Augmented reality vs. virtual reality: Key differences

Augmented reality and virtual reality are two technologies designed to either replace or overlay physical environments with help from virtual content.

While virtual reality vs AR has been the topic of many debates, the truth is that both technologies are very useful in their own right. But we do need to settle the debate between VR vs AR to understand when you need to use one or the other and what differences are there between them.

Immersive factor

When we talk about the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality, immersion is a very important factor. In AR you have digital elements being added into real world surroundings.

That’s not a complete immersion, but it allows you to interact with items in an entirely new way. And then we have VR, which delivers a complete immersion, without any specific boundaries. You get to feel a part of the virtual world, so the reality virtual aspect is a lot better and you get to feel more immersed.


VR is using a headset that’s either tethered to a device or standalone.

On the other hand, the components of a typical AR system involve a processing unit and input and output devices. Portable devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones typically integrate all the hardware needed to run a large number of AR applications in various application domains and consequently lend themselves easily to such purposes..

Each piece of hardware is different when it comes to how it works, as outlined by the mechanics below. So when you compare AR versus VR, you can see they are vastly different. 


The difference between VR and augmented reality can also be seen when it comes to mechanics. VR uses 2 lenses that are placed between the screen. You can adjust the lenses and you can access haptic, sound and visual stimuli as you interact with the world.

However, augmented reality is different. AR is relying on depth sensing, mapping and vision so it can showcase the material to a user. That way cameras can gather and then study data. Since AR showcases data to the user while interacting with the real environment, the AR virtual experience is vastly different when it comes to VR.

Use cases

What’s important to note is that in AR, 25% of the experience is virtual and 75% of it is real. VR shifts those numbers, since 75% is a virtual experience and only 25% relies on real elements like inputs and so on.

Normally, AR is designed for situations when you need more information and features when interacting with the real world. It adds elements on top of real world items, but it doesn’t replace them.

However, when you ask virtual reality what is it, you soon realize that VR offers a complete immersion. As a result, it can be great for training, testing things, but also creating completely new worlds.

It also helps when it comes to applications that need you to interact with items within a completely unique environment. An important thing to note is that augmented reality tends to require more bandwidth and better connectivity when it comes to VR, due to its complexity. 

AR pros and cons


1. It helps enhance learning and exploration

2. You get to interact with a real environment

3. It’s very efficient and accurate

4. You can share knowledge or experience over a long distance.


1. Most AR devices bring a low-level performance

    VR pros and cons


    1. You get to have a fully immersive experience

    2. It’s possible to interact with the world in a variety of methods

    3. It works great for many industries


      1. It’s a fabricated world, not a real one

      2. In some cases, it can lead to addiction to the virtual world

      3. While it can be great for training, it can’t replace real training

        Which is the better option?

        When you compare virtual reality vs augmented reality, you soon realize that both concepts are different and they come with specific uses.

        The augmented reality vs Metaverse debate comes often, and AR isn’t really suitable for that concept. Yet VR is, since it delivers a full immersion.So, it mostly comes down to the things you need.

        There are many augmented reality vs virtual reality examples where both technologies can serve a similar purpose.

        In the end, it’s important to assess your needs, then you can make the right choice between augmented reality vs virtual reality.