With recent advancements in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), handset makers are experimenting with these niche technologies and integrating them in their devices.
With recent advancements in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), handset makers are experimenting with these niche technologies and integrating them in their devices. Last November, the first fully capable AR smartphone called Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro was launched. Under the hood, it had the hardware and software necessary to use Google’s Tango AR technology.
Taking this initiative to the next level, Taiwanese device maker Asus has debuted its ZenFone AR in collaboration with Google’s Tango. Priced at Rs 49,999, this device has all you need—a 23-megapixel camera, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage and AR capabilities to raise your experience. We used this device for over a week and here are our views.
The first thing you will notice about the ZenFone AR is its Google VR set and premium design. It has a burnished leather back which combines with a gunmetal aluminum frame to give the phone a premium feel. The metallic finish on the edges further add elegance to the overall design. The front of the device is dominated by a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The display might be similar to some other devices, but the screen on ZenFone AR looks stunning and beautiful on actual usage. At 515ppi, it is a visual treat when watching videos on YouTube.
Power and volume rocker keys are placed on the right edge while the left has slot for SIM cards. USB Type-C port, 3.5 mm headphone socket, primary microphone and speaker are placed at the bottom, while the top has a secondary microphone for noise cancellation. The front is home to an earpiece, cut-out for the front camera, sensors and notification LED, and a prominent company logo in the narrow space above the screen. The capacitive back and overview buttons are placed on either side of a physical home button that has an integrated fingerprint scanner. The undetachable rear panel is home to Asus and Tango branding at the bottom, with rear camera and LED flash on top.
ZenFone AR is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core processor with two cores clocked at 2.34 GHz and the other two clocked at 1.6 GHz. and it comes with 8 GB of RAM. The phone packs 128 GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 2 TB. It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 3.5 on top. Asus has customised the icons and there are themes to change its look.
During the review period, the phone worked without any hiccup. Switching between UI and home screen app drawer was quite smooth. We were able to play some high-graphic intensive games. There were no frame drops or stutters during game play. Most important, the continuous usage did not effect the battery. The 3300 mAh battery could easily run for 12 hours.
The differentiating feature of this phone is AR capability. It comes with a couple of preloaded AR apps like BMW Visualiser. It lets a user examine the BMW from all angles and even peer inside just by moving the phone around as if one is looking at a real-world object. This is done with the help of Measure App that uses triple-camera setup to measure distances between 3D objects in real-world units. The Asus ZenFone AR also works with Google’s Daydream platform for VR. We tried YouTube VR and it was indeed an immersive experience.
On the camera front, the ZenFone AR comes with a 23-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel selfie camera. It has laser auto focus along with phase and contrast detection to help the phone lock focus in different situations. It can also record video at 4K and there is an option for full-HD at 60fps as well.
On the connectivity side options include Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC, 3G and 4G with support for Band 40 used by some LTE networks in India. Sensors on the phone include compass magnetometer, proximity sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope and barometer. It is a dual SIM smartphone that accepts Nano-SIM.
Asus is attempting something new that is yet to take-off fully, overall ZenFone AR is a powerful phone that delivers high performance and great user experience.
Estimated street price: Rs 49,999