ZENFONE AR
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Asus Zenfone AR and VR together in one phone

Asus Zenfone AR is a smartphone that has been optimised for both Google Tango’s AR and Google Daydream’s VR. And it is the first device to be able to do that. Here is our full review of the Asus Zenfone AR smartphone.

Asus Zenfone AR specifications:

  • Google Tango AR and Daydream VR support
  • 5.7-inch WQHD display
  • Snapdragon 821
  • 8GB RAM
  • USB-C
  • 3,300 mAh battery
  • 23-megapixel camera w/ f/2.0 lens
  • Motion and depth sensors

It comes with the Google Daydream View headset if you pre-order from Asus, which helps to take at least one spike out of the porcupine attack-like sting of the price.

Asus Zenfone AR price in India: Rs 49,999

DESIGN AND DISPLAY:

  • Big, bold, high-res 5.7-inch OLED screen
  • Stainless steel sides, faux-leather back
  • Front-mounted fingerprint scanner

8GB ASUS ZenFone ARLenovo might have been first out of the gate with a Tango-ready phone, but the Phab 2 Pro was a 6.4in monster – you needed fingers like yardsticks to use it. The ZenFone AR is far easier to handle.

OK, so it’s not exactly a featherweight at 170g, but that’s light enough that you won’t need a neck massage after a Daydream View session.

That’s partly down to the leather-like back, which ditches metal for a lighter, grippier finish. With no Samsung-style fake stitching, it actually looks pretty classy, and stopped butterfingers here from dropping it on more than one occasion.

A metal frame keeps everything sandwiched firmly together at the sides, but now that the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 have started banishing the bezels, the ZenFone’s chunky screen surround up front is looking a little out of date – even if it does leave room for a handy fingerprint sensor beneath the display.

Asus Zenfone AR virtual reality review

My first tryst with smartphone virtual reality was when Samsung launched its Gear VR a couple of years back. Well, things have moved forward and the Asus Zenfone AR smartphone is made to work with the Google Daydream Kit, which includes the headset and controller. On the phone, Daydream as well as a bunch of other VR apps are preloaded. But obviously the best experience is on Daydream as it is a full platform and not just a one-trick app.

ZENFONE VIRTUALThe Asus Zenfone AR uses a WQHD (2560x1440p) Super AMOLED display to ensure users get a good VR experience. The goodness of this display is visible as soon as you pop the headset on with the starlit Google Daydream sky on view. In fact, this was such a soothing experience that I kept this on for a while with no content playing.

However, with content playing I had a bit of an issue with clarity, given that I also wear spectacles. I was always thirsting for more sharpness on all the apps that I played. I guess this could also be because most of this content is being streamed in.

SOUND

The single speaker does a great job with podcasts, YouTube videos and even Netflix streaming shows, but you’ll still want to plug a pair of headphones in for any critical listening. Good job Asus has found space for a 3.5mm headphone port.

CAMERA

  • Very versatile high-resolution camera
  • Quick and feature-packed
  • Tri-camera setup not used well for photos

CAMERA ASUS ZENFONE ARThe Asus Zenfone AR has a rear camera with seriously impressive-sounding specs. It has a tri-camera setup on the back led by a 23MP main camera, a Sony IMX318. As it’s a 4:3 shaped sensor, you’ll actually take 16MP shots if you shoot widescreen.

Top features of the camera include optical image stabilization for good low-light photo quality and a super resolution mode that merges several exposures to make a huge 92MP image.

This bit about the phone was the real revelation. The phone’s rear camera packs a lot of preset modes as with other Asus phones. The depth of field mode is what really fascinated me as it came up with some real stunners, though despite its three camera setup for AR this does not have a second camera to assist in photography.

Battery life

  • Somewhat poorer battery life than its rivals
  • Fast USB-C charging

The Asus Zenfone AR has a 3,300mAh battery. As usual for a new high-end phone, you can’t remove it and it’s speedily charged using a USB-C port on the bottom.

VERDICT

When I started reviewing the phone for its AR and VR capabilities, it dawned on me that this is a pretty good Android phone overall with good features and dependable performance. Given its good design quotient with faux leather back and metallic sides, along with the subdued Zen UI and high quality camera, I would suggest that you should consider this phone as a good all-round Android option.

While I would recommend the phone for its overall capabilities, I am not sure it is time yet to buy a phone just for AR or VR. For anyone to do that these technologies have to be able to offer more for the consumer in terms of usability and productivity. Also remember, this is not a cheap phone by any standards, thankfully Asus has packed in only premium features in the phone.

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