Hardware

CES 2017: ASUS brings AR to its smartphones with Google Tango-powered ZenFone

At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, ASUS unveiled its new line of ZenFone smartphones, which include AR and VR support, and advanced camera hardware.

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Image: ASUS

The second Google Tango-powered smartphone has officially been unveiled as the ASUS ZenFone AR, which the company debuted alongside the ZenFone 3 Zoom at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The ZenFone AR is the first smartphone that supports both the Tango augmented reality (AR) technology and Google's Daydream virtual reality (VR) technology, according to a press release. The first phone to support Tango itself was the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, announced in late 2016.

For those unfamiliar, Tango helps to map a user's position in their physical environment, so that developers can build AR experiences relative to that particular environment, the release said. And Daydream supports the use of VR apps with the Google Daydream headset.

SEE: CES 2017 Special Coverage (CNET) | CES 2017 (TechRepublic) | CES 2017: The Big Trends for Business (ZDNet)

To qualify for use with Google's Tango, a device must have specific sensors and software that allow it to interpret the world around it. "Tango adds three new abilities to ZenFone AR: motion tracking, depth perception and area learning. Through these capabilities, Zenfone AR 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 release said.

The ZenFone AR uses a Snapdragon 821 processor, and has a high-resolution 5.7-inch screen. It's screen makes it a good option for use within the Daydream VR headset, as it adds to the immersiveness of VR apps, the release said.

ASUS also announced the ZenFone 3 Zoom, a smartphone designed for photography with long battery life. The 5.5-inch smartphone has a 5000mAh packed into a 7.9mm chassis, making it the world's thinnest phone to use such a battery, the release said.

Much like the iPhone 7, the ZenFone 3 Zoom utilizes a dual camera setup. According to the release it has a 12MP, f/1.7-aperture, 25mm wide-angle main lens, along with a dedicated 12MP, 56mm camera for instant 2.3X optical zoom. It also includes a portrait mode for depth-of-field shots with blurred backgrounds. The phone supports RAW files and can record 4K video.

In terms of battery life, the ZenFone 3 Zoom claims 40 days of standby power on 4G, and it also can be used as a power bank to charge other devices, the release said.

The ASUS ZenFone AR will be available in Q2 2017, while the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom will be available in February.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. At CES 2017, ASUS announced the new ZenFone AR, which offers support for both Google's Tango AR and Daydream VR technology.
  2. The ZenFone AR is the second phone to offer support for Tango, providing 3D mapping capabilities for use in AR apps.
  3. The ZenFone 3 Zoom is geared toward photography with a dual camera setup and support for RAW file format.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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