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Why Is The Cardboard App Not Compatible With My Phone? (Clear Answer!)

Cardboard app not compatible with my phone

Why is the Cardboard app not compatible with my phone?”

This is a question that a surprising number of people have been faced with when trying to enjoy a mobile VR experience.

The Cardboard app may not be compatible with your phone simply because it does not meet the necessary VR hardware requirements.

Must-have hardware sensors in your phone include the gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer.

Without them, the cardboard box VR headset will not be able to detect movements such as tilting, linear orientation, and direction against the magnetic field.

If your phone’s hardware meets the standards, the phone’s operating system will also play a factor in determining the Cardboard app’s compatibility.

Older phone models with outdated operating systems may not support the Cardboard app- in which case you will have to update the system if it’s available!

Does Google Cardboard Work With All Phones?

Does Google Cardboard Work With All Phones

Yes, the Google Cardboard works with most phones- including both Android and iOS. 

Devices running Android 4.1 and iOS 8 or higher will support the Google Cardboard virtual reality headset.

However, the type of phone and year of manufacture also determine whether Google Cardboard will work on your phone.

As briefly mentioned above, the phone must have a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer in order to run the application.

In addition to this, the Apple or Android phone must also have reasonable RAM capabilities to enable the Cardboard app to run smoothly.

Several lists of compatible phones that can use the Google Cardboard are available online with a simple search.

If you are unsure about your phone, there are several ways to confirm whether Google Cardboard will work with your phone.

How To Test If Your Phone Supports Google Cardboard

Color shot of a young woman looking through a cardboard, a device with which one can experience virtual reality on a mobile phone.

The first method to test whether your phone supports Google Cardboard is by seeing if your phone is capable of viewing Youtube 360 degree videos.

This feature is the simplest form of VR experience, and as such is one of the best methods to test VR compatibility with your phone.

To begin, open the Youtube application.

Search ‘360-Degree videos’ and open any video from the results.

When the video starts playing, you should be able to move the phone from one angle to another to get a 360-degree video.

You will also see a VR icon on your screen. This icon indicates that the video you are viewing is in VR mode.

If you cannot view the video even as you rotate your phone, your phone may not be compatible with VR!

Another way to test compatibility is to use a third-party application.

These VR-checking apps are a quick way to check VR compatibility for your phone. There are many VR checking apps available on both the Google Play Store and Apple Store.

In addition to showing whether your phone is compatible with VR, the apps can also detect your screen resolution, size, and other features which play a role in VR compatibility.

Finally, if you want another fast method of checking whether your phone is compatible, run a Google search on the list of Google Cardboard compatible phone models

Why Isn’t My Phone VR Compatible?

As mentioned earlier, if your phone is not VR-compatible it is because it does not have the required hardware components to run virtual reality.

Without these sensors, motion detection is inhibited or downright impossible- and as such, you will unfortunately not be able to experience VR on your phone!

The three most essential sensors for VR compatibility are the gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer. These three sensors work together to detect motion and direction.


The gyroscope is the backbone of VR technology.

It is the primary sensor that determines your phone’s VR compatibility. This sensor is used to detect tilting or twisting movements on your phone.

No matter how your phone changes its orientation, the gyroscope will sense its original position. This action is similar to spinning a disc, with the middle section staying intact.

The achievement here is six degrees of freedom (6DoF). 6DoF covers all the motion degrees of a stationary body and is essential in VR. The gyroscope will detect all changes in orientation on your phone, no matter what direction it spins.


The accelerometer is another vital sensor that detects your phone’s VR compatibility.

This sensor detects linear motion on your phone. This sensor is responsible for dictating whether your phone is in landscape or portrait mode.


Finally, the magnetometer is also a key sensor determining your phone’s VR compatibility.

It is a compass sensor that detects magnetic fields on your phone, and as such can detect the direction of your phone against the magnetic field.

The magnetometer helps your phone determine which direction is North from whatever location you are currently in.

How Can I Watch VR Without A Cardboard?

How Can I Watch VR Without A Cardboard

You may want to watch VR without owning a Google Cardboard headset. That’s fine!

In this situation, it is possible to watch VR without a Cardboard by watching instead in ‘Free-viewingmode.

With Free-viewing mode, you can view image pairs in 3D versions via something called the Wall-eye technique.

This technique allows your eyes to become focused on an object as if it were at a distance.

Firstly, bring your phone closer to your face. Everything you see at this distance will be blurred.

Then, move the phone away from your face. Ensure your gaze is still on the object, and do not change the field of view.

Slowly, the image will appear in 3D. You can repeat this process again if you do not get it quite right the first time!

Always remember that your focus should be behind the phone screen as if you are looking at a distant object. This way, your brain will interpret the image as three dimensional.

Do not direct your eyes around the image; otherwise, the technique will not work!

Furthermore, the VR material that you view should be configured and formatted correctly. This will prevent eye strain and discomfort while enjoying virtual reality.

If you have the Google Cardboard app, ensure it is configured to match your phone and headset.

Even if you do not use a headset, you will still need configuration to prevent image distortion during future use.

After configuring the application, you can use a ‘free-viewing’ headset- which, in essence, means no headset at all!

How To Use Free Viewing Mode On VR

How To Use Free Viewing Mode On VR

To watch VR in free-viewing mode, you can choose to either use just one or both hands.

With two hands, you can tap the screen with one to control the app, and use the other to hold the phone in place.

If you want to see areas out of view, simply move your head or body in that direction. This will bring the images to view by using the sensors to detect any phone movement in relation to its former position.

You can also control the VR experience with a Bluetooth controller if you do not wish to use both of your hands.

It is important to note that you cannot configure absolutely all phones for free-viewing. It is best to first try to configure your Google Cardboard to see whether you can access free-viewing mode or not.

Finally, the free-viewing technique is available on most iOS devices. However if you use an Android device, you may need a test run!

Final Thoughts

While it is a great innovation for VR lovers, Google Cardboard is not compatible with all phones.

Operational-specific hardware is required for both VR and Cardboard to function on your device.

The most critical hardware is the Gyroscope sensor, as it detects your phone’s orientation. Without the gyroscope, it would be impossible to view VR on your phone!

The other two essential sensors are the accelerometer and magnetometer. These two sensors are present in almost all phones, and they aid in linear and magnetic direction detection.

Unfortunately, the two cannot function in VR without the presence of a gyroscope.

If you are unsure whether your phone has these sensors, run a VR test!

The first testing method is the use of Youtube 360-degree videos.

If you can view different dimensions of the videos by tilting and moving your phone around, then it is most likely VR-compatible. Alternatively, you can check for VR-viability  using a VR-Compatibility checker.

If your phone is VR compatible and you do not have a Cardboard, you can still enjoy the VR experience with free-viewing.

However, you will also have to test to see whether your phone can operate the free-viewer technique or not!

The latest smartphone technology got you feeling amazed? Click HERE for a deep dive on the State of the Smartphone in 2022 (and beyond!)

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