Asus has squeezed Tango’s camera-centric AR tech into the ZenFone AR, then added support for Google’s snazzy Daydream The Asus Zenfone AR is a great demo for augmented reality and Daydream virtual reality, even if it shows AR is begging for more great apps. However, it’s a tough sell when the phone costs as much as a Galaxy S8 Plus but has a less striking design, no water resistance and less power.
The Asus Zenfone AR is the first phone to be certified for both Google Tango and Daydream. These are the augmented reality and virtual reality platforms that set some standards for AR and VR on Android. So we’re not just left with barrel-scraping stuff that makes phone VR seem hokier than those blue and red 3D glasses that used to come free in cereal boxes.
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.
When the ZenFone AR first showed up, the Snapdragon 821 CPU it was rocking was cutting-edge. Now, though, it’s been superceded by the quicker, more efficient Snapdragon 835.
Are you going to notice the difference? Nah, probably not – Android 7 feels plenty smooth, and the quad-core chip still rocks along at a healthy 2.35GHz. There’s no stutter or lag when swiping between homescreens, and demanding 3D games like Asphalt 8 tick along at a healthy frame rate.
On paper, the ZenFone AR is behind the times, but it can still run with the rest of the Snapdragon 835-equipped crowd.
The UK-spec handset we tested has 6GB of RAM, which is more than enough for swapping between a handful of apps. Games, VR apps and AR experiences load pretty quickly, too. 64GB of on-board storage leaves plenty of room for your own downloads, and there’s a microSD card slot for adding more later if you run out.
The one downside to using last year’s chip is efficiency. The 821 uses more power than the newer 835, so the 3300mAh battery will drain a little quicker compared to its rivals.
You’ll still get a full day of use if you stick to web browsing, Facebook and music streaming, but only just. If you’re planning on hitting virtual reality hard, you’ll be out of juice in just a couple of hours.