The budget headset Mi VR Play found its way into the hands of consumers in late-2016 to much fanfare – the lauded Chinese tech company Xiaomi is well-known for producing high-quality yet competitively-priced products, and fans were itching to try out the company’s first foray into the VR peripheral space. Fast forward to mid-2017, and its successor – the Mi VR Play 2 – was released into the wild. The question is – with each having pros and cons of their own, which comes out as the better VR headset? We pit them against each other to find out.
Both Mi VR Play headsets have very different designs. The first noticeable thing is that the Mi VR Play holds the device with a two-way zip design, while the Mi VR Play 2 boasts an open case that holds the device in place like a clip. The Mi VR Play has a pretty boxy shape, while the Mi VR Play 2 follows in the aesthetic footsteps of the Google Daydream View with its oval pill-shaped design. Finally, the Mi VR Play has a three-way head strap, while its successor opts to go the singular wraparound.
Winner: Mi VR Play 2 – it can’t be argued that the newer edition has finer lines and is very pleasing to the eye, along with being considerably lighter than its older sibling.
The lenses are arguably the most important part of a VR headset, but with those more on the budget side, most don’t expect much. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the lenses of both the Mi VR Play and the Mi VR Play 2 aren’t anything overly fantastic – both are very similar, with anti-reflective coating and a high tolerance interval of 0.01mm. One thing that sets them apart, though, is that the newer model has a 93-degree field-of-view while the older has one of 75-degrees.
Winner: Mi VR Play 2 – while both headsets have very similar lenses, the newer model beats out the older by a fraction thanks to the 18-degree difference in field-of-view.
Alongside the lens quality, the comfort of a VR headset is a no-brainer. While both Mi headsets are light and breathable, the Mi Play VR 2 wins with its 183 grams of weight compared to the Mi Play VR’s 208 grams. The original model’s boxy frame also might make it a little uncomfortable on some face shapes, while the Mi Play VR 2 offers a natural curved line and soft, breathable foam padding around the face and nose – unquestionably more comfortable. However, with only one wraparound strap to support the weight of both the device and the headset you might find it slipping more often than it should.
Winner: Mi VR Play 2 – although the straps of the Mi VR Play offer better weight support, it’s younger sibling has a much better overall comfort level thanks to its form-fitting shape and included foam padding.
Both the Mi VR Play and its newer model are marketed as appropriate for mobile devices between 4.7” and 5.7”. However, as the Mi VR Play 2 offers an open-housed casing to hold the device, it is actually possible to slot in devices bigger than 5.7”, such as the 6.81” Mi Max device. As the Mi VR Play touts an enclosed zipper case, it’s a struggle to fit any devices past the 5.7” limit inside it.
Winner: Mi VR Play 2 – while a majority of smartphones on the market now don’t exceed 5.7”, being able to support bigger sized devices is a plus that pushes the Mi VR Play 2 into the winning spot here.
And the winner is…
Xiaomi definitely learned from the initial release of the Mi VR Play – their successor comes out as the clear winner across all categories. However there are still a number of pros and cons for each headset, so let’s finish up with a quick overall summary:
Mi Play VR
- Made from Lycra, which is comfortable and breathable
- Three-way strap supports weight of phone evenly across head
- Holes on front, allowing use of camera for apps that can use it
- Two-way zip easy to use and secure
Mi Play VR 2
- Very lightweight material
- Soft, breathable padding around the nose and face
- Open-housed casing for the device, allowing for devices of all sizes to fit
- Sides shaped in a way to block out light considerably
Mi Play VR
- No padding makes it slightly uncomfortable for longer periods of use
- Square sides create considerable light leakage
- Low field-of-view
- Metal trigger button requires a bit of force to press down
Mi Play VR 2
- Only one wraparound strap can cause uneven weight distribution
- No windows in the front casing: unable to make use of the camera