This week’s VR headset updates keep coming with the latest being a leak suggesting Sony is working on a non-PSVR 2 virtual reality device.
Back to Sony though, and the latest reports indicate the Japanese firm wants to make a virtual reality device compatible with its Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 III flagship smartphones and boasts 8K VR experiences.
In a design that’s reminiscent of the Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR, users will be able to use their phones to engage with VR software, though for now we aren’t sure what plans Sony has for the kinds of games or experiences users will be able to enjoy.
Take these rumors with a pinch of salt, but the leaked images in this report are incredibly detailed and could well be official press shots, a strong indication this may in fact be real.
We’re interested to see what happens with this Sony Xperia-powered headset as right now we’re left scratching our heads for who it will appeal to.
Analysis: The Sony Xperia VR headset is doomed to fail
The headset will appeal to owners of the Sony Xperia 1 II and Xperia 1 III, however how many of those are out there?
The latest figures show that the biggest smartphone brands (such as Samsung, Google, Oppo and others) take up around 90% of the global market share – Sony competes with all other providers for a cut of that remaining 10%.
Sony’s most expensive flagships will make up only a fraction of its total sales, meaning the potential pool of users for a dedicated smartphone VR headset is incredibly small.
You might then think these VR efforts could be an attempt to bring people over to the Xperia platform and earn the Sony Xperia 1 III a spot as one of the best Android phones, but Sony’s efforts will most likely be in vain.
That’s because, as smartphones go, the Sony Xperia 1 III and its predecessor are simply overpriced. Sure it boasts an incredible battery life and display, but if you’re paying $1,299 / £1,199 (around AU$2,200) you’d expect something that’s leagues ahead of its cheaper rivals – but the Xperia 1 III simply isn’t.
A more savvy consumer could instead nab the OnePlus 9 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S21 (our picks for the number two and three best Android smartphones respectively) and the amazing Oculus Quest 2 headset, and still be leftover with plenty of cash to spare to buy titles from our best Oculus Quest games list.
Google Daydream already tried and failed to get folks interested in mobile-powered VR, and it had the advantage of being supported by a much wider range of smartphones.
Samsung – the smartphone brand with the highest global market share – also failed with its own VR efforts; support for the Samsung Gear VR and Samsung XR service was unceremoniously ended in the middle of 2020.
Based on all the evidence, the Sony Xperia-powered headset is a flop waiting to happen.
Even if the company somehow finds a way to leverage its gaming library – including God of War and The Last of Us – we just can’t see this being more than a curiosity. Just give us PSVR 2 on the PS5 instead.