Best VR Headsets for Android Phones in 2020

VR Headset

Did you know that you could plunge yourself into the world of virtual reality using a cheap VR headset that is already compatible with your phone?

If you want to immerse yourself into the world of virtual reality without paying an arm and a leg, then phone VR headsets are your best option.

EDIT (March 2020): I do not recommend mobile-tethered VR headsets anymore for reasons explained in my previous article. If you want a cheap and simple VR headset, just buy the Oculus Go (link to Amazon). You can also read my overview of the Oculus Go headset here!

If it is your first time experiencing VR, these little devices will blow your mind, considering just how affordable they are, with some costing less than $20. A lot of the mobile VR glasses available come compatible with most smartphones, all you need is a high-resolution display and a few other things.

There is a horde of VR headsets for android phones in the market right now. Consequently, it is difficult to know which one would be worth your time in terms of performance, compatibility with your phone and comfort. That is why I have prepared this review to highlight some of the best VR headsets for android phones.

Note that I have not physically tested all the devices listed in this review. On the contrary, I have carried out thorough research to find out what real life users as well as experts think about them – so that you wouldn’t have to and could spend the time on something else.

Best Android Mobile VR headset 2020 – Quick summary and comparison

After hours of research and reading different materials, Samsung Gear VR is the VR headset for android that I would personally go for. It beats the Google Daydream View mainly due to the fact that it has a wider range of apps and games to choose from.

Nonetheless, both options only work with a handful of flagship android devices and neither warrants spending money to buy a new phone. If you own an iPhone, you should know that neither the Daydream nor the Gear work well with Apple smartphones.

Here is a summary of all the smartphone VR headsets as well what they are best suited for.

Table of comparison

Product Price Comments
Best Overall –
Samsung Gear VR
Check Price (Amazon) Based on my findings, Samsung Gear mobile VR headset
offers users the best overall VR experience thanks to its
high-quality performance as well as a wide range of content.

Even though phone displays are not as vivid compared to tethered
or standalone VR kits, this phone VR headset still immerses you
in an intense VR experience. However, it is only compatible with
Samsung phones.
Best Alternative –
Google Daydream View
Check Price (Amazon) The Google Daydream VR headset is the perfect alternative for
Android users who do not own a VR-enabled Samsung phone to
use with Samsung’s Gear VR. It supports a slightly larger pool of
android phones and offers a very high-quality VR experience.
Best Entry Level –
Google Cardboard
Check Price (Amazon) Although the Google Cardboard comes as the most basic
VR headset on our list, it is also the easiest, cheapest and most user-friendly way for beginners to experience virtual reality.
Most Compatible Entry Level
BNext VR Headset
Check Price (Amazon)
The BNext VR headset is one of the cost-friendly headsets out in the
market and compatible with most android as well as iOS devices
Most Compatible Cheap Alternative –
Canbor VR Headset
Check Price (Amazon) The Canbor VR headset performs better than pretty much any
cardboard headset in the market and is compatible with both android
and Apple devices.

Nonetheless, its performance is not that far from that of a normal
cardboard VR, which explains its inexpensive price.


Samsung Gear VR – The Best Overall VR headset for Android Phones

Samsung Gear VR Headset
Samsung Gear VR – Click on the image to see more information and photos from Amazon

The Samsung Gear mobile VR headset is an excellent piece of technology that offers users the best overall VR experience. The package box comes with an ergonomically designed controller that responds seamlessly to natural body movements.

The headset has nice padding and the straps are adjustable for the perfect fit. It also comes with a dial for adjusting the lens, which accounts for different pupil distances. The lens in this device provide a wide field of view of 101-degrees.

Samsung’s mobile VR headset weighs a bit more (25%) than the Daydream and is compatible with VR enabled Samsung phones. These include: Note8, Note5, Galaxy S9, S9+, S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, S6 Edge+, and Galaxy A8, just to mention a few. It is also compatible with the Galaxy Note 9, however, you will need a separate adapter for you to enjoy the best VR experience.

