This tutorial is intended for Samsung phones only, it wasn’t tested on other mobile brands, and it’s mainly for VR movies and Cardboard VR games using a third party VR player, as most Gear VR games and apps will still to rely on the external sensors.
You already have a universal VR headset like Fiit VR or BoboVR or whatever the brand and you are satisfied from the 3D rendering quality.
You bought a Galaxy S6 (edge), S7 (edge) or S8 lately but you are not ready to throw another 130$ (for S8) on a samsung Gear VR headset for economical reason or just because you never know when you will switch back to another brand like HTC or LG making the Gear VR useless.
First what are the differences between Gear VR and universal VR headsets?
-Gear VR has an Accelerometer, a Gyro Sensor and a Proximity Sensor.
-FOV is 96 as marketed but about tested 89.9
-Gear VR mode is enabled when you put the phone in, this mode use a special combination of white balance and Hz making the image quality cleaner.
-Gear VR has a special menu where you can download compatible apps and games.
-Universal headsets don’t have any sensors
-BoboVR Z4 has a marketed 120 FOV but given tests it’s 88.6
-Both Gear VR and universal VR headsets can use controllers via BT, the 2017 Gear VR comes with one included, but you can find many combos over Aliexpress and even though they are really cheap if you want to buy a single unit (3 to 5$).
So as you can see the Gear VR has an advantage in terms hardware with its own sensors and software as it activates the special Gear VR mode on the screen making a full usage of the Amoled. Though you can use the software mode with any headsets, making the image quality extremely close specially with high FOV headsets with good quality lenses like Fiit VR and BoboVR Z4, and also access all the apps and games from Oculus Gear VR home (but you will be limited due to the lack of sensors)!!
First thing first: The Oculus app
If you don’t have the Oculus app already available on your samsung phone, you can download it from apkmirror.com
This app is the backbone of the Gear VR system, once you download it just install it, it will download additional files and install them. Wait for the complete installation to finish.
Download SideloadVR app
You need to download this app from Google Playstore, this app will allow us to download signed VR apps compatible with the Gear VR Oculus system so we can enable the developer mode later.
Once you install this app now pick any app in its menu and download it, any of them should be good.
Of course once downloaded be sure the app is now in your phone.
Enabling Gear VR developer mode
Now that we have all the apps we need installed and ready, go to your samsung phone’s settings, then Apps, then Gear VR Service
-Click on Storage
-Click on Manage Storage
-Press several times on VR service version until it says you are a developer
-Enable Add icon to app list, it will let you access the Gear VR mode from your app drawer
Voila! You have now a Gear VR screen mode + Home working with your beloved and cheap VR headset.
Tested with VR movies and I can say it’s a big step forward in terms of quality compared to the same headset but without this mode ON.
Bare in mind most Gear VR apps need the sensors from the headset so you won’t be able to really use most of them as they don’t have a reset option unless you turn your head toward what they picked as horizontal view. This tutorial is mainly for VR movies and VR apps like Var’s VR player that can use the full screen + edges of samsung phones, as well as any Cardboard VR games (on Google Playstore) the Gear VR mode will boost the screen quality.
Also don’t be surprised to see the white balance changing as well the whites flickering, it’s the effect of the Gear VR mode enabling 60hz and special color palette.