ASUS ZenFone AR review
Built for AR
The ASUS ZenFone AR is the world’s first Daydream-ready and Tango-enabled smartphone. In our ASUS ZenFone AR review, we will take a look at the phone’s augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) features, along with the ZenFone’s other innovations.
Display - 5.7”
The ASUS ZenFone AR has a very large 5.7” WQHD Super AMOLED display. This gives the phone a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, which it will need in order to create a convincing VR experience.
A Bluelight Filter for Eye Care has been built in, helping to reduce eyestrain during long viewing sessions. Overall there is a 79% screen-to-body ratio and the display is protected behind Gorilla Glass 4.
The display offers 60ms touch response times, which is mainly aimed at ensuring that the gaming experience is smooth. For outdoor types, the display can also be switched into glove touch mode.
Processor - 8GB RAM
The processor needs to be extremely powerful for running VR and AR, and it is. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 14nm 2.35Ghz processor has been used, and in a first for smartphones, the ASUS ZenFone AR has a huge 8GB RAM.
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The Qualcomm Adreno 530 graphics processing unit (GPU) deals with the high demands of Daydream and Tango. To ensure that both processors can work efficiently, without overheating, ASUS has added a vapor cooling system.
Design - Burnished-leather
The front face of the ASUS ZenFone AR looks unremarkable but the rear face is covered in burnished-leather, coloured to Charcoal Black. In the centre of the back face is the camera module and this looks like nothing seen before, but more on that later.
The burnished-leather back meets a precision-milled metal frame and the overall look is accentuated with sleek stainless steel. This ASUS phone weighs in at 170g and swells at the edges from 4.6mm to 8.95mm, at the centre.
Phone Set Up
Getting started - Android 7.0 and ZenUI 3.0
The ASUS ZenFone AR has Google’s latest Android 7.0 Nougat OS and the all-new ASUS ZenUI 3.0. Google brings familiar apps, such as Google Search and Google Maps, while the ASUS user interface individualises the look and adds features such as Game Genie, for broadcasting game play live, over YouTube or Twitch.
This ASUS smartphone comes with different amounts of internal memory. The values are 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. It is worth considering one of the higher memory options if you intend on making use of Daydream and Tango.
If you choose too low a memory option at the outset, then all is not lost. The ZenFone AR can hold a microSD card with a value of up to 2TB. Consumers will also enjoy access to online cloud storage with 5GB of ASUS WebStorage free for life and 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years.
AR - Tango
Tango is Google’s augmented reality technology and this gives consumers a new way to interact with their surroundings. Tango works with computer vision software and a set of sensors, which gives the phone the ability to understand space and motion, in the may that humans do.
Next: Asus Zenfone 4 review
In short, Tango adds motion tracking, area learning and depth perception, so that the phone can understand its motion as it moves through an area, detecting walls, objects and floors.
The ASUS ZenFone AR will remember key visual features of a physical space in 3D. This then means that Tango games allow you to interact with with virtual objects, that appear to be in the real world.
For entertainment, you can play with cute virtual pets in Raise or play other AR games such as Domino World, Crayola Color Blaster, HotWheel’s, Slingshot Island, Wild Wild Race or Woorld.
ZenFone AR has more practical uses too. It can aid you in tackling projects such as redecorating, by taking measurements and then allowing you, to move around virtual furniture to see how it fits. Apps that work with ZenFone AR includes iStaging, Lowers, Matterport Scenes, Measure and WayfairView.
VR - Daydream
The ASUS ZenFone AR is Daydream ready, offering high-quality and immersive virtual reality experiences. The WQHD Super AMOLED display creates ultra-smooth graphics, while high-fidelity sensors measure head movements.
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To take advantage of Daydream you will need the Daydream VR headset and controller by Google. Once you have these, you can travel anywhere or enjoy your own personal VR cinema.
Audio - SonicMaster 3.0
SonicMaster 3.0 combines audio innovations for use with VR and AR, giving more volume, quality and effects. The five-magnets speaker is driven by a NXP Smart AMP, making it 140% louder with 42% less distortion.
The ASUS ZenFone AR can produce output that is certified high-resolution audio, for compatible deices, at four times CD quality (24-bit/192kHz). With a DTS Headphone:X, for example, you could enjoy virtual 7.1-channel surround sound.
Camera & Video
Photography - TriCam system
The ASUS ZenFone AR has a TriCam system, with three rear cameras. These includes a 23MP high-resolution camera, a motion tracking camera and a depth sensing camera.
With these cameras the phone can create a three dimensional model of its surroundings. The depth sensing camera uses an infrared (IR) projector to measure its distance from real-world objects and together with Tango, you can explore and enjoy augmented reality experiences.
The camera has a large f/2.0 aperture and IMX318 camera sensor for capturing more light and photography is aided with a 0.03 seconds TriTech laser autofocus with subject tracking and Zero Shutter lag.
Shooting modes includes the impressive 92MP Super Resolution technology, which creates detailed and beautiful photos. Further shooting modes includes Low Light Mode, Real Time Beautification Mode, Depth of Field Mode, Selfie Panorama, GIF Animation Mode, Smart Remove Mode, Time Lapse Mode and Time Rewind Mode.
The camera also has a 32 second long exposure, RAW file support and 4K video recording. The secondary (selfie) camera has an 8MP resolution, 85˚ wide-viewing angle and a Dual-LED real tone flash.
Power - BoostMaster
The high-capacity 3,300mAh battery can be charged with BoostMaster Fast Charging, using technologies such as PowerDelivery 2.0, Quick Charge 3.0 and the USB Type-C port. Together, these can bring a flat battery to 60% charge in 39 minutes.
Next review: Huawei Mate 9 Pro review
Written by: Michael Brown
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