Asus Zenfone AR bit.ly/asus430
At first glance, the Asus Zenfone AR looks like a difficult product to sell. It costs an eye-opening £800 and it doesn’t even come with the latest generation of processor – and yet it’s an intriguing device. It’s the first phone to be certified for the Google Tango augmented-reality (AR) and Google Daydream virtual-reality ( VR) platforms, and as such it represents an important step forwards for this technology.
Hype aside, the Zenfone AR is a pretty standard Android smartphone. It’s a big device, with a 5.7in Super AMOLED display, runs Android 7 Nougat and has a Snapdragon 821 processor with 6GB of RAM. Its main selling point is the rather complicated camera cluster on the rear of the phone. This consists of two camera lenses (one for capturing image data, the other for capturing motion), an infrared laser autofocus sensor and an infrared depth-sensing camera, and offers an impressive resolution of 23-megapixels. It’s these three cameras when used together that unleash the Tango experience. The phone uses its sensors to place digital objects in real-world scenes and to bring the real world into the digital arena. On one level, it’s pretty fri frivolous. There are various games you can try that place virtual elements on nearby surfaces, including Sca Scalextric-style tracks on the floor. Mor More practical apps are also available to download from the Google Tango app app, however. For example, you can mea measure items in the distance without a mmeasuring tape, and aim the camera at walls, floors and ceilings to create a quick floor plan.
The question, then, is whether anyone would pay £800 for a phone just to use these apps. The answer is probably no. It’s an interesting demonstration of a very intriguing new technology, but without the killer app to complement it, you’re better off concentrating on getting the best phone you can for your money, rather than an expensive one that currently offers little more than novelty value.