This plug and play VR headset is not the easiest to set up and use straight out of the box. For instance, you will have to attach the straps yourself and the mechanism for attaching the phone is a bit difficult to get the hang of. It uses two clips; one which can be plugged into your phone’s USB type-C or micro-USB. No additional settings are required after plugging in. If you are having trouble, the attached user manual comes in very handy.

Once the headset is sitting comfortably across your face, then all the fun can begin. The UI in the Gear feels very intuitive and rich. If you have used the more expensive Oculus Rift VR headset before, you will recognize the UI as Oculus home.

For the best VR experience, we recommend you check out this list of curated games, videos and other content*. If you play normal games and 2D videos, your experience will be mediocre at best. You can find games such as Monument Valley, Minecraft, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Land’s End among many others. This diverse range of quality content is what really sets the Gear apart.

The Gear VR comes with a handheld controller that connects to your phone via Bluetooth. It tracks the position of your hand and lets you interact with VR in a more natural way, adding to the immersive experience. In most games, it is limited to pointing and clicking to select something instead of interacting with an object directly. In some games such as Drop Dead*, however, this controller turns into a complete gun with trigger and all.

Furthermore, you can also use the touchpad on the side of the Gear VR which contains the home and back buttons to control your phone. This allows for some quick interactions, but most users report that it is tiresome to use over long periods. This could be because it’s not directly visible and you need to remember different combinations such as tapping and swiping to interact with the VR.

Pros

  • Wide field of view offers immersive experience
  • User friendly controller
  • Excellent UI
  • Comfortable to wear

Cons

  • The Gear is a bit heavy especially after attaching a phone
  • Not compatible with non-Samsung smartphones


Amazon Questions Summary (FAQ about the product)

Q: What is the difference between the U.S. version and the International Samsung Gear version?

A: They are the same product and the difference may only exist in price competitiveness.

Q: What is included with this product?

A: The package comes with:

  • Gear VR + Head Strap
  • Remote Controller + AA Battery 2ea
  • English Manua
  • Micro-USB & USB-C type Smartphone connecting Adapter


Amazon Reviews Summary

Most Amazon buyers found the VR experience using the Gear VR to be amazing, especially the movie theater. According to one user, the VR theater has the potential to eventually end the movie theater business. The picture quality is stunning, the product is lightweight and comfortable, which makes for a great VR experience, especially for first time users.

Most users described the Gear VR as affordable, compared to other options and convenient for using with phones you already own. For a more immersive experience, the use of headphones is recommended.

Among the issues raised by customers, one of the prominent ones was the remote controller which several people found impractical and difficult to pair with their phones.

The other issue is the fact that you need to purchase content and apps via Facebook’s Oculus platform. This put some people off due to concerns about privacy because of Facebook’s history of gathering personal information.

Verdict

The Samsung Gear provides access to more than 1,000 games, apps, 3D videos and 360-degree experiences on the Oculus platform. This is the largest collection of content in any mobile VR headset.

Even though phone displays are not as vivid compared to tethered or standalone VR kits, this phone VR headset still manages to immerse you in an intense VR experience. However, it is only compatible with Samsung phones.

The Samsung Gear VR is the best mobile VR headset for you if you are looking for a high-quality mobile VR headset and own (or planning to own) a VR-enabled Samsung phone. If you are thinking of buying, you can get more information and make the purchase from Amazon.


Google Daydream View – Best alternative To Samsung Gear

Google Daydream View Mobile VR Headset
Google Daydream View – Click on the image to see more information and photos from Amazon

The Google Daydream VR headset is the perfect alternative for Android users who do not own a VR-enabled Samsung phone to use with Samsung’s Gear VR. It comes in soft materials that are very comfortable to wear as well as a hand-tracking controller that most people find more natural to use compared to Samsung’s Gear VR.

The Daydream is compatible with a larger number of smartphones, which it connects to via NFC technology. These include Google Pixel 3, Pixel 2, Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S10, S9, S9+, S8, S8+, Note 8, 9 and 10, ZenFone AR, LG V30, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, Mate 10 Pro, Mate 30 Pro, Moto Z, Moto Z2, just to name a few.

Inside the headset, you will find the home screen with various apps on a minimal and enjoyable user interface. To select, you just need to point with the hand holding the attached controller and click.

