The Samsung Gear VR is one of the easiest ways to experience virtual reality, but some users are learning that convenience comes with its costs. Owners of Samsung phones such as the S6, S6 Edge, S7 and S7 Edge are reporting that Oculus app is destroying their phone's battery life. Image: AP
Samsung phone owners have been writing about the problem on Oculus forums, on Reddit forums and in emails to Gizmodo. The Samsung phone owners say their phone's CPU is running really high, even when the Oculus app is closed, and it's preventing the device from going to sleep. The strain on the processor is burning through the phone's battery ridiculously fast. Many users are reporting more than half of their battery being drained in just a few hours with the Oculus VR app installed and running in the background.
"A background update for Oculus caused my S7 to chew through the battery, keeping it warm all day yesterday and creating major a lag," wrote one concerned Samsung phone owner in an email to Gizmodo. "Randomly tried to use the Gear VR last night, and it prompted for another updated that wouldn't install."
Apparently what's happening is the Oculus VR app is getting stuck in an installation loop. The app continues to download and reinstall the app, even after the process has already been completed. This is causing phone's to keep the processor running at a high rate and also making the phones get really hot. For a while, the only fix was to uninstall the app. Oculus has now said that you do not need to uninstall the Oculus app, and that you just need to update it when you open it. Here is the company's official statement on the battery issue:
We recently pushed an update to the Oculus app that inadvertently caused some people to experience phone battery drain. The team has issued a fix that prompts people to update the Oculus software when they open the Oculus app. If they do not see the prompt, then the phone has been automatically updated and no further action is needed.
For owners of the Gear VR, the problem has become frustrating and concerning. Part of the allure of the Gear VR was the fact that you'd be able to experience virtual reality with your phone, but they can't do that any more. Beyond the inconvenience, it's also scary that the Galaxy S7 phones are getting so freaking hot after the most recent Oculus VR update. As you've probably heard, the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has been plagued by overheating issues, which have caused the phones to combust in pant pockets, cars, aeroplanes and homes. There's no evidence that the S7 will suffer from the same problems at the Note 7, but it's something S7 owners should keep in mind.
We reached out to Samsung for comment, but had not heard back at time of writing.