What you need to know
- Chinese VR news company Vrtuoluo published (since deleted) leaked images of a prototype Samsung XR headset.
- Reportedly, this headset had several similarities to the Apple Vision Pro, but ran from an Exynos 2200 chipset.
- Samsung and Google are collaborating on an XR device, developing the hardware (Samsung) and the software (Google).
- A report from July claimed that Samsung abandoned this specific prototype after the unveiling of the Apple Vision Pro and was planning a new version to “better compete” with Apple.
Back in July, we learned that Samsung executives took a look at the Apple Vision Pro and decided to completely redesign their mixed-reality headset, focusing on performance, design and the display panel. Now, based on a leaked prototype of Samsung’s XR headset, we know why.
Chinese VR news site Vrtuoluo leaked images and specifications of the unnamed Samsung XR headset late last week. It later deleted the article, possibly due to a takedown request from Samsung; but we saw the images and information thanks to UploadVR and analyst Brad Lynch who covered the leak.
Reportedly, Samsung’s XR headset had an Exynos 2200 chipset, OLED micro-displays, dual RGB cameras and depth sensor for passthrough, internal eye-tracking cameras and no controllers (also relying on hand tracking, like the Vision Pro).
The prototype itself looks a lot like other standard VR headsets, although the final version might have looked more stylish and polished.
VR陀螺 released information about a Samsung XR HMD prototype that was once the basis of what they wanted to make to compete with Apple. It included:•Micro-OLED displays/Pancake optics•Exynos 2200 chip with AMD RDNA2 architecture•Inside Out tracking with dual RGB camera… pic.twitter.com/xTFV8uiSvz10 August 2023
While this lacks the stylish, modular design of the Vision Pro, it’s not fair to hold it against an in-house prototype. The bigger problem is that the unnamed Samsung XR headset relied on the Exynos 2200.
Samsung had high hopes for its homegrown 2022 flagship chip, but it had documented issues with lag, gaming, screen glitches and battery life, and its benchmarks fell far short of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (which itself had overheating and throttling issues). Samsung ended up switching entirely to Snapdragon chips for the S23 series.
Maybe Samsung had a surplus of unsold Exynos 2200s lying around, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to use them for its first foray back into virtual reality in half a decade! Weird battery life and performance lag are serious concerns for dedicated VR gaming headsets, let alone for XR devices that need to provide multiple cameras for eye tracking and higher resolution displays for passthrough.
The upcoming Meta Quest 3 XR headset will reportedly use a redesigned version of the powerful, efficient chip found in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It’s about as good as you could hope for in a $500 headset.
The problem is that it’s nowhere near the performance that Apple’s M2 chip in the Vision Pro (and most of its latest MacBook Pros) can deliver. If Samsung wants to offer a mixed-reality alternative to the Vision Pro that is more powerful (and more expensive) than the Quest 3, it would need to go beyond what mobile chipsets (Exynos) or Snapdragon) can deliver.
Perhaps Samsung could rely on an Intel chip like it did with the Galaxy Book 3 Ultra. Now that Samsung has abandoned its Exynos prototype, we’ll have to wait and see what it does next. But it’s fair to say that Samsung was right to try something new instead of using this headset (or something similar) to challenge the Vision Pro.
We know it’s working with Google to create mixed-reality software, but Google’s Senior Director of Engineering for XR software resigned last month, criticizing Google’s “flaky commitment” to the field. This could prove to be another hurdle for Samsung to overcome, along with the challenge of competing against Apple and Meta.
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