This product comes with free VR apps such as YouTube and HBO, which now provide VR-ready content. Nonetheless, there are still fewer apps and games on the View compared to the Gear. Besides YouTube and HBO, you can try out SculptrVR, a game which allows you to build a world of your own or visit Wonderglade, a virtual amusement park that offers a pleasant VR experience.

The Daydream headset is light and comfortable to wear thanks to the T-shirt-like fabric it is made from. It sits squarely on your head using the single adjustable strap that can stretch generously. Although this makes it easier to adjust, it is also prone to sliding down your face.

The compact size spotted in this product means that a few features had to be sacrificed. For instance, the field of view is smaller compared to that of the Gear VR. This gives the mild sensation of watching down a diving mask even when using phones with similar screen size and resolution.

The simple oval-shaped controller that comes attached to the Daydream fits naturally in most people’s hands. It comes with two buttons and a clickable touchpad. It can track your hand’s position, allowing you to interact with various objects in the VR world.

For example, in the puzzle game Mekorama, you can reach out with your arm and manipulate objects in the VR world as if they were made of building blocks. In Wonderglade, you can hit a golf ball by simply swinging the controller like a club.

Once you install the necessary software on your phone, it will take you just a few minutes before you can start enjoying all the various videos and games.

Unlike the Gear VR, the Daydream is easier to set up since the strap comes attached already. To position your phone, just unhook the clip, slide it in and fasten it back.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Comfortabl
  • Useful remote controller makes VR immersiv
  • High-quality VR experiences

Cons

  • Not much VR content yet
  • Compatibility issues


Amazon Questions Summary (FAQ about the product)

Q: Can I use this with an iPhone?

A: No, it only works with android devices

Q: Will my phone work with the Google Daydream

A: Here’s Google’s list of phones that are optimized for use with this headset. And here is an article that lists other features such as dimensions etc.

Q: Are these good for watching movies?

A: Yes, especially videos optimized for VR such as 3D and 360-degree videos. However, it would be uncomfortable to wear for a whole film.

Amazon Reviews Summary

According to most reviewers on Amazon, the Google daydream unit is sleek and clean looking. More importantly, it provides for a very immersive VR experience, whether watching 3D videos or playing some of the interesting games available.

Most people found the material used to make the Daydream soft and comfortable to wear, even over long periods. Nonetheless, some users complained of their phones overheating when using this device which makes it uncomfortable to use.

If you are experiencing such issues with your phone, we recommend you keep your phone cool by using one of those cooling gel packs behind the phone while using the Daydream.

Other than that, most users on Amazon report that this headset works as expected for a phone VR system. The image may be a little blurry depending on the quality of the video you are watching as well as your phone’s capabilities. Otherwise Google has implemented some fine features that work well with their product.

Verdict about the product

The Google Daydream is an excellent first-generation mobile VR headset. It is suitable for a variety of android phone brands while providing hundreds of apps, games and 360-degree video experiences. It can also connect to Chromecast where you can stream your VR experience on the TV for your friends and family to enjoy.

Another advantage of the Daydream is that it is made of soft, light and breathable components, which makes it very comfortable to wear.

If you are an android user searching for a high-quality mobile VR headset and you are not shy to part with a few bucks, then the Daydream is your best option. If the product sparked interest in you, you can get it from Amazon.


Google Cardboard – Best entry-level VR Headset for Android

Google Cardboard VR Headset
Google Cardboard – Click on the image to see more information and photos from Amazon

The easiest and cheapest way to have a VR experience using your smartphone is by purchasing a cardboard viewer from Google or another VR company. Cardboard viewers are literally made from cardboard and lenses and some start at less than $10 apiece. If you are crafty enough, you can even build one yourself thus have some fun while saving a few bucks.

That being said, cardboard viewers are far from the real deal and are aimed to those who want an inexpensive introduction to VR. For instance, Google Daydream works with pretty much any smartphone, even though the experience is not that engaging when using a phone with a low-resolution display.

