After two years of developing the real-time mapping technology, the first Project Tango smartphone is coming to the market in the form of the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. First announced at Lenovo Tech World 2016 alongside the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, the smartphone will provide users with augmented reality capabilities, allowing users to do anything from virtually re-decorating their front room to battling zombies in their bedroom. Here, we explain a little bit about what Project Tango is, along with the release date, pricing, features and spec of the “World’s first” Project Tango-enabled smartphone, the Lenovo Phab2 Pro. Also see: Best phones 2016
What is Project Tango?
Before we go any further, it’s probably best to explain just what Project Tango is, and why it’s such a big deal. Project Tango is, essentially, a Google project that allows smartphones to detect, map and ‘learn’ its position relative to the room/world around it without the use for external signals like Wi-Fi or GPS. It can also detect surfaces and obstacles within your environment, and can ‘recognise’ known environments.
But what does this mean for consumers at home? It opens a world of possibilities akin to the likes of Microsoft HoloLens, albeit via a smartphone instead of a futuristic head mounted display. It allows developers to create applications and experiences previously unachievable on a smartphone including real-time 3D mapping, measurement of physical spaces and even augmented reality gaming. Imagine being able to battle waves of zombies in your front room - cool, right?
The technology behind Project Tango has been in development for over two years, and has finally been implemented into a smartphone coming to the market this year – the Lenovo Phab2 Pro.
Lenovo Phab2 Pro release date and pricing: When is the Project Tango phone being released in the UK?
So, when can we get our hands on the first official Project Tango smartphone, the Lenovo Phab2 Pro? Despite it being announced recently, the smartphone isn’t due for launch until much later in 2016.
On 1 November it went on sale in the US from $499, and should ship within five to seven business days. There's no official word on UK pricing and availability yet, but we’ll update this section when we have more information.
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Lenovo Phab2 Pro features and spec
So, what does the Lenovo Phab2 Pro, the first Project Tango phone, have to offer? It boasts a larger-than-life 6.4in Quad HD display (2560x1440), making it an inch taller and half an inch wider (179.8 x 88.6 x 10.7mm) than the already pretty hefty iPhone 6s Plus, and weighs almost double at 259g. It’s 10.7mm thick, boasts an aluminium unibody, and will be available to buy in two colours – ‘champagne’ gold and ‘gunmetal’ grey.
Now we’ve got the design out of the way, it’s time to move onto what’s really interesting about this smartphone – what’s on the inside. In terms of processing power, the Phab2 Pro boasts an octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor coupled with a whopping 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. If that’s not enough for you, then you’ll be happy to know that the Phab2 Pro also features a Micro-SD card slot to expand the built-in storage of the smartphone by up to 256GB. It also has a huge 4050mAh battery to power all that technology, and features 2.4x ‘turbo charging’ so you won’t have to wait for hours for it to charge.
The smartphone also has three built-in microphones and Dolby Audio Capture 5.1 support, providing users with the ability to capture 5.1 channel surround sound audio complete with spatial capture and noise reduction. This provides videos and audio recordings with higher quality audio than with many other leading smartphones.
However, it’s in the camera department that the Phab2 Pro really comes into its own, as that’s where most of the Project Tango tech is housed. There are a whopping four cameras on the Phab2 Pro – a front facing 8Mp camera capable of 1080p video, along with a main rear-facing 16Mp camera capable of 2160p video, a depth-sensing camera and a motion camera (both also on the rear). As explained above, the special rear-camera setup enables positional tracking capabilities, along with motion tracking, depth perception and area learning, making it possible for the Phab2 Pro to analyse and map your environment, and even detect surfaces and obstacles.
This provides a lot of potential for AR and VR (if there’s a mobile VR viewer big enough!). There were a number of examples given during the announcement at Lenovo Tech World 2016, including the ability to preview any potential home improvements - from new wallpaper in the bedroom to a new light fixture in the living room - without even getting a brush out, using Lowe’s Home Improvement, an app out soon for Android. You can even raise, feed and train a virtual pet in your front room train in Raise, or battle phantom-like creatures in your living room in Phantogeist.
That’s only a few examples of what the Phab2 Pro will be capable of once it’s released in September 2016, and we imagine that developers will be releasing Project Tango-enabled apps in the months leading up to and beyond the launch of the smartphone.
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