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Arc Mobile Memo Review

Updated on December 19, 2014

Revisiting a dream

Ten months ago, people were willing to pay several thousand more than the price of the Cherry Mobile Titan and MyPhone A919 for a phone matching the specs of the Arc Mobile Memo. For locally branded Android phones at the time, there were only WVGA screens, screen sizes topped at 5.0", no quad core processors, no OGS screens, no one complained about 512 MB of RAM, 8 megapixel was high-end, and the Mediatek MTK6589 with its promise of "near-Galaxy S3 performance" seemed so far away due to delays in its production.

Fast forward almost a year later, and local brands have become bolder, crossing the price threshold of 10,000 Php, and aiming higher for the market exclusively owned by well-known brands. They now have MediaTek MTK6589-powered phones with 13 megapixel cameras, 5 megapixel "selfie cameras", OGS screens with thin profiles, sleek aluminum construction, 720p and even 1080p screens, and high profile celebrity endorsers seeking to convince you that if their new high-end phones are good enough for celebrities, they're more than good enough for you! Unfortunately, they don't actually use those phones. They use an iPhone. It's a bleak reminder of what these local phone brands will probably never have: a brand name.

Some of us though want improvements, but without "improvements" in price. Never mind the overly fancy features, some just like to keep it simple and want something good, because asking for something too good is asking for too much. This is exactly why lots of people buy cars like the Toyota Corolla Altis and Honda Civic, and not their bigger stablemates, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The asking price is too much, and you won't always get to enjoy the luxury features such as the panoramic sunroof, the big V6 engine, and a few others.

The Arc Mobile Memo is basically the phone we used to want and now it's at a price we used to get. Now, is it still good and would you still want it?

Design and Build Quality

Put simply, the Arc Mobile Memo looks almost exactly like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, with the exception of the front home capacitive button whereas the Galaxy Note 2 has a physical home button. This at least makes the Arc Mobile Memo not look like a clone, although from the rear you can easily mistake it for one. The chrome bumpers and all plastic body is similar, but the Memo doesn't have the same hyperglazed finish on the plastic like the Galaxy Note 2. The Memo went for a smooth, sandblasted look for its plastic and it does look pretty classy on the dark blue variant of the Memo. It also comes in white, but the white color puts additional the already wide bezels on the Memo.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Both dark blue and white variantsBoth dark blue and white variants
Both dark blue and white variants
Both dark blue and white variants
Both dark blue and white variants
Both dark blue and white variants
Notification LED
Notification LED
Facade with LED-backlit capacitive keys
Facade with LED-backlit capacitive keys

The design of the body isn't just copied, but the placement of the ports, stylus, buttons and everything else is virtually identical, so much so that you can actually purchase cases for the Galaxy Note 2 and use them on the Memo. With the Memo's dimensions of 151 x 80.5 x 9.5 mm, Galaxy Note 2 cases fit like a glove. The Memo's screen is only 5.3" though, which is why the bezels are thick.

Swisstech Samsung Galaxy Note 2 cases on the Arc Mobile Memo
Swisstech Samsung Galaxy Note 2 cases on the Arc Mobile Memo
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Volume controlsPower buttonRear camera, LED flash and 3.5 mm port
Volume controls
Volume controls
Power button
Power button
Rear camera, LED flash and 3.5 mm port
Rear camera, LED flash and 3.5 mm port
Size comparison
Size comparison

If you've handled a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 before, you know what to except from the Memo in terms of feel and handling. People with average sized or large hands won't find the Memo too large because of its ergonomic design, but those with smaller hands will find it a bit unwieldy to use with one hand. The construction and build quality isn't as good as that of a Galaxy Note 2, particularly because the Memo doesn't use Gorilla Glass or any high strength glass for that matter, so it doesn't feel as solid as Samsung's then-flagship phone. However, the Memo does look well-built and feels solid in hand, and there are no creaks when squeezing it tightly with one hand. Weight-wise it's just about the same as the Galaxy Note 2.

The Memo's dual SIM ports are both mini SIM which is the most common size, unlike the Arc Mobile Nitro 450QD which has one micro SIM and one mini SIM port.

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The Arc Mobile Memo already has a sort of screen protector attached out of the box to protect it. Another screen protector also comes with the box if you want to remove the plastic covering the screen. The Memo itself also has a slot at the bottom for the stylus. However, the stylus is just a rubber capacitive pen unlike the Wacom pen on the Galaxy Note 2.

