Huawei is a company that currently has the fastest growth rate in the smartphone market. After becoming third largest smartphone manufacturer they now want to enter the world of VR. They already have a smartwatch that is looking really good, they’ve made a smart band for their phones, and their Kirin chipset is one of the few that can tackle with the ones from Qualcomm, Samsung and Apple. And now, to complete their smartphone accessories portfolio, they revealed their own VR kit, named Huawei VR (well, it doesn’t have to be named bombastically in order to succeed).
The kit is clearly designed with Gear VR in mind. Almost identical front side, with a slot to put your phone in. Stripes that should keep VR kit in place are placed almost the same as in other kits we had the opportunity to see, and generally, Huawei VR is really hard to distinguish from the Samsung Gear VR. The interesting thing is that Samsung doesn’t actually manufacture Gear VR, the job is handed to Oculus, now owned by Facebook. Huawei, on the other hand, announced that they will produce VR in-house, meaning that Huawei became the fourth company to actually manufacture VR kits, after Oculus, HTC (Vive), and Sony (PlayStation VR), which tells enough about production power Huawei has.
Actual performance will depend on the smartphone you use with it. Currently, only the newest models (P9 and Mate 8) are compatible with Huawei’s new VR kit, but as more models get announced this will change. Mind that P9 and Mate 8 smartphones are pretty powerful and are completely capable of running VR content. But, one thing that could become a serious problem is that Huawei doesn’t have a model with a resolution bigger than 1080p. 1080p is more than enough when using the phone as intended, PPI is just too high to notice any pixels and 1080p displays will drain the battery much less than QHD ones. But when enjoying VR content, 1080p will not be enough. The image on Samsung Gear VR looks relatively grainy even when new Galaxy S6 or S7 are connected, and both of those phones have QHD display resolution. Huawei said earlier that they won’t enter QHD market because their phones don’t need to have such a big resolution, but if they want to become a serious VR player, this will have to happen soon.
The biggest difference point in comparison to Gear VR is that Huawei VR will support “360-degree sound field”, with headphones of course. Samsung’s VR set doesn’t support this out-of-the-box but there are third-party solutions, like MilkVR. It will be interesting to see (or, better to say, to hear) how good this option will be and will the audio image really will be as wide as Huawei claims.
Availability And Price Of Huawei VR
Since Huawei VR kit had been revealed just yesterday, the price is still unknown. But if Gear VR costs just $99, we are certain that Huawei will put much lower price stamp on its new product. Something around $60-$70 sounds possible. Huawei VR should be available in a couple of months, the company’s latest flagship device, P9 was revealed just a couple of weeks ago and there is no need to offer VR kit right now. Especially because Huawei has big plans for VR content that’ll be released for the device. They plan to offer piles of movies, games, panoramic images, 360 videos and more as soon as VR kit gets released, and to do that in a proper way, they’ll probably need a couple of months to actually gather and produce that content.
It seems that soon, even more, smartphone manufacturers will offer some form of their own VR kits. Sony could make their VR kit compatible with their premium Xperia series, Apple will surely enter the market, but they will wait for technology to become future-proof and actually profitable, and Xiaomi, Lenovo, and others surely think about making the move into VR. If other manufacturers start following Samsung and Huawei, we could get a VR kit compatible with almost every model in the near future, and VR could finally enter the mainstream market.