Along with the expected Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung is also taking the wraps off the a 360-degree video camera, the Gear 360. It's built around two 15-megapixel sensors, each nestled behind a fisheye lens, and also has a tiny 0.5-inch display. You can use it handheld with the included handle, or set it down on a surface with a mini-tripod. In the latter mode, it looks kind of like a Portal Turret had a baby with an old Logitech webcam. In the best way possible. Both the handle and the tripod screw into an industry-standard threaded port (the same that probably graces the underside of your camera), so you can always bring your own accessories to the party.
Although it's difficult to rate the resolution of 360-degree video, Samsung says it'll capture 3,840 x 1,920 video at 30 frames per second. That's just a few vertical pixels shy of 4K. Still images are far larger: 7,776 x 3,888, or 30-megapixels. There's no on-board storage, but it supports MicroSD cards up to 128GB in capacity.
While the Gear 360 will output plain MP4s or JPEGs, it's really designed to allow anyone to create video for the company's Gear VR headset. You can sync the camera with a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge for remote-control features, and you'll also be able to preview footage in real-time on your phone screen. Any videos you take on the 360 will be able to be viewed, stitched, and saved directly to a smartphone.
We got to play with the Gear 360 very briefly at a meeting in New York, and while the thing may look like a video game tchotchke, its ease of use is its biggest asset. Popping in the battery and a memory card (just in case) took seconds, and so did pressing the button on top of the sphere to start it all up. After that, you're more-or-less meant to forget about it — Samsung's aiming to capture more meaningful slices of life, ones that wouldn't normally by shot by professional VR rigs, so off-the-cuff usage is encouraged. We even managed to get a short 360 video loaded onto a Galaxy S7 Edge for a bit of auto-stitching — which is faster than it sounds — and wound up with a perfectly serviceable slice of VR. We don't have a price or an exact release date for the Gear 360 yet, but it'll be available in "select countries" at some point between April 1st and June 30th.