​Samsung's new Gear VR controller looks like just the thing Gear needs (hands-on)

Here's how Samsung's mobile VR controller looks and feels.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Scott Stein
Jessica Dolcourt
2 min read

Samsung's Gear VR is the most popular VR platform, and it's long been one of CNET's favorites. But to control things, you needed to use a giant touchpad on your head. A new Gear VR controller should finally let the Samsung-Oculus codeveloped platform work more like Google's Daydream View. It's not the same as high-end VR controllers, but it could be the magic wand that Gear VR sorely needed.

Update, March 29: The new Gear VR Controller is officially arriving April 21 for $40 (roughly £32 or AU$52), or in a package set with the latest Gear VR headset for $130 (roughly £104 or AU$170.) Read more about Samsung's latest VR offerings here.

The new wireless Gear VR controller can point and move like Google's Wii remote-like Daydream View remote does, but has a larger set of buttons: dedicated volume plus two more buttons on the top, and a trigger underneath the circular clickable touchpad. It looks a little like a mini version of HTC's Vive controller.


A fair number of buttons and a comfy size.


At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we briefly tried holding one for size. It's pretty small and light and palm-sized, and easy enough to find the buttons with our eyes closed. But we didn't get to try any demos with it, so actual VR performance is still an unknown. The touchpad clicked nicely, and the buttons all felt well-placed.

It's up to Oculus and developers to see how the controller will end up changing VR experiences. Oculus says 70+ titles are already in development, and all of the existing touchpad-capable apps in the mobile store will be compatible. Gear VR currently has 550+ existing Gear VR apps that will work at launch, not with full motion controls -- they'll just take advantage of the Gear VR's touchpad.


A hand remote for Gear VR, finally.


A new Gear VR headset will arrive alongside the controller, but the controller will work with older Gear VR models, too. The new Gear VR goggles don't seem fundamentally different from the Gear VR released in 2016: it connects with USB-C and Micro-USB Samsung phones going back to the Galaxy Note 5, S6 and S6 Edge, and looks like it will be launched alongside the upcoming Galaxy S8.

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