New Gear VR Controller Feels Like the Future

When you're walking around in a computer generated world, it's not enough to have just your eyes and your ears, you want to be able to reach out and touch things too. And a clunky, old-fashioned gamepad doesn't count.

That's why Samsung created a new controller for use with its Gear VR headset.

The Gear VR Controller (yes, that's its official name) is a logical next step for Samsung's mobile VR platform. It draws inspiration from the desktop-based Oculus Rift's two controllers, borrowing the general shape and size of the Oculus Remote, and adding on features like a larger touchpad and rear-mounted trigger button from the Rift's Touch Controller.

While Samsung initially only teased the Gear VR controller during its MWC press conference this week, we got a chance to put our hands on a pre-production unit during the show.

Despite its lightness, the Gear VR Controller feels totally solid, and its rear trigger is perfectly positioned so that your index finger naturally finds it when you pick up the controller. In addition to the large circular touchpad, the controller also has two navigation buttons for helping you get around menus plus a handy volume rocker.

The controller is powered by a simple AAA batteries, which Samsung says should last for about a month, and it connects to your phone over Bluetooth. Currently, the Gear VR controller is only intended to be used one at a time, although in the future, it may be possible for two controllers to be used simultaneously, as you would with the Oculus Rift's Touch controllers.  

While Samsung hasn't revealed any specific price or availability information, the company did say that there are already more than 70 games that will have support for the Gear VR controller, and that it will come included with the next version of its Gear VR headset.

It's a good bet that we'll find out even more about the Gear VR controllers at Samsung's Unpacked Event on March 29, which is when the company will officially unveil its long-awaited flagship phone, the Galaxy S8.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).