Here's a close-up look at the Asus ZenFone AR - the first phone with support for Daydream and Tango
As the week moves on, the happenings here at CES 2017 are getting more and more exciting. Mobile-related news has been fairly light so far, but Asus took the stage today to take the wraps off of two new handsets - the ZenFone Zoom 3 and ZenFone AR. Both phones look quite exciting for their own unique reasons, but the most fascinating is easily that of the ZenFone AR. We got a chance to get up close and personal with the phone after Asus's initial announcement, and while our in-depth hands-on won't go live until this coming weekend, we were still able to pick up some initial thoughts of the hardware during the short time we got to play with it.
For starters, the name of the ZenFone AR is very telling of what the main goal is for the phone. The back of the ZenFone AR features three different cameras, with each one being used for a different purpose (depth and motion tracking and room mapping). This setup allows for Google's Tango augmented reality platform to run on the phone, creating for a similar experience that you would find with the likes of the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. However, in addition to this, the ZenFone AR can also be used with the Google Daydream View to explore virtual lands as well. It's the first phone to feature support for both of these platforms, and although we didn't get to go hands-on with these features during our time with them, we'll definitely dive deep into these experiences when it comes time for our full review.
Along with support for both Daydream and Tango, the ZenFone AR has a lot of other impressive tech that it's packing into it. The 5.7-inch 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED display that's present here looked quite impressive even under harsh ballroom lighting, and it should make Daydream apps and games look truly stunning when you make use of them. The processor being used inside of the ZenFone AR is that of the Snapdragon 821, but Asus is saying that they've partnered with Qualcomm to optimize the chipset to make it as efficient as possible when using AR and VR features. In our time with the phone, everything felt incredibly fast and snappy. Navigating through the UI felt fluid, apps opened quickly, and Asus's custom software on top of Android 7.0 Nougat is the best-looking iteration of the skin that we've seen yet.
The phone itself is nicely made and feels pretty good in the hand (despite it being tethered to the table and attached to a security alarm). The sides are made out of aluminum and a faux-leather material is present on the backhand side, and while it might not be jaw-dropping, it does stand out from the crowd of all-aluminum slates we've been seeing as of late. It isn't our absolute favorite design, but it still looks quite good.
The Asus ZenFone AR is slated to come out sometime in Q2 of 2017, and we'll be publishing our full hands-on of the phone later on in the week. Be sure to ask any questions in the comments below so we can address them prior to our additional use of the handset, and keep an eye out for the rest of our CES 2017 coverage!