snapdragon 821 chipset and sports a display with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution (538ppi). It has spatial audio built-in as well as an integrated microphone and comes with a wireless controller. The battery should be good for around two hours of gaming or up to 2.5 hours of media streaming.
The headset works with more than 1,000 games and applications, so you won’t get bored with it easily. You can get it from Amazon via the button below.
2. HTC Vive Pro
The HTC Vive Pro is aimed at hardcore VR enthusiasts. It offers an immersive experience thanks to its two AMOLED displays and adjustable built-in headphones with 3D spatial audio. The downside of this headset is that it’s not super portable since you have to connect it to a PC to make it work.
You need a good PC as well. The minimum requirement is a computer powered by the Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 chipset along with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics card. You can check out the rest of the requirements and test out your PC on HTC’s website here.
The HTC Vive Pro is the most expensive device on this list. The base price only includes the headset. The controllers, base stations, and the Vive wireless adapter are sold separately or as part of a Vive Pro Starter Kit.
3. PlayStation VR
This is a great option for gamers. It’s a dedicated PlayStation headset that works with every console from the PS4 family.
The PlayStation VR features a 5.7-inch OLED screen with Full HD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. It comes with a built-in microphone and offers immersive 3D audio. The headset doesn’t sport top-of-the-line specs, but it does have an impressive game library. It supports titles like Beat Saber, Skyrim VR, and DOOM VFR, among others.
Sony’s VR headset is not the best one overall you can get, but it is a great option if you already have a PlayStation gaming console. It’s relatively affordable and often comes bundled with a few great games.
4. Samsung Gear VR
Samsung’s Gear VR is super easy to use. Once you insert a smartphone into the device, the Oculus Gear VR app automatically launches and gives you access to over 600 games as well as loads of 360-degree video content via YouTube and similar services.
This mobile VR headset features a turning wheel on top that’s used to adjust the distance between the phone and display lenses, while the touchpad, volume controls, and home/back buttons are found on the right side. There’s also a companion controller included in the box that comes in handy when playing VR games.
The Gear VR headset is only compatible with Samsung smartphones.
The problem with the Gear VR is that it only works with Samsung smartphones, making it useless for those who have a device made by a different manufacturer. The headset is compatible with quite a few handsets including the Galaxy S10 series, the Galaxy Note 9, and most Samsung flagships released in the last few years. However, it is not compatible with the Galaxy Note 10 series. It looks like Samsung is giving up on virtual reality for now, as it’s not even selling the Gear VR anymore — you can still get it from other retailers, though.
5. Google Cardboard
The easiest and cheapest way to immerse yourself into the world of mobile VR is by getting your hands on a cardboard viewer from Google or a different company. These things are made of, well, cardboard, and start at just a few bucks. You can also build one yourself if you’re crafty and want to save money.
Cardboard viewers are far from ideal and aimed at those new to VR. They work with just about any handset, although the experience isn’t the best when using one with a low-resolution display.
The device has to be placed inside the viewer and if it has an NFC chip, the Cardboard app will launch automatically. You can play a few games, visit different places around the globe with Google Maps, and watch 360-degree videos on YouTube, among other things.
These viewers aren’t very comfortable and don’t have head straps, so you’ll have to hold one up to your face at all times.
The official Google Cardboard will set you back $15, while its clones start at $6 and go all the way up to $40. You can check them all out on Google’s website via the button below.
6. Zeiss VR One Plus
The VR One Plus headset from Zeiss is primarily made of plastic and works with smartphones featuring a screen size between 4.7 and 5.5 inches. However, it’s also compatible with loads of handsets with larger displays, provided they sport a so-called bezel-less design — like the Galaxy S10, for example.
The headset might not look quite as fancy as a few other products on this list, but it gets the job done. It lets you immerse yourself into the world of VR on the cheap and is available in the US. Pricing can vary from retailer to retailer, with Best Buy offering the best deal.
The Zeiss VR One Plus is cheaper than the likes of the Samsung Gear VR but more expensive than the Google Cardboard. You can check out exactly how much it goes for via the button below.
Which mobile VR headset is right for me?
Google Cardboard might be for you if you just want to try out mobile VR to see what exactly it has to offer. But if you see yourself playing VR games and watching 360-degree videos on a regular basis, you’re better off opting for one of the other options.
The Samsung Gear VR is a great option if you own a compatible Samsung device and don’t want to spend too much money. If you don’t own a Samsung phone, the Zeiss VR One Plus is the better choice.
To truly immerse yourself into the world of VR, a standalone headset that doesn’t need a phone to work is the way to go. The HTC Vive Pro is for hardcore users who also own a compatible PC and don’t mind the high price tag. If you want to save some money, avoid all those pesky wires, and get something you can take with you on the road, the Oculus Go is a much better option. For gamers who own a PlayStation console, the PlayStation VR is likely the best option.
There you have it — these are the best mobile VR headsets you can get your hands on at the moment. We’ll update this post with new models once they are launched.