Consumers may have noticed there appears to be a growing number of Chinese VR headsets which are compatible with mobile phones. It is not hard to see why someone would think there is no difference between these products and the Google Cardboard. As it turns out, one cardboard-based VR headset is not worse than a decent-looking Chinese HMD unit.

Cheap Chinese HMDs Are Not The Best

One could argue the Google Cardboard isn’t much of a virtual reality headset in the first place. Considering the kit costs around US$5 to put together and use, one can’t honestly expect much for their money. Then again, the Google Cardboard has a track record of providing a decent entry-level VR experience to owners of decent and high-end smartphones.

Chinese manufacturers are trying to tackle the same market, yet the process is not as straightforward. While a lot of Chinese HMD units may look more premium compared to the Google Cardboard, they are absolutely terrible when it comes to the virtual reality experience itself. After all, it is the experience that matters, although a bit of comfort would be much appreciated as well.

Even when using a high-end smartphone with a Chinese “all-in-one” VR headset, the experience will not be all that pleasant. Units are often equipped with low-density lenses, which created an utterly horrible VR experience. Even though they cost more than the Google Cardboard, the US$5 kit is still your best bet for a cheap way to access mobile VR content right now.

Not all Chinese VR headsets are bad, mind you, but the vast majority simply isn’t worth the money. Some units have issues when it comes to properly securing your phone, which is a big problem. Additionally, this can make it virtually impossible to adjust the focus settings when the unit is in use. Light leakage is also a major issue affecting a lot of Chinese VR headsets. Last but not least, overheating issues will make for a very unpleasant and short-lived VR experience that could potentially cause long-term damage to your smartphone.

While the Google Cardboard is superior to most Chinese VR headsets, the product is not perfect by any means either. The first-gen design of the headset provides a far less fun experience compared to the current iteration. There is no padding or head strap either, which means manually controlling the device at all times is an absolute necessity. Light leakage is not uncommon either when using the headset, although that is far less prominent compared to some cheap Chinese models.

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