Much of the buzz from Samsung’s big reveal for its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ smartphones included new accessories designed to work in tandem with them—a new Gear 360 camera and new Gear VR headset. Plus, a new docking station rounds out an interesting mix.
The combined unveiling mirrors what Samsung has done in its last few launches, including ancillary accessories that expand what the phone can do.
Starting with the Gear 360, this new iteration is a noticeable departure from its inaugural predecessor. The top with the lenses is much smaller, and is in one piece with the base below it. Samsung packed the battery into the stem, leaving the imaging components in the sphere above it. The previous model had a detachable tripod that attached to the bottom of the spherical part. Here, the standard screw mount is at the bottom of the stem for you to attach to tripods and selfie sticks.
This model has two 8.4MP image sensors and f/2.2 aperture fisheye lenses capable of shooting at 4096 x 2048 resolution in 24fps for MP4 video files (H.265) and 15MP jpegs (when stills are stitched together). In other words, it can shoot still photos or video in 4K resolution, four times that of 1080p. It’s also double what the previous model was capable of.
The microSD card slot can handle cards up to 256GB in storage. There is a visible USB-C port for charging and connecting to a computer. The small LED is also on the stem, with the recording button right above it.
Compatibility with the new camera includes the Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge, Note 5, A5 and A7. Beyond that, it will also with other Android devices running version 5.0 Lollipop or later. Even the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus and iPhone SE will work with it.
The big change with the new Gear VR headset is the addition of a remote controller with a motion sensor. There is a strap to keep the remote attached to the headset when not in use, but it’s how it changes usage that is a bigger deal.
The small remote has a trigger button, touchpad and buttons for back, menu and volume. It is like a laser pointer when seeing it through the Oculus Home interface that runs on the headset. Load times are supposed to be faster, with improved battery life to boot. Oculus avatars previously introduced in the Oculus Rift are also going to be made available.
Samsung has announced that 70 new Gear VR titles with controller support for the new Gear VR. The first batch of 20 will launch in April, while the remaining 50 will come in the next few months.
The Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, S6 edge+, S6 and S6 edge are confirmed to be compatible with the new headset. The remote could be backward compatible with the current Gear VR headset too.
A new DeX
There are still some details left to be announced for the DeX, but the gist is that this docking station allows people to use either Galaxy phone with a desktop monitor, keyboard and mouse. It has two USB ports and HDMI port, including a fan to keep the phone cooler.
Samsung’s own apps and third-party Android apps will be accessible, but it’s not clear how many of them will be optimized to work with the DeX’s unique full-screen interface. It looks like a cross between Android and Google’s Chrome OS.
No pricing or availability was announced, so it’s unknown when Samsung will officially launch it.
More information will be coming on when to expect the new Gear 360 and new Gear VR to become available.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are available for pre-order now. Cases and screen protectors for both will also be available by the time they launch on April 21.