The Cardboard has a slot for placing your phone. If your phone has NFC technology, the Cardboard app will be automatically launched. These little googles will let you enjoy various games, visit interesting places around the world using Google earth and let you immerse yourself in 360-degree videos on YouTube.

One drawback worth mentioning is the fact that this headset does not come with head straps, as such, you will have to hold one over your eyes to enjoy the VR experience.

Pros

  • Inexpensive introduction into VR
  • Very user-friendly
  • No need for extra software

Cons

  • Limited content
  • Uncomfortable to use over long periods
  • Offers basic VR experience


Amazon Questions Summary (FAQ about the product)

Q: What is the best app for the google cardboard?

A: Google Cardboard

Q: Which phones does Google Cardboard work well with?

A: Works with phones with screen sizes from four to six inches

Q: Can the cardboard break?

A: Yes, it is made of paper. But with proper handling, one can stay for more than a year and still be in great shape

Amazon Reviews Summary

Most Amazon reviewers were thoroughly impressed with how well Google designed such a product from cardboard and how well it works. Most users were surprised at how sturdy it is, too. Considering that it costs under $20, there is not much more one can ask for.

A lot of people touted the cardboard as the best and most inexpensive way to test out VR. The few games and videos available, especially on YouTube are easy to access. Most people do not get blown away by it, but it forms for a great way to have some fun with VR.

One issue mentioned by more several reviewers is a little disorientation when using the goggles. Others complained that the viewers do not provide enough grip to prevent the phone from slipping out from the sides.

Verdict about the product

Although the Google Cardboard comes as the most basic VR headset on our list, it is also the easiest, cheapest and most user-friendly way for beginners to experience virtual reality.

All you need to do is assemble the headset, which takes a couple of minutes and slide your phone into the case, and you are ready to have your first VR experience. It is a cheap and risk-free option of taking the new VR technology for a test drive.


BNext Virtual Reality Headset for iPhone & Android –
Most compatible entry-level mobile VR Headset

BNext VR Headset for Android and Apple Phones
BNext VR Headset – Click on the image to see more information and photos from Amazon

The BNext VR headset is another excellent viewer designed to work with both Android and iPhones. This ergonomically designed mobile VR kit is meant to transform your mobile phone into an immersive theater or a powerful gaming device.

It is compatible with popular smartphone brands with up to 6.3-inch screen sizes. These include; Samsung Galaxy S9, S9 Plus, S8, S7, S6, Note 5, Note 7, as well as iPhone X, XS, XR, 8, 8 Plus, 7, and 7 plus.

It is fitted with aspherical lenses that support focus distance (FD) and pupil distance (PD) adjustments. The lenses provide a wide viewing angle which improves image quality and minimizes distortion. As a result, the BNext Mobile VR headset is ideal for myopic, hyperopic, and astigmatic individuals. Note that the quality of the images, however, will depend on your phone’s capabilities.

For a comfortable fit, the head straps are fully adjustable, not to mention the eyesight protection system that enables you to watch or play for longer. The BNext also spots a padded interior design that simulates the texture of the human screen to reduce pressure on your face while using the headset.

The phone VR headset is delivered with a free VR content list. These include VR games compatible with google cardboard apps and VR adventures that can be found on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

However, since it does not have any buttons or a controller, this VR headset can only be used with apps that utilize motion control only. So be sure to read the descriptions before downloading any apps. Moreover, all your downloading and activation must be carried out on the phone before sliding it into the headset because of the lack of buttons.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Great user experience
  • Simple to set up and connect to multiple devices – both android and iOS

Cons

  • Limited content
  • Cumbersome to interact with the headset due to lack of physical buttons


Amazon Questions Summary (FAQ about the product)

Q: Are batteries required

A: No batteries required. You simply insert the phone inside it, and it powers your headset.

Q: Can a phone be attached with the phone case still on?

A: Only if the case is very thin. Most of the cases will not fit easily in most VR headsets

Q: Will this work with iPhone 5 and iPhone 6s?

A: Yes, it will

Q: Can I wear glasses with this headset?

A: Yes. This VR headset can fit glasses with minimal frames. However, considering the lenses are adjustable it can simply be used without the need for glasses whatsoever.

