6 Best VR Headsets Under $50

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Buying a Virtual Reality (VR) headset can be a frustrating experience. There are numerous options on the market, each one with unique features and functionalities. Companies launch new models every year which makes choosing a model even more difficult.

We understand it’s not easy to shop for VR headsets. That’s why we decided to create this guide with the best VR headsets for under $50. We researched dozens of models in-depth so people don’t need to waste their time reading individual product reviews.

We curated this list with a simple criterion: all products must have a price limit of $50. No fancy and expensive models, such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. We only included accessible VR headsets users can pair with their smartphones.

Budget
best-budget-vr-headset-under-50
Google Cardboard
3.8/5.0
Weight: 3.4 ounces
Size: 5.9 x 2.2 x 3.5 in
Extremely lightweight, user gets to build it as a DIY project.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-vr-headset-under-50
Pansonite 3D VR Headset
4.4/5.0
Weight: 10.5 ounces
Size: 8.3 x 5.5 x 4.3 in
Lenses with wide viewing angle create immersive experience.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-vr-headset-under-50
Google Daydream View
4.6/5.0
Weight: 9.2 ounces
Size: 6.6 x 4.2 x 3.8 in
Exclusive apps and games not available with other VR headsets.
Check Amazon

Introduction to VR Headsets

Science fiction books and movies introduced the idea of virtual reality. It has gone from science fiction to reality in a few short years. VR systems are extremely popular thanks to the efforts of large tech companies such as Oculus and HTC. Their headsets offer fully immersive 3D experiences such as movies, games and real-life simulations.

VR systems allow you to explore alternative realities by simply moving your head. Several sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes track your movements to recreate them in the virtual simulation. You can connect VR goggles and headsets to consoles, PCs and other gaming devices, and play so realistically that you sometimes forget it’s a game.

Unsurprisingly, VR headsets are expensive. The cost varies from model to model, but they all start somewhere around $500. These systems include lenses, screens, and controllers that allow the user to dive into a simulated world. However, tech companies are now offering a new alternative to these high-power and expensive VR systems: simple VR headsets connected to a smartphone.

Low-Cost Smartphone Containers

Not everyone can afford an expensive VR system. Some people have no interest in them at all. But many others are fascinated with the idea of getting their feet wet with virtual reality first by using their smartphones.

Tech giants such as Google and Samsung sell their own mobile versions of VR headsets. There are some key differences between these and the traditional, high-powered ones. Mobile VR headsets use a smartphone as both the console and the screen, with a pair of lenses to recreate the depth and perspective of a 360 immersive reality.

Some mobile VR headsets offer extra features, such as wireless controllers or headphones. But they all have something in common: they use the smartphone’s resources and apps. People who use their phone to play games or watch movies can do it in Virtual Reality thanks to these cheap and mobile devices.

How to choose the best VR headset

When comparing the different features and functionalities of each VR headset, choosing the right one isn’t obvious. There are numerous factors that users need to take into account. To begin with, the VR headset each person chooses needs to be compatible with their smartphone.

Another important variable that users need to consider is whether or not the VR headset includes a wireless controller. This will determine the functionality of the system. VR headsets without a controller can be used to watch movies but not play games. Some VR controllers are sold independently, but they aren’t as well calibrated as those included with headsets.

The size, weight, and material of the headset determine how comfortable it is and how long it can be used. If a headset is too large or heavy, the user will most likely not be able to watch an entire 2-hour long movie with it.

The final factor to consider is the brand and cost of the VR headset. Because we are only taking into account models that cost up to $50, it may feel like buying any one of these products isn’t too much of an investment. However, well-established brands should be favored over their lesser-known competitors. The former are often of better quality, even if the latter offer extravagant features.

VR Headsets Under $50 Comparison Table

Make and ModelRatingFeaturesSizeWeightBatteries requiredRemote Controller IncludedCompatibilityPrice
Google Daydream View4.6Made from soft fabric, 90-degree field of view, wireless connection, Daydream Android app6.6 x 4.2 x 3.8 in9.2 ounces22 Lithium metal batteries, includedYesDaydream-Ready Android SmartphonesCheck Price
Google Cardboard3.8Made from cardboard, 90-degree field of view, Cardboard Android/iPhone app5.9 x 2.2 x 3.5 in3.4 ouncesNoNoAll 4’’ to 6’’ iPhones and Android SmartphonesCheck Price
Pansonite 3D VR Headset4.4Leather and sponge padding, T-shape straps, Bluetooth wireless connection, 110-degree field of view, Easy-to-focus lenses8.3 x 5.5 x 4.3 in10.5 ounces2 AAA batteries, not includedYesAll 4.7’’ to 6.0’’ iPhones and Andriod SmartphonesCheck Price
Samsung Gear VR4.3Foam padding, T-shape straps, USB-C connection, 101-degree field of view, Touchpad and buttons on the headset9.3 x 4.1 x 6.7 in10.4 ounces1 Lithium-ion battery, not includedNoSamsung Galaxy and Note SmartphonesCheck Price
Merge VR Goggles4.0Made from flexible foam, T-shape straps, 96-degree field of view, Two spring-like buttons5.5 x 7.5 x 4 in12 ouncesNoNoAll 4.8’’ to 6.2’’ iPhones and Android SmartphonesCheck Price
Topmaxions 3D VR Glasses3.9Made from plastic, 90-degree field of view7.6 x 6 x 4.5 in7 ouncesNoNoAll 3.5’’ to 6.0’’ iPhones and Android SmartphonesCheck Price

