Steam phone VR

Phone VR – my experience with the latest and greatest

My experience with playing games from my Steam account with phone VR games was optimistically decent. It took a lot of setting up for, well, not a whole lot of results. For those wondering, you can play VR games using your phone. I used two programs to do this: Riftcat VR and TrinusVR. The Verizon LG G3 was used for all testing. You can read a review of the G3 here. Though the G3 is certainly not the newest phone, the hardware remains powerful enough for phone VR.


Let’s start with how Steam VR works through your phone. For my headset, I used the Xtreme VR Vue FX, but anything like a Google Cardboard would work. To use Riftcat VR, you have to download the app on your phone, download the accompanying program on your computer, plug your phone in with USB tethering enabled, start Steam VR and run your game.


phone vr

The LG G3 is still powerful enough to do VR. Image credit – LG


My first technical issue came with plugging my phone in. My LG G3 is the Verizon model, which blocks any forms of tethering if the sim card is not from Verizon, and jail breaking support for the G3 was stopped long ago. This problem also occurred with Trinus, and I believe my experience would’ve been a little better with a cable. Having said that, the improvement would have been marginal, certainly not enough to change my stance on this phone VR thing.


Riftcat had decent instructions, and with a little tinkering I was up and running. I was disappointed. Regardless of the resolution, I had horrible artifacts and questionable frame rates. I tried again on another day and had less on-screen artifact, but the experience was still not too great.


phone vr

A Samsung phone virtual reality headset. You might not really need this. Image credit – Road to VR


Trinus was a little better. The resolution stayed at 480p no matter what, and I managed to hover at about 30 frames per second, though that dropped to 15 frames per second when I actually did something. It was better then Riftcat, but still not great. Trinus was alsoharder to start up and get working. It is US$5 cheaper then Riftcat, with Riftcat demanding US$15 and Trinus costing US$10.


phone vr

Well, this chap looks happy at least. Image credit – YouTube


Overall, neither Riftcat or Trinus are bad programs. However, there are barriers to having a good phone VR experience with Steam. Further, as VR still maturing, it causes issues that are unavoidable and will only be fixed with time and good developer support. Both programs show a lot of promise, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on the user experience becoming magical any time soon.

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