Asus ZenFone AR first impressions: Flagship hardware combined with innovative software

Asus ZenFone AR is the world's first VR enabled and Daydream ready smartphone

Asus ZenFone AR First Impressions - GIZBOT

Asus finally took the wraps off their latest and most interesting Android smartphone- Asus ZenFone AR in the Indian market. ZenFone AR is the world's first mobile device that is certified for both Tango (augmented reality) and Daydream VR (virtual reality). It brings forth the unique combination of duo to create some interesting AR and VR setups in order to enhance the end user experience.

Asus ZenFone AR first impressions

And as far as specifications are concerned, ZenFone AR is backed by an abundant 8GB RAM paired with Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 CPU and sports a 5.7-inch WQHD Super AMOLED screen. There's a 23MP rear camera backed by Asus TriCam technology that comes equipped with RAW support, 4K video recording, OIS and EIS to deliver on photography.

We tested the high-end handset during the launch event in New Delhi and here's what we have to say about the new smartphone.

Design and Display: Sleek metal-clad design supporting a crisp 2K AMOLED screen

Despite carrying a large 5.7-inch screen, Asus ZenFone AR does not feel bulky and can be used with one hand. The smartphone is quite sleek, 4.6mm at its thinnest point and weighs 170 grams.

Asus ZenFone AR has an aluminum alloy frame with sandblasted finish that firmly holds the device together. The rear side has the same burnished leather finish that we have seen previously in ZenFone Zoom.

The TriCam 23MP camera module placed at the rear side looks quite slick and gives the handset a unique identity. The interesting camera module accompanied with a premium leather finish is bound to turn heads as soon as you take the handset out from your pocket.

The volume rockers and power button are placed at the upper portion of the right side of the device. The bottom side of the device houses the 3.5-mm headphone jack, USB 2.0 Type-C reversible port and a speaker grill.

The front is largely occupied with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display. The screen offers a sharp WQHD resolution (2560x1440) delivering a pixel density of 515 ppi, which is quite required in the case of ZenFone AR as the handset supports both VR and AR ecosystem.

In my brief stint, I found the screen extremely sharp and vibrant. The touch response was smooth and even the minutest detail seemed quite crisp. We will evaluate the display's full potential in our comprehensive review of the handset.

Hardware: 8GB RAM and speedy Snapdragon 821 CPU

If I blindly follow the spec sheet, ZenFone AR does not offer the fastest processor in town. At a price-point of Rs. 50,000, the smartphone comes backed by an optimized version of Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 CPU to support VR and AR apps and to take care of everyday processing tasks. OnePlus 5 offers you the latest Snapdragon 835 CPU in under Rs. 40,000 price-point. But there's no VR and AR support with OnePlus 5.

It is too early to comment on the performance of the handset in real-life usage. So I will reserve my verdict until I stress test the ZenFone AR in our comprehensive review. As far as multitasking is concerned, the 8GB RAM will make sure you don't face any performance issues while running even the most memory intensive tasks.

Asus ZenFone AR comes with 128GB internal memory that can be expanded by upto 2TB via microSD card. The company is also betting big on the audio part of the handset. Asus ZenFone AR is backed by a 5-magnet speaker driven by an NXP smart-amp amplifier. Asus says that the speakers deliver distortion free high-fidelity sound even at high volumes. The smartphone also gets Hi-Res Audio support.



Camera: 23MP rear camera with 4K video recording support

The ZenFone AR features a 23MP rear camera powered by Sony's EXMOR RS IMX318 sensor. The camera uses 6-element Largan lens with Sapphire glass cover. It is based on f/2.0 aperture and comes equipped with OIS and EIS both. Sadly the optical image stabilization only kicks in for still images and electronic image stabilization will take care of shudders while you shoot videos.

The smartphone can capture 4K videos, comes with RAW image support and also has a dual real-tone LED flash light in support. The camera module placed on Asus ZenFone AR is quite interesting. The camera comes with TriTech autofocus that combines PDAF, 2nd generation Laser AF and contrast detection AF. Asus says that the camera has a fast focusing sped of 0.03 second.

In my brief time with the camera, I took some shots that looked quite detailed and crisp on the WQHD screen. I am quite eager to explore the full potential of ZenFone AR's 23MP rear camera as it seems pretty loaded with features and latest technology. Stay tuned on GIZBOT for our detailed camera test of Asus ZenFone AR.

The smartphone has an 8MP front facing camera with 84 degree wide angle and f2.0 aperture.

Software: Android 7.0 Nougat with a suite of AR and VR apps

Asus ZenFone AR runs on Android 7.0 Nougat and comes preloaded with a suite of AR and VR apps to let you experience the world of Tango and Daydream. The company showed a live demo of BMW i Visualiser that let you customize a life-sized AR BMW i8 model hybrid car. You also get iStaging app, which gives you an idea of how AR shopping will be like.

The app lets you move and place life-like AR household objects so that you can get an idea of how your living room or bedroom will look like before you invest money in furniture. Besides, there's a whole suite of AR and VR apps that really makes ZenFone AR a one-of-its kind mobile device.

I tried two, three apps on the handset and the experience was quite immersive and unique. The crisp display really made the VR and AR apps come to life. We will put more emphasis on ZenFone AR's VR-AR capability in our full review of the handset.


Battery and Connectivity

Asus ZenFone AR is backed by 3,300 mAh battery unit that also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. The smartphone has FM radio, GPS, Bluetooth v4.2 and Wi-Fi, along with Wi-Fi Direct and hotspot as connectivity options.


Asus ZenFone AR is one-of-its kind mobile device. The handset shows us what the modern smartphones are capable of. It is backed by flagship hardware combined with the innovative Virtual reality and augmented reality ecosystem.

There are endless possibilities that can be explored with such a good combination of hardware and software, but the question is- Are you ready to spend half a lakh on a device which is AR and VR enabled? Something we will try to answer in our comprehensive review of the Asus ZenFone AR.


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