When it comes to technology, virtual reality is certainly looking to be one of the defining features of our generation. Virtual reality in both gaming and simulation offers so much to people who want an even more immersive experience.
There is nothing more immersive than being thrown headfirst into a gunfight, a flight simulator, or a zombie apocalypse after all! However, virtual reality doesn’t come without its costs in the most literal sense of the word.
VR headsets can be incredibly pricey and you might find yourself spending months or even years putting away your pennies just to be able to afford one.
Once you have the headset, the costs don’t stop there as you then have to pay for the games of course.
The whole VR experience may be an exciting one, but it is also one that is likely to have you rummaging around down your couch cushions or smashing open your piggy banks just to afford the absolute basics!
It may be a super pricey hobby, but that doesn’t mean that have to go without it.
We are here to have a look at some of the cheaper options on the market when it comes to VR headsets that can give you that awesome experience of virtual reality without completely emptying your bank account.
All of these options are available for less than $50, so with that in mind let’s get started!
OUR TOP PICK
As with the other entries on this list, the VR headsets that we are going to be looking at are compatible with Android phones and iPhones. You slip your phone into the headset to turn it into a virtual reality gaming device.
The BNEXT Virtual Reality goggles are an awesome option when it comes to VR headsets that are under $50 but still offer tons of fun.
The BNEXT headset lets you turn your phone into a virtual reality experience, allowing you to play games or watch movies within your own VR world.
This particular headset works with both Android phones and iPhones and has a decently sized screen- measuring 4 inches by 6.3 inches- to fully pull you into the virtual world.
The BNEXT headset also allows for a 360-degree view, further emphasizing the immersive experience that it offers.
The BNEXT is incredibly versatile as it is compatible with a wide variety of smartphone models.
The compatible models are as follows: iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 9, iPhone 9 Plus, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone SE.
As well as this compatibility with the Apple iPhone, the BNEXT is also compatible with the following Samsung Android models: Galaxy Note 20, S20, One Plus. It is also compatible with the Google Pixel phone. So to sum it up, that is a lot of compatible devices!
You are sure to find something that you can utilize with the BNEXT headset to turn your device into an immersive VR experience.
This is all well and good of course but it can be difficult to have fun if you’re uncomfortable whilst you are playing.
Thankfully, this isn’t an issue that you have to worry about with the BNEXT headset as it is sure to offer an enjoyably and comforting experience thanks to the fully adjustable head strap alongside the soft nose piece- designed to reduce any pressure - and the eyesight protection.
The headset also has an abundance of foam padding that is sure to keep you feeling super comfy and cozy whilst you play.
As well as the comfort side, the headset also offers the best technology to protect your eyes whilst you enjoy your VR experience.
This is thanks to the adjustments that can be to the OD and FR settings (relating to the field of view) which lets the user find the perfect setting for their eyes as well as find the image that looks the sharpest and the most vibrant for your eyesight.
Everyone is different when it comes to eyesight and so this is a great customizable feature as it is inclusive of people whose eyesight might not be as good as others.
There is also a nifty online feature available with the BNXT. Special VR content- including virtual reality experiences and games- can be downloaded with this headset/viewer.
There are tons of virtual reality apps that the viewer is compatible with as well, so you are pretty spoiled for content when it comes to this headset choice.
- Compatible with a wide range of smartphones.
- Offers free online VR content.
- Padded for comfort.
- Adjustable settings to get the best experience for your eyes.
- No electricity is needed! Just insert your phone and you are ready to go.
- No separate controller for games.
This next option is only suitable if you own the portable Nintendo Switch console as the VR element revolves around bringing the virtual reality experience to the Switch.
This headset is a great addition to your Switch setup and is sure to elevate your gameplay experience to the next level!
The OIVO is super lightweight and durable, which is always handy for a virtual reality headset as they can be prone to breakage if the player gets a little too immersed in the experience!
The safe hook and loop design adds an extra layer of protection to keep both your Nintendo Switch and your games safe whilst you play with the VR headset.
The headset may be sturdy but it is far from uncomfortable when you are wearing it thanks to the adjustable head strap and padding.
It has an ergonomic design, intended to keep everything in place whilst staying comfortable and practical, with features such as type C port holds and heat dissipation to avoid any issues with overheating.
When it comes to the joy-cons (the two mini controllers that are usually attached to the side of the Switch), you can’t keep them on the console due to the sizing but this is for the best in terms of both comfort and playability as it means that you don’t have to be in an uncomfortable position with your hands up around your eyes whilst you play!!
