Most people were duly caught off guard by the announcement of a refreshed Gear VR made for the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge here at MWC 2015. Although it was quickly announced as a footnote to the bigger news of the phones themselves, there are some very important changes in this latest version of Gear VR.
The best way to describe this new Gear VR is "refined" when comparing to the original for the Note 4. The headset is 15 percent smaller, they say, but ergonomics have changed a bit to make it feel lighter and more comfortable as well. The headset straps are curved down so that they wrap around a lower part of your head for counterbalancing, and the lighter Galaxy S6 (or S6 edge) inside means the whole thing isn't so burdensome on your face. There are also a few purely cosmetic changes, in the form of small material differences and the removal of the bulky frosted plastic phone guard on the front — your Galaxy S6 will be shown off to the world when you're using Gear VR now.
This Gear VR also supports the ability to play longer, with the inclusion of a USB port on the bottom that acts as passthrough to the phone to keep it from discharging (but it won't necessarily add any charge considering the drain). Just as important there's also a new (completely silent) fan on the left side of the headset that keeps the entire unit cooler, hopefully reducing chances of overheating on the phone and fogging up of the lenses. The touchpad and button on the right side have also been tweaked, with an easily-felt recessed touchpad and more tactile back button.
After spending a few minutes playing around with some games and videos on the new Gear VR I can't say I noticed a huge difference in functionality, but the roughly 10 percent higher pixel density did help the experience. Even Oculus says this model is meant to be roughly on par with what you get from the larger first generation, and that's probably important — Oculus and Samsung don't want those who did spring for the original with the Note 4 to be feeling left out, and with this they won't be.
This is still very much an "Innovator Edition" and not really meant for your average Galaxy S6 owner to pick up and use regularly, but those who do will be getting an improved unit with fewer functional issues.