A neat little feature that the Gear VR has is it’s passthrough camera mode. When activated, the Gear VR passthrough camera allows you to see out of the camera on the back of the Galaxy Note 4 attached to the Gear VR. The Note 4 has a 16 MP camera and the ability to shoot video at 60 FPS at 1080p.
Unfortunately the Gear VR passthrough camera mode isn’t utilizing the Note 4’s camera to its best abilities. John Carmack took to Twitter to explain that prototype versions of the Gear VR had a better passthrough camera mode due to image stabilization being disabled.
Figured out why shipping Gear VR pass-through camera is much worse than early prototypes: Optical image stabilization not disabled.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) February 17, 2015
Whether or not this can be patched still remains to be seen. The “downgrade” of the pass through mode may be a deliberate move by Samsung to steer developers away from augmented reality projects and instead develop a full enclosed VR experience.