There is a massive VR industry that is taking the world by storm. VR headsets bring people to a different place, and for some, it is a world we wish existed. It provides an experience that is totally immersive, and allows people to play on a level of reality that is far beyond their current physical presence. But, what does this mean for the industry? What does it mean for you? You may be interested to know that in terms of the hardware, many people still believe that tethered headsets are the better option. But, when it comes to VR, who’s right? Can a mobile VR headset really meet the needs of the general audience?

As you may have noticed, we’re big fans of tethered VR headsets like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. They provide a more immersive experience than mobile VR devices like Gear VR and Daydream View that don’t require you to be tethered to a computer. However, the headsets are quite expensive. For example, the Oculus Rift retails for $600, the HTC Vive for $600 and the PlayStation VR for $400 (all prices are in US dollars) – and the prices are still going up. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are already on the expensive side of VR, but if you want a tethered headset you’ll have to spend $800+. Meanwhile, mobile VR is getting cheaper. The Google Day

2016: the year we finally get to see VR technology take off. The Oculus Go, announced in January, is the first official VR headset to use an ARM-based Snapdragon 835 processor, and it’s a big step up for the category. The Samsung Gear VR isn’t the only tethered VR headset around, but it’s one of the most popular – and it has a battery lifespan of around 1.5 hours. On the other hand, the Google Daydream View, released in November, uses an OLED display and a Snapdragon 821 processor and lasts around 5 hours on a single charge.

If you’ve ever experienced virtual reality, you know it’s a completely different experience. However, as amazing as VR has gotten, it may still be difficult to set up, particularly with the variety of hardware options and solutions available today.

In this post, we’ll compare mobile VR headsets versus tethered VR headsets to see whether there’s a difference and which one you should choose.

Also see: How to tell whether your computer is VR-ready. 

In the sense that they rely on your phone to power the whole VR experience, mobile VR headsets live true to their name. They typically have a simple design and a limited feature set. The Google Cardboard is one of the finest examples of a mobile VR headset.

A few more costly mobile headsets have tracking sensors, controls, and focus wheels built in to improve the experience, but they’re still largely reliant on your phone. Also, if you intend to utilize them with your PC, you’ll very certainly need to install third-party software to make everything work.

VR headsets with a tether, on the other hand, come with everything you need to get started with a top-of-the-line VR experience. You’ve got tracking sensors and built-in high-resolution displays, with a high refresh rate on occasion. They’re also more comfortable to wear and feature a connection for connecting to your computer or console.

Tethered headsets also produce less motion sickness when in use since they offer a better display quality, which makes the entire experience more natural. 

Here, tethered headsets come out on top by a long shot. VR headsets for mobile phones, as previously said, depend on your phone to provide the VR experience. If you don’t have a phone that can handle VR, you’re in for a disappointing VR experience. 

You can get around the problem by using higher-quality headset lenses, but the fundamental issue remains. They’re also less pleasant to use than tethered headsets, particularly for extended periods of time.

Mobile vs Tethered VR headsets | The VR experience is significantly better with tethered headsets.

Tethered headsets are designed specifically for providing the best possible VR experience and therefore contain the necessary hardware. They also include many lens location customization options, enabling users to tailor the headset to their preferences. 

The entire experience is considerably better, owing to the high-quality displays within the headset, since the headsets don’t depend on a phone.

A mobile VR headset is all you need to view the odd VR film, whether you’re at home or on the road. If you want anything different than that, you’ll have to pay a premium for a tethered one.

SteamVR and RiftCat, a third-party software, may be used to play games on a mobile VR headset. However, you’ll have to go through a lengthy setup procedure to make sure everything works properly. Other problems, such as gyro shifting and a general lack of quality, are also conceivable.

In most cases, tethered headsets are utilized for VR gaming. You can do pretty much anything with them once they’re linked to your PC or console. 

However, the greatest disadvantage is that you can’t truly use them everywhere. You’ll need a suitable setup, as well as a designated VR space where you can be confident you won’t bump into anything while in-game if your game demands movement. 

Also see our list of the best free VR games.

To use a mobile VR headset, you’ll need a smartphone that supports VR. This implies your phone should have a built-in gyroscope, which isn’t a problem on most contemporary phones, regardless of price. 

You will still have to navigate to and from the video before sliding your phone inside the headset. If you’re looking to play games on your PC or phone in VR, you might also need to buy a separate controller. 

Mobile vs Tethered VR headsets | To use tethered VR headsets, you’ll need a good enough computer setup.

Tethered headsets, on the other hand, require a significant amount of computing power to function correctly. To run your games properly, you’ll need a good CPU, at least 16GB of RAM, and a dedicated GPU. Before settling on a VR headset, be sure you have a strong enough PC.

You’ll get slow VR performance if your PC isn’t strong enough, which may spoil the experience and cause motion sickness.

For obvious reasons, mobile VR headsets are considerably less expensive than their tethered equivalents. They’re less expensive to produce and don’t need any built-in displays or sensors, as well as high-quality lenses. As a consequence, entry-level mobile VR headsets are now available for as little as $10. 

Several higher-end mobile headsets may cost upwards of $200. While the price may seem expensive, these headsets come with a slew of extra features that significantly improve the user experience. 

Because of the internal components required, tethered headsets are much more expensive. The cheapest tethered headsets cost about $300. Don’t be shocked if some of the top-of-the-line ones cost $1000 or more. These headsets also come with a hefty hidden cost: a strong enough computer. 

Here’s a short overview of the benefits and drawbacks of each VR headset.

  Mobile VR headsets Tethered VR headsets
Features Minimal features reliant on smartphones Completely self-sufficient Possess a comprehensive VR feature set
Uses It’s ideal for viewing virtual reality content on the move. 360-degree videos of VR games
Hardware is required. A smartphone having a gyroscope. A high-end computer with at least 16GB of RAM and a dedicated GPU is required.
Price Obtaining them is often inexpensive. The starting price is about $10. Mobile VR headsets are much more costly. It’s possible to spend $1000 or more.

If you’re willing to spend the money, a tethered VR headset is the way to go. Yes, you may need to update your PC in order for the headset to function, but the VR experience that results is well worth the money. 

A mobile VR headset is great for watching VR videos or playing tiny phone games, but if you want to use it for gaming, you’ll have to wade through a sea of problems to get everything to work. 

Also see: Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR) (AR)


When he’s not writing/editing/shooting/hosting all things tech, he streams himself racing virtual automobiles. Yadullah may be reached at [email protected], or you can follow him on Instagram or Twitter.

There is a war going on between the iPhone and Google riders right now, with BB and Samsung getting involved as well. It all started when Google announced their Daydream platform at the I/O conference, which is the replacement for Cardboard. Daydream is a tethered headset, and it will use the integrated Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile processor, which can also be found in the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8.. Read more about types of vr headsets and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are phone VR headsets worth it?

Yes, they are worth it.

What is tethered VR headset?

A tethered VR headset is a VR headset that has to be connected to a computer or console in order for it to work.

Why is phone VR so bad?

The technology behind phone VR is not as advanced as PC VR.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • vr headset price
  • oculus rift
  • types of vr headsets
  • htc vive
  • bluetooth vr headset
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