The Best Low-Cost VR Headset

There are several factors that every user should take into account before buying a low-cost VR headset: compatibility, comfort, functionality, cost. We selected three models that stand out.

People who are willing to spend some money on a top-quality headset should look into the Google Daydream View. It is a powerful product with various interesting features, but it is only compatible with a few Android smartphones.

Users who want more features and more comfort should consider the Pansonite 3D VR headset. It includes a remote controller and several unique functionalities among low-cost VR headsets. However, it doesn’t provide its own apps and games. Other alternatives in the same price range are the Samsung Gear VR and the Merge VR Goggles.

On the cheaper side of the spectrum, Google Cardboard is a great first approach to virtual reality. It is a DIY project for users to build their own VR headsets. But it is an uncomfortable model that can’t be used for more than a few minutes. People looking for more comfortable products within that same price range can buy the Topmaxions 3D VR Glasses.

1. Best Pick: Google Daydream View

Google Daydream ViewView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

Google’s Daydream View headset is the best virtual reality accessory released by Google. Although it was originally priced at $100, certain retailers sell it for much less. It is possible to find Google Daydream View headsets for about $45.

This headset is made of a soft, breathable fabric that feels good on the user’s face. It has two straps that go around the sides of your head. The straps aren’t particularly comfortable but they secure the headset in place.

Like other low-cost headsets, the Daydream is quite lightweight, so the weight of the smartphone is noticeable. This can put pressure on your forehead, temples, and neck, and can become uncomfortable after more than 30 minutes of use.

The Daydream includes a minimalist point-and-click controller. It allows the user to control menus and apps and can be used for certain games. This controller doesn’t have positional tracking, so it can only be used for relative motions – unlike the controllers of the Oculus Rift, for example. However, it is still a useful accessory when watching movies, wandering on Google Street View, and playing games.

The image quality of the Google Daydream View is outstanding, but it is compatible with just a few smartphones. Although users can use Daydream with a vast choice of apps and games, including ‘YouTube VR’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them VR’, only the following Android phones are fully compatible:

  • Asus ZenFone AR
  • Google Pixel / Google Pixel XL
  • Google Pixel 2 / Google Pixel 2 XL
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
  • Huawei Porsche Design Mate 9
  • Motorola Moto Z
  • Motorola Moto Z 2 Force
  • Motorola Moto Z
  • Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • ZTE Axon 7

The Dreamview is the best performing cheap VR headset because it uses the Dreamview app, only available on the smartphones listed above. The collection of apps and games is ever-growing. Google works constantly to improve and expand the apps available for this headset. The performance downsize is that the Dreamview can experience lag and drain the phone’s battery quicker than other cheaper VR headsets.

Overall, the Google Daydream View is the best low-cost VR headset on the market. It includes a compact controller for remote usability and feels comfortable yet secured. The variety of apps and games make it a much better option than its competitors, though the lack of compatibility with iPhones and several Android smartphones restrict its success. It doesn’t compare with high-end VR models, but it provides maximum value for the price.

amazon

Tech Specs
Features: Made from soft fabric, 90-degree field of view, wireless connection, Daydream Android app
Size: 6.6 x 4.2 x 3.8 in
Weight: 9.2 ounces
Batteries: Included
Controller: Included
Compatibility: Daydream-Ready Android Phones
The Pros
Comfortable material
Includes remote controller
Exclusive apps and games not available with other VR headsets
Outstanding image quality
The Cons
Straps become uncomfortable after more than 30 minutes of use
Compatibility limited to few Daydream-Ready Android phones

2. Best Budget: Google Cardboard

Google CardboardView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.8/5

The design of every low-cost VR headset consists of a smartphone container with two lenses. That’s why Google decided to create a simple and extremely cheap model: the Google Cardboard. This fun and easy-to-use VR headset only costs around $15.