Here is a checklist of what comes inside the box:

  • 1x Arc Mobile Memo
  • 1x 2000 mAh battery
  • 1x 1A charger
  • 1x USB cable
  • 1x Headset
  • 1x Screen protector
  • 1x User's manual/warranty card

Screen

The Arc Mobile Memo is equipped with a 5.3" qHD (960x540) screen that supports 5 point multitouch. The Memo uses a VA panel like the Cherry Mobile Titan. Unlike the Titan though, the VA panel on the Memo has much better response times. Since it uses a VA panel, viewing angles are good although they are not as good as an IPS or AMOLED. Contrast loss begins at around 50+ degrees off center, which is similar to many Sony Android phones since they also use VA panels (my old Sony Xperia Ion had a 720p VA panel, see my CM Omega HD review for reference). Non-OGS IPS screens like the one on the MyPhone A919i start to lose contrast at 65+ degrees off center. OGS IPS screens like the one on the iPhone 5 almost don't lose contrast even at extreme angles of 80+ degrees off center.

The video below compares the Arc Mobile Memo's viewing angles vs an OGS IPS and an AMOLED screen:

Left side viewing angle
Left side viewing angle
Right side viewing angle
Right side viewing angle
Bottom side viewing angle
Bottom side viewing angle
Top side viewing angle
Top side viewing angle

The screen is not OGS (one glass solution) meaning there is a gap between the glass and the panel, though frankly OGS screens are very uncommon in these price brackets. Currently, the cheapest phone with an OGS screen is the Cherry Mobile Omega HD at 7,999 Php. Backlight bleeding is usually a problem for non-OGS screens and backlight bleeding on the Memo is minimal and brightness is uniform. Light transmission is decent despite the gap and sunlight legibility is relatively good, though very intense sunlight will be problematic which is already a given. Only phones with OGS screens that use specially treated glass can weather very intense sunlight, like the screen on the iPhone 5. Nevertheless, it still requires higher brightness setting to be legible.

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100% screen brightness under sunlight50% screen brightness under sunlight
100% screen brightness under sunlight
100% screen brightness under sunlight
50% screen brightness under sunlight
50% screen brightness under sunlight

Thanks to the VA panel, the Memo's screen enjoys good static contrast meaning contrast is more or less the same regardless of backlight brightness. Color saturation and color temperature are almost spot on, with color temperature being just slightly cold which you wouldn't notice unless you placed it next to an LCD with spot on color temperature (the comparison with the IPS screen on the Vega No. 6 below will make it apparent). Gamma appears to be slightly increased which affects color accuracy a bit, though I surmise this was done to keep the screen from looking bland as a "natural look" isn't always the most impressive for many people. Combined with the good viewing angles, the screen on the Memo can be mistaken for an IPS when not viewed from extreme angles.

The screen size of 5.3" and resolution of 960x540 results in a PPI of 208. It does seem a bit low, but it is more than adequate to view desktop webpages fully zoomed out. The screen size itself sets this apart and some activities such as viewing webpages, watching videos and playing games are simply more enjoyable on a larger screen. Even compared to the Nitro 450QD which has a 960x450 screen at 4.5" that technically makes it sharper, the 5.3" screen through and through provides a better viewing experience. Even if just for surfing the web, the Memo's screen delivers and you won't find yourself having to constantly zoom in and out like on phones with smaller screens.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size

Performance

This is my third review of a phone equipped with a Mediatek MTK6589. A recap: The MTK6589 has four Cortex A7 cores at 1.2 Ghz and has PowerVR SGX544MP graphics at 286 Mhz. It is also manufactured at 28 nm meaning it is also more efficient than most Cortex A9 and A5-based SOCs like the MTK6577 and Qualcomm MSM8225 and MSM8225Q which are manufactured at 40 and 45 nm respectively.

The Arc Mobile Memo at 6,299 Php isn't the cheapest phone with a Mediatek MTK6589, but it is one of the cheapest, along with the Cherry Mobile Thunder 2.0 at 6,299 Php and Cherry Mobile Razor at 6,499 Php. Among local phone brands, the Mediatek MTK6589 is the fastest processor available sans the MTK6589T, which is basically an MTK6589 with its CPU overclocked to 1.5 Ghz and its GPU overclocked to 357 Mhz. The MTK6589T is recommended for use on phones with a 1080p screen. Regardless, the MTK6589 easily crushes the performance of the alternative quad core SOC from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon MSM8225Q. The MSM8225Q is the "cheap" quad core and has weak Cortex A5 CPUs and a dismal Adreno 203. Even the older MTK6577 offers better real world performance than the MSM8225Q. If performance is important to you, the MTK6589 is the processor to pick. As Qualcomm themselves say: "Better cores, not more cores".

