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The best smartphone mixed reality headsets

How much does a mixed reality headset cost?

Mixed reality headsets have captured the imagination of techies and futurists and, although it’s early days, there’s a huge amount of potential with MR. However, the prices of the most well-known brands in MR – Microsoft HoloLens at $3,000 and the Magic Leap One at $2,295 – means mixed reality is for now out of reach for most consumers.

MR headsets display an overlay of digital content that interacts with objects in the real world in real-time. Thus, mixed reality is experienced through transparent wearable glasses or headsets.

Our selection of 3 cheap smartphone MR headsets

We’ve selected 3 smartphone-based MR headsets available at an affordable price.

Mixed reality for Android

Tesseract Holoboard Enterprise Edition

Tesseract Holoboard Enterprise Edition

The Tesseract Holoboard Enterprise Edition is a smartphone MR headset.

Tesseract has created a series of AR and MR headsets that are affordable and smartphone-powered. The Tesseract Holoboard Enterprise Edition is the only HMD of the series that offers mixed reality for Android (smartphones running Android 6.0 and above) with OTG (on-the-go) support.

At $349 users can enjoy a wide FOV (82°) and experience MR via the IMU (inertial measurement unit) based tracking and proprietary marker-based (spatial) tracking, which allows users to interact and place 3D content in the real world.

Mixed reality for iPhone

Occipital Bridge

Occipital Bridge

The Occipital Bridge is a mixed reality VR headset than works with an iPhone and Occipital Structure Sensor.

Occipital has developed the Bridge to offer smartphone mixed reality which is compatible with iPhone 6S, 7, 8 and X (iPhone “Plus” models with larger 5.5-inch screens are not supported by Bridge). Furthermore, the mobile mixed reality headset has the largest FOV of all the MR HMDs (120°).

However, users need to purchase the Occipital Structure Sensor, a mobile 3D scanning device to work with the HMD. In addition, the Bridge is compatible with VR apps and offers positional tracked VR, 6DoF and inside-out tracking.

The Google Cardboard of mixed reality

Zappar ZapBox (mixed reality for Android and iOS)

Zappar Zapbox

The Zappar Zapbox is a mixed reality headset for Android and iOS.

Zappar has taken inspiration from other Google Cardboard wearables to deliver affordable mixed reality with the ZapBox. The simple Google Cardboard like-design allows users to place either Android or iOS smartphones (with a display size between 4.5 and 6 inches) into the ZapBox and enjoy MR and room-scale virtual reality.

With a price point of $30, the headset comes with two cardboard controllers which can be tracked when visible to the camera, as well cardboard markers which are used to map the MR space in the real world.

Don’t let the high price points of the well known mixed reality headset put you off from enjoying mixed reality now. Eventually, with increased content, tech adoption, and lower prices, mixed reality will surely become more accessible to the mass market.

Looking for other MR headsets? Check out our article on the best mixed reality headsets and use our comparison engine to find the right device for you.

About this author

Steve Noble

Steve worked as Head of Content at Aniwaa in 2018. After studying journalism at Rhodes University, South Africa, Steve went on to work for startups and large corporations in several countries, writing on a variety of topics including sports, emerging technologies and business, before joining Aniwaa.