- Christian De Looper , Digital Trends
Augmented reality can't quite save Asus' Zenfone AR from its boring design and excessive price.
- Chris Velazco , Engadget
ASUS's ZenFone AR is the second Tango phone on the market, and it's a big improvement for people itching to try augmented reality.
- Crisp, bright display
- Tons of storage space
- Good performance
- Excellent camera
- Project Tango support
- Google Daydream support
- Poor app selection for Tango/Daydream content
- So-so battery life
Google’s Project Tango has seen one certified device to date—the Lenovo Phab2. ASUS’s latest release brings Tango goodness to a more portable device that includes updated specs and a premium design.
But does the experience justify the price? Reviewers have augmented their world and strapped on headsets to see what they think.
Let’s see what they have to say!
Out of the gate, the design and materials used for the ZenFone AR impressed reviewers. The metal edges and leather-like back provided a sturdy feeling and plenty of grip. However, the phone is not IP rated, so be careful around water.
Heading around front, reviews stay positive. The 5.7-inch 1440-by-2560 AMOLED display earned praise for it’s inky blacks and excellent contrast. Reviewers had no issues with noticing pixels or image crispness—even when strapped into a Google Daydream headset. They also praised the phone for its brightness, noting that it was easy to see when outdoors.
Powering those pixels, you’ll find a quad-core 2.35Ghz Snapdragon 821 processor. While it’s not the fastest processor available in 2017, pairing it with 6 or 8GB of RAM satisfied most reviewers.
Digital Trends noted, “Virtual objects in AR mode respond quickly to interaction, though we did encounter some stutters.” However, for everything else, including graphics-intensive games and multitasking, reviews are great.
Depending on the model, the phone offers between 32 and 256GB of internal storage. If you should need more, microSD support makes it easy to add up to 2TB more room for your apps, games, music and video.
One area where reviewers weren’t as pleased with the phone is the software. While it ships with Android 7.1.1 Nougat—and Oreo support is promises—ASUS’s ZenUI didn’t suit most reviewers. Engadget summed up opinions well saying, “Some people will surely appreciate all of the options ASUS offers here, but fans of stock Android will want to run, not walk, away from this thing.”
That said, there was no complaints about bloatware—even with carrier branded phones.
The phone features a powerful camera and sensors used to power the Tango AR features. But reviewers also found it great for photography. The 23MP rear camera includes three different focusing methods and optical image stabilization. The front-facing 8MP lens is simpler, but still produced clear shots in decent lighting.
Talking about the cameras, SlashGear said, “The Pixel has one of the best smartphone-based cameras in the world right this minute and ASUS ZenFone AR is one of the few devices whose camera comes close.”
But fancy features and powerful specs don’t mean anything if the phone can’t last through a day. And, unfortunately, reviewers had mixed experiences for battery life. They agreed that for light usage, a full day on a single charge is possible. But many of them complained that even a few hours of VR and AR use and they’d need to search for a charger to last the day.
Fortunately, the included BoostMaster Fast Charging support means that the phone is compatible with nearly every fast charging system available. The charger included in the box saw top-offs of 50% or more in only 30 minutes.
Despite this praise, reviewers were still hesitant to recommend the phone for two reasons.
The first is the price. The phone costs as much as some of this years flagship releases without the specs to match.
The second is software. While the phone is the first to support both Google Daydream and Project Tango in a single device, reviewers didn’t find many compelling apps on either platform.
In the end, if you’re looking for performance, there’s better value elsewhere. And if you’re looking for an exceptional AR/VR experience, the market isn’t quite there yet.
Reviews (6.9/10 Avg. rating)
You know when you've been Tango'd
Feels like a phone for early adopters
Poor battery life quickly brings you back to reality
Quick performance, battery life is awful
For augmented reality and virtual reality enthusiasts
Gimmicky augmented reality features are not worth the asking price
Fine software build and hardware that’s quite top-notch
A 'better' Tango phone doesn't mean much
A fascinating foray into augmented reality, but it nowhere near justifies its crazy price
AR experience still feels unpolished
Darn, there are no reviews yet for this phone.
Manuals / User Guides
- Asus ZenFone AR Manual (PDF)
Visit the Asus ZenFone AR Q&A Forum to ask the community a question or help others.Share / Embed