Amazon Reviews Summary

According to verified purchasers on Amazon, the picture quality of the BNext Mobile VR is excellent when using high-end phones and it is super easy to use. Moreover, many users described the headset as fairly comfortable to wear and the price as very affordable.

The BNext is pretty easy to set everything for most users, taking only five minutes before it is ready for use. The VR-ready content that comes along with the BNext VR is also a huge plus, especially for those who are new to VR and are not familiar with where to find such content.

Not everyone was happy though. Some users cited that this viewer has a very limited viewing range, even compared to Google cardboard. This makes it appear as though you were looking through a tunnel at the VR video.

Other users complained of poor-quality picture, but most of them were using phones with low-resolution displays. Overall, most Amazon shoppers agree that the BNext VR is a decent mobile VR headset, especially for beginners.

Verdict

The BNext VR headset is one of the cost-friendly headsets out in the market and compatible with most android as well as iOS devices. It does a great job delivering high-quality images, but this will be totally dependent on the quality of your phone’s display.

Nonetheless, since it does not come with a controller or buttons, therefore, it is most suited for games and apps that use motion control.

This is a decent VR headset for new VR enthusiasts who are willing to spend a bit more than on a basic VR cardboard.


Canbor VR Headset – Compatible With Variety of Phones

Canbor VR Mobile Headset
Canbor VR – Click on the image to see more information and photos from Amazon

The Canbor Mobile VR kit is a decent piece of technology thanks to its outstanding visuals and comfort during any VR experience. It comes compatible with both Android and Apple smartphones.

Particularly, this VR headset works well with Samsung S9 plus/ S9/S8, S7 Note 8, Sony, and Huawei smartphones. It also does well with the iPhone X/ 8/ 8 Plus, 7/ 7 plus / 6s and 6s plus.

Canbor VR comes equipped with a set of high-performance aspherical lenses that produce high quality images. The PMMA lenses are also designed to eliminate visual fatigue thanks to their anti-radiation and anti-blue light properties.

This mobile VR kit comes with a wide field of view of up to 120-degrees. The wide viewing angle provides an immersive video watching experience – most users describe the feeling as being in your own personal theater.

It is possible to adjust both the focus distance (FD) and pupil distance (PD) on the Canbor VR headset, meaning that even people with myopia (0-800 degrees) can enjoy a decent VR experience without glasses. It is also big enough to fit glasses with small frames.

Although it is compatible with most smartphones, it does not mean that your phone is suited for VR. The image quality will reflect this in low-resolution phones as most things are slightly blurry and there is a delay in movement, which can cause slight motion sickness. This is not as obvious when looking at objects that are not moving.

When it comes to fit, the Canbor phone VR headset uses an adjustable T-shaped head strap and an eco-friendly interior made of soft leather. Coupled with the eye-protective lenses, these viewers can be worn for a considerable amount of time without causing fatigue.

Furthermore, it weighs only 9.9 oz (280 g), meaning that the pressure on your face while watching or playing games will be minimal. The T-shaped straps can be adjusted to fit both children and adults.

Pros

  • Compatible with a wide range of android phones and iPhones
  • Comfortable, breathable and lightweight design
  • Adjustable pupil distance and focal distance
  • Minimize visual fatigue via anti-radiation and anti-blue light aspherical lenses
  • Capacitive touch button makes it easy to interact with the headset

Cons

  • Prone to overheating
  • Quality control issues
  • Low quality lenses
  • Cumbersome to use the controller – especially for gaming


Amazon Questions Summary (FAQ about the product)

Q: Does this work with my phone?

A: This VR headset is compatible with 4.0-6.3 inches Android/iPhone smartphones

 Q: Can I use it if I wear glasses?

A: People with myopia (0-800 degrees) can use the VR with naked eyes.

Q: Is there a headphone jack for sound?

A: No. you use the headphone jack on your phone. The front is not fully bounded, leaving enough space to plug in a headphone or charger 

Amazon Reviews Summary

According to reviewers on Amazon, you get a lot for what you pay for, especially considering the remote control and adjustable lenses fitted in this device. The picture quality is amazing if you are using a VR-enabled phone and most users find it totally worth it to watch 360 videos and 3D movies in the theater app.

