The ZenFone AR feels better than it should

With AR and VR capabilities, ASUS' new smartphone could have been a bulky mess.
The ZenFone AR feels better than it should

Sponsored Links

Jessica Conditt
Jessica Conditt|@JessConditt|January 5, 2017 5:12 PM

ASUS had a subdued kind of CES this year, announcing just two new products on-stage during its press conference: the ZenFone AR and ZenFone 3 Zoom. Each phone offers its own brand of innovation. For instance, the ZenFone 3 Zoom has two cameras, a powerful 5,000mAh battery and a range of professional-grade photography options. However, the ZenFone AR is the real star of ASUS' show. It's the first phone to support both Google's Tango 3D-mapping tech and Daydream VR platform, paving the way for a new level of augmented reality.

Gallery: ZenFone AR hands-on | 11 Photos


The ZenFone AR is surprisingly thin and light for the amount of processing it has to do. It feels no different and no bulkier than, say, an iPhone 6 Plus. That's impressive, considering this thing has 8GB of RAM, three camera sensors and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 processor all wrapped up under a 5.7-inch AMOLED display.

The other Tango-enabled phone on the market, the Phab2 Pro, offers a counterpoint to the ZenFone AR's slim design: It's enormous and rather unwieldy.

Once it's placed in the Google Daydream VR headset, the ZenFone AR sticks out just a tad around the edges, but it fits comfortably overall. For AR, there's no headset required, and ASUS showed off a few apps that meld the virtual world with reality, including one from clothing company The Gap that lets users "try on" outfits on mannequins depicting various body types.

Turn on browser notifications to receive breaking news alerts from Engadget
You can disable notifications at any time in your settings menu.
Not now

We didn't get a chance to try out the AR capabilities for ourselves -- the demo units at CES were running an older version of Android that didn't support Tango -- but if it lives up to the hype, the ZenFone AR should be a solid introduction into the wild world of mixed reality.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.
The ZenFone AR feels better than it should