Arc Mobile Memo looks and feels a lot like Samsung Galaxy Note2; That's the first thing that entered my mind when I lifted the massive device out of its tray.
The back part is especially reminiscent of that of the Korean company's 2012 flagship phablet. It has the same rounded corners, glazed finished, faux metal rim, position of camera and LED flash, as well as same "slot spot" for the stylus.
Arc Mobile Memo may not have the same powerhouse innards, unique note-taking software, and stellar imaging capabilities of the best-selling phablet that inspired its design but the local company's flagship offering is by no means a device that anyone can just easily brush off.
Priced at only Php 6,299, Arc Mobile Memo could very well be the most affordable 5.3-inch Quad Core phablet that you can get in the Philippines as of writing -- making it an ideal device for budget-conscious gadget lovers who want to experience Android on a bigger display.
Apart from the 5.3 inch QHD TFT display and the 1.2 GHz Quad Core ARM Cortex A7 and PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU based MediaTek MT6589 chipset running Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean operating system with stock user interface, other key technical specifications of Memo include 1 GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (1.77 GB User Available) expandable via microSD card slot, an 8 MegaPixel autofocus camera with LED flash, 2 MegaPixel front cam, 720p HD video recorder, FM Radio, Dual SIM Dual Standy capability, and WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G connectivity support.
Arc Mobile Memo also comes with this stylus, which you can use to navigate the handset if you don't want fingerprint smudges on the capacitive glass touchscreen. It also works with drawing and note-taking applications like Scribbler, Floating Draw or Sketchbook Mobile Express that you can download from Google Play Store.
The phablet comes in this very simple paper packaging with a plastic tray cradling the device.
Inside the box, you will find the Arc Mobile Memo itself, the 2,000 mAh Li-Ion battery pack, charger, microUSB to USB connector cable, user manual, the stylus (tucked in its slot at the back of the phablet), and the free screen protector.
Arc Mobile made several compromises to keep the price of Memo low. Most noticeable of which is the use of Vertical Alignment display panel on the device, which - simply put - looks less vibrant (regardless of the viewing angle) than the IPS panel found on more expensive releases like the O+ 8.15 or Starmobile Knight. Also, the company passed on a scratch-resistant glass touchscreen so I would really advise that you install the screen protector as soon as you unbox the phablet.
As mentioned above, Arc Mobile Memo has two cameras: An 8 MegaPixel autofocus camera with LED flash (and BSI sensor) and a 2 MegaPixel front cam (without backside illuminated sensor). I've been receiving reports that the back or main camera is merely interpolated from a 5 MegaPixel shooter, nonetheless, the images that I took using it prove to be quite good.
I always say that almost any 5 or 8 MegaPixel camera will deliver great shots outdoors or under good lighting condition. The real challenge is to take clear and crisp shots indoor or in poor to low light settings. Check out these sample photos, all taken with flash:
I want to note though that the camera takes a while to focus on a subject in low light settings. There's also a bit of a shutter-lag but it isn't all that bothersome.
HD video recording performance is largely the same as that of image capture. Memo takes great looking clips outdoors but videos taken indoors or in poor lighting tend to look a bit grainy and washed out. Nevertheless, HD video playback - as expected - is very smooth. It also helps that the loud speaker at the back emits clear and crisp sound even at full volume, which makes video viewing sans earphones more enjoyable.
The 2MP front-cam is said to be interpolated from a VGA shooter. Frankly, it delivers below average shots even in good lighting conditions. I would suggest that you just install LGCamera app (available for free at Google Play Store) so you can use the phone's volume buttons to take selfies using the main camera.
But if there's anything that Arc Mobile didn't skimp on in this release, it's definitely the phablet's innards. The combination of the Quad Core MT6589 chipset and the 1GB of RAM - the same combo found in more expensive releases by local companies - really deliver a buttery smooth mobile experience whether you're browsing the internet or playing games.
Arc Mobile Memo's high Antutu Benchmark score of 13,588 and 3,960 Quadrant Standard Test result are pretty standard for handsets running on the same processor and amount of RAM. These merely reflect the kind of performance that the phablet gives. Playing Temple Run 2 (as well as Zombie Tsunami and Raging Thunder 2) on the device, for instance, is stutter-free; Touch-response is likewise instantaneous.
Now, in terms of uptime, Memo gives me around 9 to 10 hours of regular use with roughly 5 hours of web browsing. I'd say the battery life is good enough not to make you charge the phone in the middle of the day in your office if you leave your house in the morning with 100% battery.
Considering Arc Mobile Memo's very affordable Php 6,299 price tag, it's really hard to dwell or nitpick on the phablet's limitations. All things considered, Memo gives you far more value than the amount of money that you shell out for it. And in my book, this makes it a device worth recommending. I give it 9 out of 10 TP Stars.