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MWC 2016: Samsung launches Gear 360 camera for VR

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Andreas Stegmüller

samsung gear 360The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona kicked off this year with Samsung not only announcing its two flagship smartphones, but also the Gear 360, a compact ball-shaped camera able to shoot panora photos and 360° videos. Such photos and videos can be viewed with a matching smartphone, or even a pair of VR goggles, such as Samsung's own Gear VR. Two camera lenses with a resolution of 15 megapixels are used to shoot videos and pictures, acommodated in a case reminding one of an oversized golf ball. The combined resolution of the two lenses is 7,776 x 3,888 pixels. Videos. however, are only recorded with a resolution of 3,840 x 1,920 pixels and a maximum of 30 FPS in the MP4 format (H.265). Time Lapse and video loops can also be recorded with the new Gear 360 camera.

Videos and photos can be stored on a microSD card, or be transmitted to a smartphone over WiFi. Alternatively, camera and smartphone can be hooked up using Bluetooth. Alas, to view content shot with the camera, one will need a current generation smartphone - during the press conference Samsung only referred to its new Galaxy S7 devices. Presumably, however, other Android smarthones, and perhaps even the Apple iPhone, will be supported. Needless to say, PCs are naturally also supported. Samsung shared a quire impressive demo video and numerous sample photos to demonstrate the camera's capabilities.

On the rear one can find a 0,5" small OLED display which only displays the current status. The battery has a capacity of 1,350 mAh, in addition a small tripod is available. The Samsung Gear 360 weighs around 153 g. For outdoor use, the Gear 360 is at least IP53 certified, meaning it can be splashed with water a bit. Samsung didn't state when the Samsung Gear 360 will hit the stores, and just how much it will cost.

In order to increase the incentive for buying the Gear 360, Samsung announced that customers who preorder the Galaxy S7 and S7 Galax edge will receive a free Galaxy Gear VR. Development of the new Gear 360 started as part of Project Beyond - back then the hardware was far larger.