Nonetheless, a lot of users found the remote a bit difficult and confusing to use. It comes with instructions, which you will have to memorize for each type of activity you want to do. Once you have this covered, however, most people really enjoyed the experience. This is a sturdy unit, but some people also reported that the padding around the headset peeled off after a few uses.

Overall, the Canbor smartphone VR headset is a good viewer specially for those seeking to experience a quality VR experience without breaking the bank.

Verdict

The Canbor VR headset performs better than pretty much any cardboard headset in the market and is compatible with both android and Apple devices. That being said, there is not much more to add to that statement. It offers an interactive experience into VR, but nothing that will blow your mind away. Also, it is a bit cumbersome to set up and use.

If you are looking for an entry-level device you can play around with, this is a good option. However, if you have an extra $30 to spare, you would be better off going for something better.


Things to consider when buying VR glasses for Android

Can I afford it?

When it comes to the amount of money you are willing to spend on a mobile VR headset, you should focus on the entire cost of both the VR kit as well as the phone needed to power it. This is because even though a VR headset can be affordable, VR-enabled phones tend to be expensive. Normally, it doesn’t warrant buying a totally new phone just to experience VR.

For instance, the Samsung Gear VR is an excellent piece of VR technology that costs under $200. Even so, it only works with flagship Samsung phones that cost an arm and a leg.

Similarly, Google Pixel phones work greatly with the Daydream or even the smartly designed Google cardboard which costs less than $20. Nonetheless, you will have to cough up at least $600 for even the cheapest Pixel phone.

Comfort

Another important factor that gets overlooked when shopping for VR headsets is the level of comfort. Remember that you will be strapping a box in front of your face. Combine the weight of your VR and that of your phone and it can get quite cumbersome to wear for long periods. That’s not all, the whole thing looks awkward.

In general, you want a VR kit that is as light as possible. The straps and general design also play a factor in this respect. Some heavier headsets are designed to distribute the weight better, hence feel lighter. On the other hand, others seem to have the entire weight concentrated around the nose area, making it very uncomfortable to wear.

Nonetheless, VR viewers that are really light are not always a great thing. For instance, VR kits made of cardboard such as the Google cardboard are very light but too fragile to attach straps to. As a result, you have to hold them over your face while watching.

The best VR headsets not only come with headsets made of comfortable material to wear but also offer a hand-tracking controller that makes it easier to interact with games and videos. Great VR headsets such as the Google daydream are comfortable enough for the wearer to forget that they are wearing one.

Content

All the tips and tricks for buying the best VR headsets for android phones are meaningless if there is not enough VR content. Samsung’s Gear utilizes the Oculus Rift platform which has over 1000 apps and games whereas the BNext VR also comes with some its own content.

The rest of the VR headsets in our review utilize the Google Daydream app which has hundreds of apps and games for most of their content. To cut a long story short, additional research in terms of the quality and quantity of content must be a top concern for anyone seeking to buy VR glasses for android phones.

The headsets viewing angle (field of view)

The field of view is simply the size of the picture you see when you wear the headset. A narrow viewing angle will make it seem like you are looking down a tunnel. A wide field of view, on the other hand allows you to experience the VR experience more fully and without distractions.

Should I get a mobile VR headset for android?

This is a question only you have the answer to. VR headsets are a lot of fun that can enhance how you play games, watch videos or share photos. It doesn’t matter whether you are an adult or a child, this technology holds something for everyone.

Besides fun and games, today, teachers are using VR and AR for educational purposes and tourists are able to visit their destinations virtually before they can decide whether they want to go or not. There are many more ways in which VR is being utilized and we can bet that more people in the future are going to interact with VR.

If you want to be one of the first people to usher in this new technology, our review of the best VR headsets for android and this quick guide hopefully helped you narrow down on which kit is most suitablefor you.

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Martin Rakver

I am a software engineer and tech enthusiast. During my free time, I like to immerse myself in the world of virtual and augmented reality, which I believe will be more and more prominent in the years to come.

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