LAS VEGAS—In one of the more perplexing announcements at CES, Facebook's Hugo Barra said at the Qualcomm press conference that the upcoming standalone Oculus Go VR headset will run a Snapdragon 821, a two-year-old mobile chipset last seen in the LG G6.
He also said the headset will be built by Xiaomi, which is introducing a similar headset in China.
Barra may be handcuffed by Oculus Go's promised $199 price. At a price that low, Facebook may not have been able to afford the current Snapdragon 835 or future 845 chipsets.
"Oculus Go will be the most accessible standalone VR product in the market, at an incredible affordable price," Barra said. "We've worked very closely with Qualcomm to make sure we have the ideal combination of high performance and power efficiency."
The Snapdragon 821 is similar to the chip used in the Samsung Galaxy S7, which was Samsung's second-generation phone to work with its Gear VR headset. Oculus Go will run Gear VR content, Facebook said when it first announced the headset.
When we tried out Qualcomm's first standalone Snapdragon 820 VR, I could see the pixels in the VR display, but enjoyed the six degrees of freedom in the "walkaround" VR experience. The Snapdragon 835 chip itself offers about 25 percent better GPU performance compared to the 821.
When we reviewed the 2016 Gear VR with a Snapdragon 820-powered Galaxy S7, our reviewer said that "The Gear VR's graphics are compelling and look very smooth, and the internal motion sensors on the installed smartphones are generally accurate. But the Rift and Vive simply offer much smoother, more advanced visuals and far greater motion-tracking precision than the Gear VR because of the complicated, bulky, and expensive hardware they require."
Barra didn't take questions after the announcement. He also didn't offer an update on when the Oculus Go will come out; Facebook has previously said it will come out in 2018.