Apparently the secret's out. After months of Asus holding its cards tightly to its chest, pricing on the upcoming Asus Zenfone AR has been announced by way of Verizon. The carrier, which will be the exclusive provider of the VR- and AR-powered phone, lists the ZenFone AR for $648 outright or $27 a month.
The first smartphone to feature both augmented and virtual reality abilities, the Zenfone AR has been something of an anomaly since it was first revealed at CES 2017. The latest phone maker to partner with Google, Asus incorporated both Google's Project Tango technology and Daydream View VR into the new phone.
To accommodate all that tech, Asus has outfitted the phone with some powerful hardware including a 2.4-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 6GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU. That's more than enough to support the three rear-mounted cameras (one of which is 23 megapixels), which are needed to perform the room mapping and rendering used for AR as well as support a smooth VR experience. The Zenfone AR also supports six sensors which take care of depth, motion and area tracking and image recognition.
According to Verizon, the 5.9-ounce, 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.35-inch device includes 128GB of onboard storage, an 8-megapixel front camera and a 2560 x 1440 WQHD AMOLED display. The ZenFone AR also has a microSD slot that can support a 2TB card.
Asus showed off several AR apps during my hands-on with the phone today (Aug. 2) including the Wayfair app, which lets you peruse through the retailer's large catalog of furniture and home decor to see how it looks in a given room. During my demo, I chose a cool-looking, faux antique wall lamp. After positioning the phone to line up on the wall, I tapped the phone and voila, a highly detailed rendering of the lamp appeared.
Another app let me tour and customize the interior and exterior of latest BMW i8, while my favorite app, Holo, had me petting a tiger and posing with Spiderman. Each app ran relatively smooth, and VR apps were just as seamless. However, after a couple of minutes, the ZenFone AR felt pretty warm.
Overall, the Asus Zenfone AR has the potential to give a needed push to AR and VR, two technologies that have been hovering on the brink of mainstream adoption. However, with the amount of power needed for each technology, I'm curious to see how the phone's battery holds up.