ASUS ZenFone AR Review: World's First Google Tango And Daydream VR Equipped Smartphone

ASUS ZenFone AR Design And Build Quality

The ASUS ZenFone AR we evaluated is an unlocked model with dual SIM support. It is compatible with GSM networks, including AT&T and T-Mobile, and with cellular providers that utilize GSM networks, such as Straight Talk, Walmart Family Mobile, MetroPCS, Simple Mobile, Brightspot, Net10, h20 Wireless, and Cricket Wireless. This phone does not work with CDMA networks, which means it's a no-go for users on Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular.

ASUS ZenFone AR Display

In some respects, the display is the smartphone, as it is the main thing you will look at and interact with whenever using it. In that regard, ASUS hit a home run here—the ZenFone AR sports a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 2560x1440 (WHQD) resolution, protected with Corning's scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 4. Why not Gorilla Glass 5, which has been available for over a year? That is a good question, and one we do not have an answer for. Protection aside, the display offers up bright and vibrant visuals with generous viewing angles. Given the attention the ZenFone AR places on AR and VR experiences, it was critical for ASUS to get the display right with this one, and as it pertains to display quality, it did.

We also like the overall form factor. The bezels on both sides of the handset are extremely thin at just 1.73mm, giving the handset a 79 percent screen-to-body ratio. Top and bottom bezels are bit larger, as ASUS resisted the growing trend to go with an almost all-screen front side with the home button either integrated into the display itself or moved to the back. The physical home button is present on the bottom-front, sandwiched between virtual navigation controls.

ASUS ZenFone AR Angled

The ZenFone AR has a premium look and feel, as many higher-end (and even some mid-range) handsets do these days. In this case, the ZenFone AR measures 6.24 (L) x 3.04 (W) x 0.18-0.35 (D) inches (158.7 x 77.4 x 4.6-8.9 millimeters) and weighs 5.99 ounces (170 grams). It offers enough heft to feel sturdy without coming off as heavy in the hand. And if you look closely, you will notice dual reflective beveled outlines on the front and back that give it and air of sophistication.

ASUS ZenFone AR Back

ASUS opted for a textured leather design on the backside of the ZenFone AR. The company's intention was to complement the phone's precision-milled metal frame while providing a tactile finish, and it certainly feels comfortable to hold. We are less keen on the stickers on the back, though they can be peeled off with ease. Overall, the leather backside is not all that exciting, though at least it is one less part that will be prone to cracks if dropped.

The only color option offered here is black. This gives the ZenFone AR an overall sleek and refined look in our opinion. That said, it would be nice if customers had other color options to choose from. Perhaps in time we will see more colors emerge, but for now, it is black or bust.

ASUS ZenFone AR Camera

A stainless steel plate protects the cameras on the backside of the ZenFone AR, of which there are three. The main one is a 23-megapixel PixelMaster 3.0 camera (Sony IMX 318 sensor) with an f/2.0 aperture. Mobile photographers are aided with a dual-LED flash and 4-axis optical image stabilization (OIS). The camera also features 3-axis electronic image stabilization to help with shaky videos, of which you can record in up to 4K at 30 frames per second. You can also take still photos when recording.

Next to the main camera is a depth-sensing camera with IR on the back, along with a motion tracking sensor. It takes all three to deliver Tango augmented reality experiences, which we will go into more detail later on.

Less interesting (though crucial for those all-important selfies) is an 8-megapixel camera (OV 8856 sensor) on the front of the phone, also with an f/2.0 aperture.

ASUS ZenFone AR Bottom

The shots above give a better view of the beveled border and edges of the ZenFone AR. And while perhaps tough to see in photos, there is a slight curvature to the backside of the device, though the display itself is flat.

ASUS ZenFone AR Side

ASUS ZenFone AR Side

There is a microSD card slot that doubles as a SIM port on the left side. You can install two SIMs if desired, though if you do that, you will not have room for a memory card. That should not be an issue for most people, since this particular SKU comes with 128GB of onboard storage. It is more of a consideration for the model with 64GB of storage.

Power and volume controls are both on the right side of the handset, with the power button on the bottom and volume rocker sitting above it. And on the bottom you will find a good old fashioned 3.5mm jack, USB-C port, and speaker grill, behind which sits a 5-magnet speaker.

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