The first Tango smartphone, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro was remarkable and well-received by those who had been waiting for it. Now, the second smartphone in that series, the Asus Zenfone AR has been officially announced at the CES 2017 event.
The Zenfone AR is more spectacular than the Phab 2 Pro in that it is not only compatible with the Tango AR platform; it is also compatible with Google’s Daydream VR platform, making it the first smartphone to support both platforms at the same time.
Therefore, once you have the Zenfone AR, you don’t need to purchase high-end headsets for augmented and virtual reality separately, as you have them all in one place in the Zenfone AR.
There are many other spectacular features of the Zenfone AR which we shall examine in the review below.
Asus Zenfone AR Specifications, Review and Highlights
Storage & Performance
Let’s start with the most amazing feature; the Zenfone AR comes with a whopping 8GB RAM capacity, the largest ever in a smartphone. The highest OEMs have gone in the past is 6GB of RAM which is present in flagship smartphones like the Oneplus 3T, so the Zenfone AR coming with 8GB of RAM brings smartphones to the level of laptops and desktop computers.
For those that feel that 8GB of RAM is too much power for a smartphone, there is a 6GB RAM variant of the Zenfone AR and the smartphone comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB and 256GB internal storage versions, all expandable and using the UFS 2.0 technology.
In terms of processor, the Asus Zenfone AR is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor with a speed of 2.3GHz and an Adreno 530 GPU handling the graphics operations on the device. Many people — including me — are wondering why the new Snapdragon 835 processor wasn’t used, but that is a story for another day.
To the next amazing feature, the Asus Zenfone AR comes with a total of four cameras; a 23MP main camera at the rear with a motion-tracking camera and a depth-sensing camera at its sides, and an 8MP camera completing the setup at the front. If you think you’ve seen it all with smartphones with dual rear camera setups, then the Zenfone AR would surely shock you.
The rear also comes with a dual-tone LED flash and the main camera uses a Sony IMX 318 sensor and 6P Largan lens, and has a f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis OIS, 3-axis EIS and Laser Autofocus.
The 8MP selfie camera has a f/2.0 aperture and 85-degree wide-angle lens which provides a more immersive selfie experience.
AR and VR wouldn’t be complete without a very good audio setup, so the Asus Zenfone AR packs a built-in Mono speaker with five magnets and uses ASUS’ SonicMaster 3.0 audio technology. It also has a DTS Headphone: X for high-quality virtual surround sound along with other features and packages to make your audio experience a memorable one.
Display & Design
The Zenfone AR ranks in the phablet section with a 5.7-inch QHD display made with Super AMOLED panels and protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The phone retains the design language of Asus smartphones in the Zenfone series.
The smartphone has a hybrid dual micro+nano SIM slot which is not surprising considering all its internals. It includes supports for 4G Voice over LTE and super-fast WiFi 802.11 ac 2×2 MIMO with a speed of 5GHz. A USB Type-C port is present to give the phone USB OTG support and make it easier and faster to charge the device and transfer files to and from other devices.
The Zenfone AR packs a 3300mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging technology. Even though I would have preferred a bigger battery inside the smartphone, the fast that it supports fast charging is enough consolation.
Software & Hardware
The Asus Zenfone AR features a fingerprint sensor which is embedded into its home button since there’s no more space at the rear to contain it. Since the smartphone supports AR and VR, it comes with an array of sensors including a gyroscope, proximity sensor, compass and accelerometer.
On the software side, the Asus Zenfone AR boots ZenUI 3.0 which is built on Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. It couldn’t have come with a lower version of Android since Daydream VR is supported by Android 7.0 and above only.
Asus Zenfone AR Full Phone Specifications
- 2G: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900.
- USA – HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100.
- EMEA – HSDPA 850 / 1700(AWS) / 1900 / 2100.
- 4G: LTE.
- Network Speed:
- HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps.
- LTE-A (3CA) Cat12 600/75 Mbps.
- SIM Type: Hybrid Micro + Nano / microSD Slot.
- OS: Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 3.0.
Design & Display
- Dimensions: 158.7 * 77.7 * 9 mm.
- Weight: 170g.
- Display size: 5.7 inches.
- Display Resolution: 2560 * 1440 pixels (Quad HD).
- Display Technology: Super AMOLED Capacitive touchscreen.
- Build: Metal aluminium design.
- Form Factor: Touchscreen Bar.
- Colours: Charcoal Black with leather finish .
- Processor Name/Technology: 64-bit Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 821.
- Processor Speed: 2.35GHz.
- Number of Processor Cores: Quad-core.
- Graphics Processor: Adreno 530.
- RAM: 6GB/8GB.
- Internal Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB/256GB.
- External Storage: microSD.
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Light, Proximity, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyroscope, Compass.
- Rear: 23MP Main, Motion-tracking camera (x1), Depth-sensing camera (x1).
- Camera Features: f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis OIS, 3x optical zoom, phase detection autofocus, 1/2.6″ sensor size, 1 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection.
- LED Flash: Yes, Dual-tone.
- Video recording: Yes, 1080p.
- Front-facing: 8MP with f/2.0 aperture & 85-degree wide-viewing angle.
- Music Support: AAC, AMR, MP2, MP3, M4A, MKA.
- Loudspeaker: Yes.
- Audio Technology:
- Built-in Mono 5 magnet speaker, ASUS SonicMaster 3.0, DTS Headphone: X for virtual 7.1 surround sound Hi-Res Audio 192kHz/24-bit standard, NXP Smart AMP technology
- Video Support: MP4/MPEG4/H.263/H.264 player..
- FM Radio: No.
- Bluetooth: v4.2.
- Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, LE.
- WiFi: Dual-band 5GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot.
- GPS: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS.
- USB: USB Type-C.
- USB OTG: Yes.
- NFC: Yes.
- 3.5mm audio jack: Yes.
- Battery Capacity: 3300mAh.
- Battery Technology: Li-ion.
- Removable? Yes.
- Charging: Fast Charge – Qualcomm Quick Charge. 3.0
- Power Management: Nougat’s Battery Saving mode.
- Extra Features: –
- Launch Date: January 5, 2017.
- Availability: TBA.
- Sales stores/platforms: TBA.
Availability and Price of Asus Zenfone AR in China, Nigeria, Kenya & Ghana
The Asus Zenfone AR would be available for sale from the second quarter of 2017, and would come in Charcoal Black colour. We don’t know how much it would cost yet.