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Probably the most-leaked device at CES 2017 so far has been the Asus ZenFone AR, through no fault of the Taiwanese company. Partner Qualcomm revealed much of the details in a blog post touting the use of its Snapdragon 821 chipset, and infamous leaker Evan Blass (evleaks) added front and back press renders of the phone. The key part that was missing was a release timeframe, which we now have: Q2 2017.
The ZenFone AR stands out as the first smartphone that will support both of Google’s Daydream and Tango platforms, and is only the second to support the latter (Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro was the first). Daydream is a virtual reality (VR) platform built into Android 7.0 Nougat and above. Tango is an augmented reality (AR) platform that detects users’ positions relative to places and objects around them without using GPS or other external signals.
Asus states the phone “was developed in close cooperation with Google to deliver the best user experience” using both AR and VR technologies. For both platforms, content is still lacking — Asus and Google will be working to bring more apps to the market.
ASUS ZenFone AR (2nd Google Tango phone) pic.twitter.com/ctKQ9IKfeC
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) January 2, 2017
For VR, Asus points to the phone’s 5.7-inch WQHD (1440 x 2560 resolution) screen and high-contrast super AMOLED technology that enhances the 3D effect. The device can be used as a VR display mounted in the Daydream View headset.
For AR, the phone has a set of sensors and computer vision software for interpreting images, videos, space, and motion. Tango allows the ZenFone AR to offer motion tracking, depth perception, and area learning so that it can detect how far it is away from a floor, wall, or an object and understand where it is moving in three-dimensional space.
The Zenfone AR is powered by a Snapdragon 821 processor, like the Google Pixel, as well as an Adreno 530 GPU and 6GB of RAM. The ZenFone AR also has a vapor cooling system to prevent overheating, a common issue when powering AR and VR experiences.
The phone features a PixelMaster 3.0 camera system, a Sony IMX318 sensor, and TriTech Autofocus system. The camera has a few special modes: 4-axis OIS photo, 3-axis EIS video stabilization, Super Resolution (92MP photos by capturing and combining four native 23MP photos), low light, and 4K video recording. You can also expect support for Hi-Res Audio, DTS virtual surround sound, and a 5-magnet speaker.
If you’re fascinated with mobile AR and VR, or a developer interested in both, this phone looks like a solid bet. The only missing piece of the puzzle is pricing, which will be unveiled later this year.