The Google Cardboard is unlike any other VR headset in that it is a DIY project. The user has to put the product together before actually using it. The building process adds an extra layer of fun to this headset. This makes the Cardboard a unique model.

Not surprisingly, the Google Cardboard is made from cardboard but it also includes lenses, magnets, velcro, and a rubber band to hold the phone in place. The overall product is rather rough. Plus, it isn’t water-resistant.

This model doesn’t have any straps to hold it to your head. You need to hold it with your hands. Some users choose to add a homemade strap to the Cardboard, but this is not a part of the original design of the product and the materials for the strap are not included.

The Cardboard doesn’t include any remote controllers. It has one single button that allows for basic interactions with the phone. Users can navigate through menus and play some basic games with the cardboard.

The Google Cardboard is compatible with all smartphones. Because it is a product developed by Google, this headset works best with Android smartphones, but it is possible to connect it to an iPhone.

Regarding performance, the speed and resolution will vary from one phone to the other. Users need to download the Cardboard app before trying any of the over 30 apps compatible with this VR headset. Some of these apps are Google Earth, Google Arts, and Photo Sphere.

In summary, the Google Cardboard is a cheap and fun VR headset that users get to build with their own hands. Although its quality is certainly lower than other models, the Cardboard is a great product for kids or adults looking for a first approach in the world of Virtual Reality. For just about $15 people can get their own VR system to watch a few YouTube videos or play games in a different, fashionable way.

amazon

Tech Specs
Features: Made from cardboard, 90-degree field of view, Cardboard Android/iPhone app
Size: 5.9 x 2.2 x 3.5 in
Weight: 3.4 ounces
Batteries: No
Controller: No
Compatibility: iPhone and Android
The Pros
Low price
Extremely lightweight
User gets to build it as a DIY project
Numerous apps on the Cardboard app
Compatible with most smartphones
The Cons
Not suitable to use more than a few minutes at a time
Low quality

3. Best Value: Pansonite 3D VR Headset

Pansonite 3D VR HeadsetView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

Pansonite is not the most well-known tech company in the world but the Pansonite 3D VR headset stands out as one of the most complete and valuable budget models. With a cost of less than $40, this product is perfect for users looking for balance between quality and functionality.

The Pansonite 3D VR headset has leather and sponge padding that allows people to use it for long periods of time. It is made from resistant resin and plastic but feels very lightweight. This model has a comfortable ergonomic design with a T-shape strap that users can adjust to their head sizes.

This headset has some unique features when compared with other low-cost VR systems. The deepened nasal bridge gives you room to breathe comfortably and the heat dissipation mode prevents the appearance of fog. It is powered by 4 AAA batteries or by connecting the product to a wall power source.

The Pansonite 3D VR headset includes an intelligent remote control similar to a Super Nintendo controller. It is the only low-cost headset with this feature, making it ideal for users looking to play mobile games with a console-like controller.

This model is compatible with all iPhones and Android smartphones with screens up to 6.0’’. Some models may experience compatibility issues for gaming, particularly iPhones. Such issues are irrelevant when users watch movies or use apps other than games.

When it comes to performance, the Pansonite 3D VR headset includes easy-to-focus lenses with adjustable pupil distance and focal distance. Although the image quality depends on the resolution of the smartphone, these high-definition lenses produce impeccable 3D aspheric imaging.

The apps available for the Pansonite 3D VR include all the ones compatible with the Cardboard app. This headset can also be used to watch 3D movies and videos from YouTube and other video apps.

To sum up, the Pansonite 3D VR has several features that make it a great option when it comes to VR gaming with smartphones. It is comfortable and can be used for long periods of time. This model has excellent lenses that create great 3D effects and allow for an immersive experience. Although Pansonite doesn’t have the same prestige as Google or Samsung, users should consider this product as a top choice for low-cost VR headset. It is a particularly good product for iPhone users.

amazon

Tech Specs
Features: Leather and sponge padding, T-shape straps, Bluetooth wireless connection, 110-degree field of view, Easy-to-focus lenses
Size: 8.3 x 5.5 x 4.3 in
Weight: 10.5 ounces
Batteries: Not included
Controller: Included
Compatibility: iPhone and Android
The Pros
Extremely comfortable
Can be used for long periods of time
Aspherical lenses with wide viewing angle create immersive experience
Console-like remote control is great for VR gaming
The Cons
Controller not compatible with certain iPhones
Uses apps that aren’t designed specifically for this product

4. Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VRView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

The Samsung Gear VR is one of the most popular headsets on the market. Co-created by two tech giants, Samsung and Oculus, this is a high-quality product that works exclusively with Samsung smartphones. The most recent model costs about $100. It is possible to find certain previous versions of this excellent VR system for around $30.