When attached to the handset, you get a full range of motion with the joy-cons so you don’t have to worry about losing power to the control system whilst wearing the headset.
When it comes to what you can actually do with your Switch in regards to this virtual reality headset, it’s not just about gaming (although that is a big part of it!) as you can also use it to enhance your viewing experience on the YouTube app on the Switch.
The headset allows for HD optimization of both games and videos, giving you a choice when it comes to how you want to utilize the VR headset.
No matter how you choose to use the OIVO with your Nintendo Switch, it is sure to make a difference to your virtual reality experience whether it is playing Super Smash Brothers or watching your favorite YouTuber!
- Ergonomic design that makes for comfortable use.
- High definition quality.
- Gives you the ability to both play games and watch videos within virtual reality.
- Adjustable straps for even more comfort.
- The focal point is not adjustable, which might make the headset difficult to use for those with sight issues or those who need particular adjustments to the screen.
Another headset that is intended for use with smartphones, the Newnaivete VR headset is another fantastic option if you want to enter a virtual world- via your phone- at an affordable price.
The Newnaivete works with a wide variety of VR apps and is super easy to set up and get started.
All you have to do is download whichever app takes your fancy (make sure it’s compatible first!), place your smartphone into the headset and you are ready to go.
This headset is also one that allows for customization of the FD and OD settings, letting you set up the screen completely to your specific needs.
This feature also minimizes distortion and lets you match the focal distance to get the absolute best out of your viewing and/ or playing experiences.
This is certainly one of the more admirable features of these VR headsets as it allows each person to customize the screen depending on their needs.
If you have poor eyesight, you don’t have to worry about this headset being inaccessible. You can enjoy the experience of virtual reality just as much as everyone else!
The screen is made from an HD resin aspherical lens with a 40mm diameter, making it well-sized for usage by an adult or a child.
The field of view is between 90 and 100 degrees as well, giving you a perfect panoramic view that works great with movies or gaming.
There are so many smartphones that are compatible with the Newnaivete headset, making it significantly more accessible.
Let’s go through the kinds of smartphones that you will be able to use with the Newnaivete.
When it comes to the Apple iPhone, the following are compatible: iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, 13 Max, iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Max, iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 11 XS Max, XR, XXS, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPhone 7, and iPhone 8.
As you can see, several of the older models of the iPhone are compatible with the headset which is another great way that the Newnaivete is accessible no matter what kind of phone you have access to.
When it comes to Samsung phones, the compatible models include the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, the S10, the S10 Plus, the S9, the S8, the S7, the S7 Edge, the S6, the S6 Edge, the S5 the Galaxy Note 5, the Note 4 and the Note 3.
Again, this is a huge variety of smartphones, both in terms of model and age, so you are sure to find something that you can use this VR headset with.
The sizing of the headset is 4.7 inches by 6.53 inches, which is usual for a smartphone so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a phone to fit into the eyepiece (though you might need to take any bulky phone cases off first).
Even models other than the smartphone giants that are Apple and Samsung can be used with this headset, such as the Google Pixel phone, Motorola phones, Nexus, and LG phones.
As long as the smartphone you want to use has the gyro sensor feature (which a fair amount do), then you will be able to use it with the Newnaivete VR headset.
One notable feature of the Newnaivete VR headset is that it comes with a handy Bluetooth remote control.
The control- which takes two AAA batteries (not included)- connects to your smartphone via the Bluetooth feature. For any Android phone, you can use the remote and all of its features completely.
For iOS, you only get limited usage but you can still connect the remote and use it for playing games in “player mode” on the headset and within the Apple Arcade.
You can also use it in multi-media mode which is available in the headset. Though not a professional game controller, the remote is an incredibly useful addition that is sure to enhance your virtual reality experience.
We all know that comfort is super important when it comes to these headsets and thankfully, the Newnaivete is the same as the other two inclusions on this list in that it is also designed with maximum comfort in mind.
The headset is lightweight- always a handy feature for something that needs to be worn on your head!-, weighing only 9.9 ounces so that you don’t have to worry about your neck getting sore or feeling pressure on your head whilst you use it.
This issue of head pressure is also tackled head-on (see what we did there?) by the adjustable head straps, which you can loosen or tighten to your personal needs.
The headset also has a soft, fabric inlay that is not only some much-needed, additional comfort for your face but it is also made of breathable, washable fabric so you can wash it once it starts to get a little gnarly.
