We’re just two months away from the anniversary of the reveal of the consumer Gear VR. That begs the question: is its successor just around the corner?
A new listing on an Indian import database seems to suggest so. As spotted by Dutch Samsung fansite, Galaxy Club, the listing gives reference to a new model number for the device, SM-R323. As you can see on Samsung’s own support site, the current version of the Gear VR has a model number of SM-R322 and its predecessor, the Innovator Edition Gear VR for the Galaxy S6, is listed as SM-R321. By extension, this new model number suggests that the newest version of the device is in the works.
But why update just a year on? While annual refreshes aren’t anything new for companies like Samsung, there are several reasons a new model of the Gear VR might be essential. Back in May, for example, we reported on rumours that Samsung’s next entry in its Galaxy Note series of enlarged phones, the unannounced Galaxy Note 6, would feature a new type of USB port, USB Type-C. Gear VR connects to the current line of Galaxy smartphones with a microUSB input that wouldn’t accommodate this change. Logically, this might necessitate a new model for the device.
But there are plenty of other reasons we’d want to see a refresh for Gear VR, many of which still seem like a distant goal. Positional tracking, for example, has still not been achieved on a mobile headset, and revising the kit’s form factor to make it ever lighter and smaller is also essential to helping overall immersion within VR. We have no idea if Samsung will look to make any of these improvements with the next model of its kit; the company could just simply update to support this rumoured new phone.
Another big mystery is how a new Samsung VR headset might play into Google’s new Daydream ecosystem, which encompasses a variety of phones. You might think the two were set to be rivals, but Samsung will be making a Daydream-ready smartphone (perhaps the Note 6 itself?), suggesting that it isn’t opposed to the idea of cooperation. Could this new headset perhaps present a unique hybrid of both Oculus Home and Daydream compatibility?
As for when we might see the potential new device, we’d expect to hear something towards the end of the year, should Samsung and Oculus follow the same pattern as last year’s announcements. The consumer Gear VR was revealed at the Oculus Connect 2 developer conference in September, but we don’t yet know if that show will be returning in two months’ time. And, of course, the Note 6 is likely to be announced before the proposed new model is.
Hopefully we’ll have answers to these questions soon.