The first Project Tango phone goes on sale next month

Lenovo's Phab2 Pro is almost here.

Project Ara is no more, but that doesn't mean Google's weirder smartphone ambitions are all dead and buried. Project Tango -- a push to put 3D mapping in a smartphone -- is still alive and well, thanks to Lenovo. Speaking to CNET, Google's Clay Bavor confirmed that the Phab2 Pro should be coming out next month. The phone promises to track your surroundings and then, augmented reality style, display content that looks like it's right in front of you. With this, you could visualize new furniture in your home, or shoot aliens that appear to be coming out of the walls.

We've tinkered with Project Tango before. My colleague Chris Velazco, for instance, used one of Google's developer tablets in Barcelona. Stepping inside the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, he could tap on points of interest and access additional information. A virtual path of breadcrumbs led him through the various exhibits, and a profile system meant he could pick out other visitors in the crowd -- a useful feature for parents.

While intriguing, Project Tango has always felt like an R&D project, destined to fade away after a few modest prototypes. The Phab2 Pro could change that perception, however. It's consumer hardware -- not a weird, bulky tablet or accessory. The phone is large though, with a 6.4-inch display and a 4050 mAh battery buried inside. At $499, it's also expensive. For the same money you could buy a phone that's more elegant and powerful (the Phab2 Pro uses a Snapdragon 652). Still, it's proof that Tango can be miniaturized without creating a truly horrific Frankenphone.