There is also an anti-leakage silicon pad included- which is intended to remove any bleed of light from the headset whilst still maintaining a comfortable feeling - and a nose pad that accommodates noses of any shape and size! With comfort and cleanliness combined, the Newnaivete is surely one of the better VR headset options under $50.
- Comes with a nifty Bluetooth controller.
- Adjustable OD and FD settings to help with any difficulties seeing the screen.
- Durable but lightweight
- Washable face pad.
- Compatible with lots of different smartphones.
- Bluetooth controller only has full functionality with Android phones.
Best VR Headsets Under $50 Buying Guide
So, we have discussed three specific VR headsets that are under $50 and looked into what makes them so excellent in terms of value and what features they have to offer.
But what kind of VR headset is the best for you?
If you are looking for a VR headset that is specifically less than $50, then there are a few elements that you will need to consider before diving headfirst into a purchase.
Why Do You Want A VR Headset?
This may seem like an obvious question but sometimes, if a product is getting a lot of hype in the media- much like virtual reality due to its fascinating technology- then it can be easy to get swept up in this and forget why exactly you want a certain product.
When it comes to a cheaper choice of VR headset, there are several aspects that you need to consider.
The less pricey VR headsets are usually used to enhance smartphone games and videos or to accompany an existing console, such as the OIVO which partners with the Nintendo Switch.
Decide on whether you are looking for a headset to purely watch movies or television, play mobile games and VR apps on, or whether you want a VR headset that can connect to an existing console.
Once you know what it is you exactly plan to do with a VR headset, you should be ready to make your decision.
Know Your Budget
Even with these cheaper options, virtual reality is still a pretty expensive hobby to undertake.
Make sure that you have a good working knowledge of exactly how much you intend to spend on a VR headset so as not to make things too difficult for yourself when it comes to choosing which one to purchase.
Whilst a lot of these headsets have a great level of compatibility when it comes to the smartphone or console that you plan to use it with, you must research thoroughly beforehand.
The last thing that you want to do is get yourself a headset and not realize until it is too that you can’t use it as it doesn’t sync up with your device. Make sure to check all of the appropriate specifications before you buy!
Some headsets include adjustable screen settings which let you change the visuals of the headset accordingly depending on your personal requirements. This can make a VR headset far more accessible to those who might have vision impairments.
Before you choose your headset, consider whether you would benefit from the screen and visual adjustments. If so, make sure that the headset that you pick offers this customization.
Most VR headsets will include padding and lightweight materials so that your head doesn’t feel overly heavy or uncomfortable whilst you are playing but some have some additional features here and there, such as the Newnaivete headset which has a removable and washable pad.
If you have any particular preferences when it comes to comfort and adjustability, check the specifications to see exactly what each headset has to offer.
The VR headsets that allow you to turn your mobile device into an immersive virtual reality experience often have certain VR apps that they are compatible with, though there may be some that you need to double-check the specifications for.
It is also best to have a look at what sort of games and apps you will be able to use with the headset in terms of your personal preferences.
It is all well and good to buy a virtual reality headset to play a certain kind of game, but what happens when you find out that they don’t have that virtual reality anime dating simulator that you have had your heart set on??
Double-check exactly what kind of games are going to be available to you so that you know you will have something to play and enjoy.
A virtual reality headset is the epitome of fun and that is likely why you decided to get one, so if you aren’t having fun there isn’t much point!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Virtual Reality Headset?
Virtual reality (or VR) headsets are devices that are worn on the head, covering the eyes to allow you to fully immerse yourself in activities like video games and simulations.
The VR headset works via a stereoscopic display- mounted on the head- which provides images for each eye alongside stereo sound and tracking sensors that follow movements of the head to replicate a three-dimensional environment.
Some headsets have different elements here and there, such as eye-tracking sensors, light systems, magnetometers, accelerometers, or gyroscopes. They can also include controllers.
What Can You Do With A Virtual Reality Headset?
Whilst VR headsets are often used for gaming, they also have a wide range of uses for more practical means, such as for use within training simulations.
The United States Army has used virtual reality headsets in the past to train its soldiers. As well as that, doctors in training have also used virtual reality headsets in their studies to practice surgeries.
VR is more than just a gimmick or a way to play video games; it is an immersive experience that can be a great benefit to a variety of different professions.
Do VR Headsets Need A Phone?
No, not all virtual reality headsets need a phone. Plenty of VR devices have everything that they need built into them.
However, these kinds of headsets are usually the more expensive ones that we mentioned at the beginning of this article.
For a VR headset that is under $50, expect to need a phone or a device of some kind- such as the Nintendo Switch console with the OIVO- for it to function.