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The Memo is also equipped with 1 GB of RAM and has around 650 MB of free RAM in optimum conditions allowing you to have a few applications reside and run in the background. i.e. downloading game files while you surf on your browser and have a 1080p movie in window mode. As with Android Jelly Bean, task killers are not recommended as they will deteriorate your RAM's I/O performance over time until you restart the device.

The Memo's screen resolution of 960x540 also makes it suitable for more hardcore gamers who demand smoother frame rates over sharper graphics. If there are games on 720p MTK6589 phones like the MyPhone A919i that don't run as smooth as you'd like, they will run smoother on the Memo. 720p (1280x720) is 79% more pixels than qHD (960x540), so games will run faster on a qHD screen.

Lastly, the MTK6589 is able to playback 1080p H.264 video without hiccups. Most 720p H.264 videos I've tested played with no problems using the hardware decoder, but some videos with specialized encoding (i.e. FASM) at 480p and 1080p displayed only a blank screen when using the hardware decoder. They played perfectly fine using the software decoder though. Like on the Nitro 450QD, the video hardware accelerator on the Memo must be missing some drivers as the MTK6589-based A919i was able to play the same videos using the hardware decoder. Below is the result of testing several HD videos on the Memo. MX Player was used for testing. Audio decoding is set to software as the hardware decoder on the MTK6589 cannot decode multi-channel audio.

 
1280x534 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.1, with CABAC, 5 reference frames
1280x528 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.1, with CABAC, 4 reference frames
1280x528 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.1, with CABAC, 8 reference frames
1920x800 @ 24 FPS, AVC High Profile L4.0, with CABAC, 5 reference frames
Video bitrate:
1362 Kbps
2270 Kbps
2911 Kbps
3703 Kbps
Audio:
448 Kbps, 6 channels AC-3
401 Kbps, 6 channels, AAC
395 Kbps, 6 channels, AAC
306 Kbps, 6 channels, AAC
Plays via hardware decoder:
Yes
Yes
Yes
No, black screen but audio plays
Plays via software decoder:
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
(HW) Has dropped frames:
No
No
No
No
(SW) Has dropped frames:
No
No
No
No

Camera

The Memo is equipped with an 8 megapixel BSI camera with an aperture of f/2.8. The image sensor used is actually an Omnivision OV5647 which is a 5 megapixel BSI sensor with a sensor size of 1/4" and a pixel size of 1.4 µm. The f/2.8 lens and BSI sensor would normally do well in picking up light even in bad lighting conditions, but compared to other 8 megapixel smartphones, this is just average. The MyPhone A919i has a f/2.4 lens just like the Apple iPhone 5 and the Cherry Mobile Omega HD has an impressive f/2.2 lens just like the Samsung Galaxy S4. Focal length is 4 mm which is typical and converted is approximately focal length 32 mm in 35 mm format.

The camera interface is almost completely identical to the one on the Arc Mobile Nitro 450QD, with the a single functional menu for both the still shot and video recording. Like on the MyPhone A919i, tapping on the video recording button will immediately start recording a video, which again crops the sensor since it only uses a portion of it. Again, this is slightly inconvenient because the FOV (field of view) when video recording is narrower than when taking still shots and this makes framing video tricky. Alas, this appears to be the case on the stock Android Jelly Bean camera and phones that crop their sensor when video recording will also experience a reduced FOV.

The Memo has plenty of features and has a virtually identical camera to the one on the Nitro 450QD except for ZSD (zero shutter delay) which the Memo doesn't have. It's not a problem though since the shutter on the Memo is very fast and will take the shot the moment you press the shutter. For the manual controls in normal shooting mode, you are able to adjust exposure (+/- 3 steps), color effect, scene, white balance, general image properties such as sharpness, hue, saturation, brightness and contrast. You can also adjust ISO to take better shots in low light. Even at ISO 1600, the Memo is still able to render the shot at full resolution whereas other phones are forced to render at lower resolutions at higher the ISO settings. There are no metering options though, but the default metering is center weighted and automatically switches to spot the moment you tap an area on the viewfinder.

Aside from the normal (manual) and auto-scene shooting modes, HDR is present and saves both regular and combined exposure shots to your gallery. Panorama shooting is intuitive and you can shoot from any direction you like: left to right, right to left, up to down, down to up. Multi-angle shot is also here and allows you to take multiple shots of a subject at different angles with one swoop of your camera. There is also "face beauty" which automatically detects faces and adjusts settings accordingly and similarly, "smile shot" mode automatically detects one or more faces in your viewfinder and automatically snaps the shutter when it detects a face smile -- perfect for group photos. Lastly, there is this new feature called the EV bracket shot mode which basically takes three shots at varying exposures. Ideally, this is useful if you intend to Photoshop your picture and manually create your own HDR photos instead of relying on your camera's auto HDR shooting mode.

