How To Watch VR Videos Without Buying A Headset

Virtual reality videos are starting to take the world by storm. Brands and companies are leveraging VR more and more, especially as more consumers jump on board with it through products like the Oculus Quest, HTC Vive Pro, and Lenovo Mirage Solo. However, not everyone wants to jump on the VR bandwagon, whether for personal reasons or the high cost associated with virtual reality.

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That said, if you don’t have a virtual reality headset, how can you still watch all of the cool virtual reality videos that brands and companies are publishing? It might seem like a difficult, but luckily — if you have a smartphone — you can still catch this type of content. Here’s how.

Watch VR Videos Without Buying A Headset

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With Google Cardboard

If you’re the biggest issue is price with a VR headset, then you might want to consider something like Google Cardboard. This is something that will only set you back a couple of dollars, as it’s cardboard with just the lens needed for viewing virtual reality videos. If you have a smartphone, you don’t need anything more than this to use virtual reality content.

This works with both Android and iOS phones; however, there is a size limit. You can only use phones that have displays between 4- and 6-inches in size. That means that your Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone XS Max just aren’t going to fit inside. Still, it’ll work with most smartphones, and you’ll get access to watching 360-degree VR videos the way they were meant to be viewed.

Without a headset

If you’re insistent on not using a virtual reality headset, but you still want to watch those 360-degree VR videos, you can still do that fairly quickly and within supported apps, too.

In Facebook

You can watch virtual reality videos right within the Facebook app very quickly. You can move your phone around the room to watch all corners of the video, or you can use your finger to navigate from right to left or left to right. Sine Facebook supports this type of content right within its application, and you don’t need any third-party tools or a headset to watch a 360-degree video, you won’t get the full experience.

Are you having trouble finding a 360-degree VR video on your phone? Just open up the Search bar and type in #360Video, and you’ll find a whole bunch of content out there.

In YouTube

Similar to Facebook, YouTube supports 360-degree functionality for just the smartphone, too. All you need to do is move your phone from left to right or right to left to view the video in all different angles — this is the only way you can watch 360-degrees with the iPhone, as 360-degree YouTube videos for the iPhone with Google Cardboard aren’t supported yet.

In other apps

Other applications support 360-degree video as well. Generally, you can watch 360-degree videos in those apps that support it, and you can navigate them the same way you would any other app — from moving your smartphone from right to left and left to right.

On the PC

It’s a lot less immersive, but you can watch 360-degree virtual reality video on your computer or laptop as well. All you need to do is find a 360-degree video to watch — this can be on YouTube or Facebook — and then you can navigate around it with your mouse or touchpad. It’s a lot less immersive, but it could certainly be better than spending a few hundred dollars on a VR headset or waiting around for the Google Cardboard to arrive on your doorstep.

It’s worth noting that only specific websites will support 360-degree video. Facebook and YouTube are big ones, but if you see a video on a website that doesn’t support that type of content, you’ll mainly be watching a standard recording without the ability to use your clicker to navigate around the video.

On top of that, you have to have a browser that also supports 360-degree video. Google Chrome is one of those browsers, but you can also use Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera — many others are still playing catch up in this regard. If you don’t see the functionality in those browsers, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version.


As you can see, it’s quite easy to watch a 360-degree virtual reality video without using a VR headset. You can very easily access that type of video content as long as you have a smartphone, tablet, computer, or laptop available to you.

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