The Samsung Gear VR is the best looking of all the low-cost VR headsets. It has a smooth foam that feels great on your face and it can be used for hours without leaving any marks. The T-shaped head strap is extremely comfortable and easy to adjust for different head sizes.

This model has a wide 101-degree field of view. However, the edges of the device allow light to seep in. This problem can disrupt the immersive experience, particularly in broad daylight. Samsung has chosen comfort over image quality so that users can use this headset for hours even if the simulated experience isn’t as genuine as it could be.

The Samsung Gear VR doesn’t include a remote controller, although users can buy one separately. There are several buttons on the headset, including a touchpad, a ‘Home’ button, a ‘Back’ button, and volume control buttons.

Smartphones connect to the Samsung Gear VR via a USB-C cable. Most phones don’t have this type of connector, so users might need to buy an adaptor.

Because the Gear VR is co-created by Samsung and Oculus, this headset has a wide variety of apps and games. Since it works exclusively with Samsung smartphones, users can download apps from the Play Store or from the Oculus Store.

Overall, the Samsung Gear VR remains one of the best headsets in the market. It is a comfortable product that creates an immersive experience and can be used for long periods of time. As new models of the Gear VR come out every year, it’s possible to buy previous models for lower prices.

amazon

Tech Specs
Features: Foam padding, T-shape straps, USB-C connection, 101-degree field of view, Touchpad and buttons on the headset
Size: 9.3 x 4.1 x 6.7 in
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Batteries: Not included
Controller: No
Compatibility: Samsung Smartphones
The Pros
Extremely comfortable
Can be used for long periods of time
Compatible with Play Store and Oculus Store apps
The Cons
Only compatible with Samsung Galaxy and Note smartphones
Light entering from the edges can disrupt the immersive effect

5. Merge VR Goggles

Merge VR GogglesView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4/5

The Merge VR Goggles are a great choice for families with kids. This headset is intuitive and easy to use, without sacrificing image quality. The Merge VR Goggles sell for about $30, which makes them a mid-range product among low-cost VR systems.

The VR Goggles are made of flexible foam. They are extremely comfortable, but also durable and resistant to drops. This is a kid-oriented product so it is available in different bright colors, unlike the other headsets which come only in black, white, or grey.

This headset has adjustable lenses designed to fit every face, from adults to young children. It is also equipped with two built-in spring-like buttons, so users can interact with the smartphone without the need of an external controller.

The Merge VR Goggles are compatible with most iPhones and Android phones. They can be used to play over 300 mini-games and apps available in the Merge Miniverse Portal.

In sum, this headset is ideal for families with children. Users can watch 3D movies as well as play numerous games. The Merge VR Goggles were named by CNN as Best VR Headset for Big Kids and Teens. Adults may find this product childish and lacking features, particularly when compared to other products in a similar price range such as the Pansonite 3D VR headset.

amazon

Tech Specs
Features: Made from flexible foam, T-shape straps, 96-degree field of view, Two spring-like buttons
Size: 5.5 x 7.5 x 4 in
Weight: 12 ounces
Batteries: No
Controller: No
Compatibility: iPhone and Android
The Pros
Durable and resistant
Ideal for children
Access to over 300 mini-games and educational apps
The Cons
Limited functions
Straps get uncomfortable after more than 30 minutes of use

6. Topmaxions 3D VR Glasses

Topmaxions 3D VR GlassesView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 3.9/5

The Topmaxions 3D VR Glasses are simple yet elegant. With a surprisingly low price of about $16, this is one of the cheapest VR headsets on the market. But it doesn’t look or feel like it’s cheap.

The Topmaxions’ design consists of a plastic body, leather around the eyes and a headband that make it lightweight and comfortable. This headset is one of a handful that uses suction cups to keep the phone in place. The outer cover can be removed to reveal the phone’s camera when using apps that include Augmented Reality.

This product is compatible with all iPhones and Android smartphones smaller than 6.0’’. The Topmaxions is great for watching movies or videos, but it doesn’t include a remote controller and it isn’t equipped with buttons, so it isn’t really suitable for games.

The Topmaxions 3D VR Glasses are a more comfortable alternative to the Google Cardboard at approximately the same price. It is a great model for both adults and kids trying to experience virtual reality for the first time.

amazon

Tech Specs
Features: Made from plastic, 90-degree field of view
Size: 7.6 x 6 x 4.5 in
Weight: 7 ounces
Batteries: No
Controller: No
Compatibility: iPhone and Android
The Pros
Low price
Lightweight
Compatible with most smartphones
The Cons
Low quality
Limited functions
No external buttons
0/50 ratings