The Asus Zenfone AR is the first high-end Google Tango phone

Ron Amadeo
Tango, Google's augmented reality smartphone technology, recently debuted on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, but that's not the only phone we'll see it on. Today, Asus announced the Asus Zenfone AR, the second-ever Tango phone.
Lenovo may have been first to market with Tango, but the Phab 2 Pro didn't feel like a flagship Tango phone. It was only packing a Snapdragon 652 processor, which was a poor match for the power intensive tasks of an augmented reality smartphone. (It was also huge, with a 6.4-inch screen and large bezels.)
The Zenfone AR seems like a device more worthy of "flagship" status. It has a speedier Snapdragon 821 SoC and a more reasonable 5.7-inch, 2560x1440 Super AMOLED display. It's also packing a whopping 8GB (or 6GB) of RAM. That might sound excessive, but remember in our Tango review, the amazing Matterport Scenes app would shut off after a few minutes due to low memory. It was blowing up the Phab 2 Pro, which "only" had 4GB of RAM. Tango basically needs all the power it can get.
The Zenfone AR is packing a 23MP camera with the usual extra Tango sensors of a motion tracking camera and depth-sensing camera. Unlike Lenovo's design, which stacked every sensor in a line on the back of the phone, everything is in a neat little rectangle with the Zenfone AR.
For storage options, Asus has you covered with flavors in 32/64/128 or 256GB of UFS 2.0 storage plus a MicroSD slot. Rounding out the spec sheet is a 3300mAh battery, 8MP front camera, quick charging, NFC, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. For the software, Asus is shipping Android 7.0 Nougat with the usual Asus skin (ZenUI 3.0) on top.
The Zenfone AR doesn't just do augmented reality, it's also compatible with Google's Daydream VR standard. You can slap the device in a headset and use it to power a VR session. Before you get any wild ideas of using the AR sensors of Tango and the VR headset at the same time, remember that the Daydream headset covers the whole phone. It would block the Tango sensors on the Zenfone AR. There's also the matter of Tango not being optimized for VR, so the AR rendering pipeline isn't really fast enough for the low latency that non-vomit-inducing VR requires.
Like any new ecosystem, the one thing Tango needs more than anything is for people to actually make augmented reality apps. The Asus CES press conference delivered, with a representative from Gap coming on stage with a "dressing room" app. Gap's app shows you a full-size mannequin wearing items from its clothing line. You give your dimensions to the app, and an accurate mannequin will be generated that you can walk around. The app isn't full of hand-made designs, either. It uses the same CAD data Gap uses to design its clothing, along with cloth physics to simulate how the clothes will lie on the model.
Now, some bad news: there was no price attached to the Zenfone AR, but Asus did promise a release window for "Q2 2017." That's actually a long time away in the smartphone world. By then we'll all be talking about the latest Snapdragon 835 devices. Depending on how fast that new chip is, the Zenfone AR might not qualify as "high-end" by then.
The Asus Zenfone AR is the first high-end Google Tango phone Reviewed by Bizpodia on 18:21 Rating: 5

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