The interpolation to 8 megapixels is well done on the Memo. It's difficult to tell even at micro detail level if it's interpolated or not. The post-processing is just right and doesn't suffer from excessive sharpening and denoise. Resolved detail at macro level is good and focus uniformity is high even when focusing on certain subjects. Color saturation is good while contrast is relatively low, though some people prefer lower contrast since it can be easily adjusted afterwards. Images with high contrast are hard to tweak, kind of like making salty soup less salty. Images have added hue, even in the viewfinder, and the output images are slightly cold, but not as cold as the A919i's. As a result for the high hue and slightly cold color temperature, the images have a slight green tinge to them, which thankfully can also be easily corrected in Photoshop. The images of the Memo are very similar to those made by the A919i in good lighting conditions, though the A919i's f/2.4 lens shows its advantage by retaining more detail as the lighting gets worse. i.e. sunny with few clouds to cloudy. The Memo's color temperature isn't anywhere near as cold as the A919i's though.

My main gripe with the camera is how it handles low light conditions given the already low light sensitivity. On auto setting, the Memo constantly sticks to an ISO level between 800 and 900 in low light even though it's clear the light sensitivity isn't enough, as evidenced by the excessive black clipping. Even in night mode, which automatically adjusts exposure in addition to ISO, the light sensitivity just isn't enough. You'll be forced to switch to ISO 1600 manually for shots in low light. This is a bit disappointing considering how well auto mode takes pictures in low light conditions on the Nitro 450QD.

ISO comparison
ISO comparison

Please note that all images shown below were taken on default settings.

Memo Sample Shots (Good lighting)

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Memo Sample Shots (Low light)

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Memo Sample Shots (Macro shots)

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Memo Sample Shots (HDR comparison)

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With HDRWithout HDRWith HDRWithout HDRWith HDRWithout HDRWith HDRWithout HDRWith HDRWithout HDR
With HDR
With HDR
Without HDR
Without HDR
With HDR
With HDR
Without HDR
Without HDR
With HDR
With HDR
Without HDR
Without HDR
With HDR
With HDR
Without HDR
Without HDR
With HDR
With HDR
Without HDR
Without HDR

Memo Sample Shots (Panorama)

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The video recording on the Memo is decent. More expensive MTK6589 phones like the MyPhone A919i can record in 1080p, but the Memo can only record at 720p maximum. At the best setting, the detail capture on the Memo is actually better than the 720p capture on the A919i because of the generous bitrate of 29 to 30 Mbps on "Fine" setting. Frame rate is also smooth at 30 FPS, with some dropped frames experienced only in low lighting conditions. However, the auto focus is aggressive and cannot be disabled. In comparison, the video recording on the Arc Mobile Nitro 450QD was refreshing because the fixed focus camera ensured smoothness throughout and it was like using a standalone camcorder. You can tap to focus on the desired area of the viewfinder while recording a video. You can also enable EIS (electronic image stabilization) if your hands are shaky, but in practice it is better to leave it off as it introduces unwanted artifacts into the video when it attempts to compensate for the shaking. Audio is encoded in stereo at 128 Kbps AAC. Video recording takes up roughly 200 MB per minute of footage on "Fine" setting. You can also settle for "High" setting for video which is also 720p at 30 FPS, but bitrate drops to 9 to 10 Mbps which is 1/3rd of the fine setting, or about 70 MB per minute of footage.

Below are video recording samples taken by the Arc Mobile Memo:
Please watch the videos in 720p to see what the recordings actually look like.
Videos taken were set to "Fine".

Sample 1 (outdoor):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7uDMNy1dSY

Sample 2 (indoor):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs9NTHbUrcI

Sample 3 (low light):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li9o_i8L0XE

Here's the lowdown on the Arc Mobile Memo's camera:
- Above average shots in good lighting
- Shots in low light have too much black clipping and will require better lighting, but otherwise captures good detail where there is light
- Good macro shots
- Lots of other camera options and features
- Good 720p video recording, smooth frame rates, but aggressive auto focus. Has excessive noise levels in low light capture

Comparing the shots made by the Memo to the Apple iPhone 5 is a bit uncalled for considering it costs over four times as much as the Memo, but it does provide a good reference point. The iPhone 5's white balance and color correction is spot on and side by side, you can clearly notice the greenish tint I was talking about on the Memo. Although both the iPhone 5 and Memo churn out 3264x2448 pictures, the file size of the iPhone 5's pictures is approximately 2.5x that of the Memo. At micro detail level, the excessive compression on the Memo's picture rears its ugly head. Zoomed out, details look nice on the Memo's shots but once you crop 300% onwards, the dithering and compression artifacts become apparent. All in all though, the Arc Mobile Memo takes respectable photos considering its price.

