VR headsets for phones

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Virtual reality headsets for phones represent an inexpensive entry point into extended reality. As part of the investigation of how VR (and XR in general) can be cheaply and easily used in education, several VR headset for phones were tested. This article recaps the models that were tried.

Goals and objectives

  • Find several inexpensive alternatives in the VR headset arena.
  • Test them for their usefulness, quality, and general value.
  • Publish the results of the test so others can use our findings in their own decision-making process.

Headset models tested

We tested the headsets shown below. Here are some of the specifics of interest:

  • Each of these headsets required a cellphone be inserted to operate. The viewer can watch 3D and 360-degree videos on the phone.
  • All featured adjustable optics to best fit the needs of the viewer.
  • All were purchased through Amazon, ranging in price for $32 to $37, give or take.




  • There is a tray that slides out of the side of the headset to hold the phone. There is a spring-loaded clamp in the tray to prevent the phone from moving around.
  • $32

Check out the headset at Amazon.




  • A trapdoor opened on the front of the headset to insert the phone. There is a spring-loaded clamp in the trapdoor to hold the phone in place.
  • Includes headphones and a plug inside the phone compartment that can be plugged into phones with a 3.5 mm jack.
  • The controls on the optics are higher quality than the others.
  • $37

Check out the headset at Amazon.



Google Cardboard

  • Literally a sheet of stamped cardboard that is folded into a headset.
  • Inexpensive and effective, but hard to sanitize.
  • $6

Check out the headset at Amazon.



VR WEAR 3D VR Glasses

  • There is a trapdoor on the front of the headset for inserting the phone. The phone is held in place by friction when the door is closed. (Not great, the phone tends to fall out when the door is opened.)
  • The whole trapdoor mechanism feels frail on this one and did come off once during testing.
  • $33

Check out the headset at Amazon.

More information

Want more information on the McLAB or have an idea you would like to pursue? Contact Norb Thomes at (507) 457-5043 or nthomes@winona.edu.

Overview of the McLAB

Read the full overview of the Mobile Computing Laboratory project.

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