Asus Zenfone AR Review: This Heralds Start For AR & VR on Mobile
Asus ZenFone AR supports DayDream headset for virtual reality without costing a bomb.
Augmented reality is slowly becoming the go-to technology for mobile manufacturers, ever since Apple and Google decided to work on their AR platforms.
Last year, Google had its focus set on virtual reality with Daydream, but that seems to be shifting towards a two-pronged approach with AR and VR for mobiles, with help of Tango and DayDream respectively.
The Asus ZenFone AR is one of the first hardware which provides both the platforms, without asking you to break the bank at Rs 49,999 (not as costly as the one-dimensional HTC Vive).
- AR and VR on mobile looks promising
- High-end hardware in tow
- Capable cameras
- Bright display
- Ergonomic design
- Average battery life (for its use)
- Phone needed latest SoC for faster performance
- Content availability limited right now
Like many promising trends, I was never sure if AR and VR could seamlessly work on mobile devices. But after using the ZenFone AR, there is hope. This phone is trying to be adventurous in the market, which otherwise, is mundane in terms of its approach. So, full marks to Asus for trying something different.
They’ve even opted for a size (5.7-inch) to make a device which makes the best use of AR and VR capabilities, along with the 2560x1440 pixels resolution. The overall display quality is bright, crisp and the content (both AR and VR) show up on the device in the way it was meant to be, the use of Super AMOLED panel clearly makes a difference with this one.
In terms of the hardware under the hood of the ZenFone AR, Asus claims to have gotten Qualcomm on board to optimise its Snapdragon 821 processor, just so that AR and VR applications work as advertised. Luckily enough, the phone manages to hold its fort in most of these tasks.
AR tasks can be done using apps, some of them which are pre-loaded, and for the rest, you can download it from the Tango app store. Developers involved in the business of AR and VR can make the best of this phone to test and design apps for the platforms.
But other than its hardware prowess, we found the camera quality of the ZenFone AR to be surprisingly good. With a 23-megapixel main unit, along with 4-axis OIS, the results were better than we expected.
Not too many chinks in the ZenFone AR’s armour, but it’s always worth highlighting that the use of a high-end display leads up to faster draining of battery.
While the 3300mAh unit can last for more than 10-15 hours on a single charge, but using the ZenFone AR for its primary strong points, and you’ll see the juice sipping out in a jiffy.
We did notice some heating pop on the phone, but that was confined to the unit we had received from Asus which was replaced right away. After that, the phone was noticeably stable, and performed at normal heat levels.
Even though the ZenFone AR is a power-packed device, supporting AR and VR, pricing the phone at Rs 49,999 means only those who’ve experienced AR before would consider going for this device, which will be a pity.
Why Buy It?
Asus ZenFone AR is a good beginning for AR and VR on a mobile. Bright and high-quality screen is ably supported by competent hardware.
With the help of Tango and DayDream, the ZenFone AR makes a good fist of what Asus had aspired to achieve with this device. The cameras alone offer excellent details, work in low-light to good effect, with the 4-axis OIS support, coming to the fore.
Developers will mostly find themselves at home, while using this phone for their application tasks. Virtual shopping could thrive from here on, and ZenFone AR-like devices could play a big role in sectors like retail and healthcare among others.
For everyone else, you should try playing NFS on this phone with the DayDream headset, to see the difference in proposition that Asus caters to with the ZenFone AR. We can’t wait to see how the next iteration of the ZenFone AR series (possibly with a bezel-less screen) work out.
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