Lenovo Phab 2 Pro review

The first Tango phone is neat, but you don’t need it


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Tango is all about augmented reality, or in other words, inserting virtual objects into your real-world environment through the eyes of a smartphone. How does it do this? As you might have guessed, cameras and sensors. 

The accelerometer, gyroscope and rear-facing sensors work in tandem to gather visual information about your environment, like where the walls are, as well the position of the phone within that space. The Phab 2 Pro does all of the hard work and does it well, leaving you free to walk around and have some fun.

The motion sensor that helps Tango tick

But, how much fun is there to be had? That depends. It’s easy to be impressed with such a technology, especially if this is your first time experiencing it. Though like any new platform, Tango’s biggest problem is that it’s short on worthwhile experiences. Heck, Pokemon GO’s AR function is as entertaining as most of what’s available.

Sure, the library of apps is sure to grow, and the novelty of getting face-to-face with a dinosaur doesn’t really fade. And, yep, it’s pretty nifty to place a life-size appliance in my room just to see how it’d fit. But, it speaks volumes that the most fun we had with Tango involved inserting wrestlers and a Donald Trump impersonator into our world. 

Gaming experiences, like Ghostly Mansion, are fun, but limited in scope, mostly just working to show off the room mapping capabilities of Tango. But, in most cases, they highlight just how constrained the platform feels when limited to a phone screen. These experiences don’t allow for the level of escapism that, say, the Google Daydream View headset does.

There has been chatter of Google eventually bringing its AR and VR ventures together, and after seeing what Tango is capable of, it seems like the perfect fit. Currently, no mobile VR headsets support inside-out tracking (no external sensors required), so a Tango/Daydream-compatible phone and headset would really pave new ground.

But let’s keep focus on the now. Until more developers hop aboard the Tango train, the lasting appeal of its apps isn’t likely to sail past being anything but a mild diversion. 

Unless you like to be on the frontline of emerging technology, investing for Google’s AR feature alone currently isn’t worth it. On the flip side, if you have little ones roaming around, they’ll love Tango endlessly, and the Phab 2 Pro is a cheap way of getting in the door.

Here's some footage of a little dumb fun I had:

And, because I love wrestling man so much, here's another.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.