Last week, ASUS finally launched the Zenfone AR in the United States. The Google Tango-powered device is available unlocked from Amazon for $599, while Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile will bump the price up to $699 for some models.
The ASUS Zenfone AR is the second augmented reality smartphone ever to run Google’s Tango software, which enables all the applications and experiences that you can’t get on standard Android handsets.
Specifications are good, but the idea behind AR devices goes beyond technical components: it is more about their potential and the shift in user experience paradigms that comes with them. Here are a couple of things that might change with the widespread arrival of these phones.
AR will change everything from your living room to your classroom
Hardware on the ASUS’s Zenfone AR has some things worth noting, including a whopping 8 GB of RAM to handle daily Android tasks and live augmented reality workloads. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 helps with computing.
Storage is available starting at 64 GB up to 128 GB, and it is expandable using a microSD card. A 3,300 mAh battery powers the whole device, which packs a 5.7-inch Quad HD display (2,560 x 1,440).
The camera array on the Zenfone AR is also quite special, compounding a 23 MP main camera, a depth sensing camera, and a motion tracking camera on the rear of the device. The front camera is 8 MP, but cannot be used for augmented reality.
Applications like WayfairView and other similar services let you use the ASUS phone to place virtual furniture in your real living room so you can see how it looks and how much space it would take.
Others experiences like Expedition AR can be used by teachers in classrooms as a didactic resource to take students to new places and get hands-on contact with unimaginable things. More and more developers are creating this sort of experiences.
Accessible AR might be the key to widespread VR
Of course, perhaps the most important thing about devices like the ASUS Zenfone AR is that not only they are true pioneers of the technology they run on, but also harbingers of other media that might finally become a thing in the future.
We are, of course, talking about virtual reality. Tango apps, games, and experiences are the main selling point of the phone, but it is also true that ASUS has made this Android device Daydream-ready so you can immerse yourself even more in these computer-generated worlds and landscapes.
Starting at $599 and with a form factor that is not huge, the Zenfone AR might prove itself worthy of at least playing around with it, especially after rumors of the technology going mobile and more widespread sooner than we expected.