Lastly, the front-facing camera uses a GalaxyCore GC0329 sensor with VGA resolution and upscales images to 2 megapixels. Making video calls is advised in decent to good lighting.

Still shot comparison: Arc Mobile Memo vs Apple iPhone 5

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Click thumbnail to view full-size

Battery

The Arc Mobile Memo is equipped with a removable 2000 mAh battery. The MyPhone A919i also has a 2000 mAh battery, the Mediatek MTK6589, but a 5.0" 720p IPS screen and it scored 7 hours 10 minutes on my battery test. The Memo scores nearly an hour longer at 8 hours despite a slightly larger screen. This is possibly because VA panels are relatively power efficient, which may also explain why the Cherry Mobile Titan enjoys very good battery life.

The usual battery test via looping video is still performed, despite it not telling the whole story. For the battery test via looping playback, the application used to play the video is MX Player. The following were the conditions during the test:

  • Screen brightness: 4/15 of MX Player brightness setting or about 30% of Android brightness bar
  • Volume: 13/13 of MX Player volume setting or 100% of Android volume bar, with earphones attached to the Memo
  • MX Player-specific settings: H/W decoder used for video. S/W decoder used for audio

The following are the details of the video file used for playback:

Battery calibration was performed before the test was conducted.

 
Battery test
Start of playback:
1:35 am / 100% / 4.241V
Checkpoint:
5:35 am / 59% / 3.828V
End of playback:
9:35 am / 15% / 3.700V
Total playback time:
8 hours 0 minutes

Total playback time is 8 hours and the battery meter remained accurate the entire time. There were no sudden drops in percent even at critical levels (<25%).

Battery life in typical use scenarios have been very good. Like the Arc Mobile Nitro 450QD, the standby time is stellar. The phone lost only 10% battery having been on standby for 24 hours with one SIM card on auto GSM/WCDMA pick up setting. The Memo will easily last a day of moderate use on lower brightness settings (<25% of brightness bar). By moderate use, I refer to 1 hour of gaming, 2 hours of 3G web browsing and 30 minutes of talk time and several text messages.

Charging times for the Memo are average. With the bundled charger that outputs 1A, I was able to charge from 15% to 85% in around 1 hour 45 minutes while the phone is on standby. It takes another 30 to 45 minutes to charge to full from 85%. In comparison, my Nokia AC-50U charger only took 1 hour 45 minutes to fully charge the phone.

Battery Test

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Start of playbackCheckpointCheckpointEnd of playbackEnd of playback
Start of playback
Start of playback
Checkpoint
Checkpoint
Checkpoint
Checkpoint
End of playback
End of playback
End of playback
End of playback

Audio Quality

For the rating of audio quality, I will go by the following rubrics:

  • Dynamic range - this determines how well the source is able to reproduce varying differences of sound, particularly their degree of quietness and loudness. How clearly a ringing of a cymbal and the boom of a drum is heard and how well-defined each is defined by how high the range is. Perceptibly, this governs the clarity of both low and high frequencies, and sound stage.
  • Power output - this determines how much power the source is able to provide to your equipment (i.e. earphones and headphones). The better the power output of your source, the higher the resistance of the equipment you can use on your phone without suffering detail loss, in which event you will be forced to use an external amp. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that the phone is able to provide adequate power with minimal detail loss to equipment with a resistance of up to 64 ohms, provided that distortion is also 4 stars. Perceptibly, higher power output allows you to lower preamp in the equalizer for cleaner detail. It also governs bass impact.
  • Stereo Crosstalk - this determines how much leakage or interference is occurring between the left and right audio channels. Lower stereo crosstalk means more accurate sound from their respective channels and less mixing. In my ratings, 4 stars defines a low enough stereo crosstalk to provide a soundstage that only suffer minimal distortion when several instruments play simultaneously. Perceptibly, a better stereo crosstalk rating provides less distortion in poorly mixed tracks and to a lesser degree, affects how wide and defined the sound stage is.
  • Distortion - this determines how much power can be delivered by the source without altering the signal. In my ratings, a better distortion rating perceptibly means your phone can playback at higher volume without suffering detail loss through distortion. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that the phone is able to play at 9/10 of the volume bar with minimal detail loss.
  • Noise - not to be confused with SNR (signal-to-noise ratio), noise in my rubrics simply defines how clean the signal is when the frequency is at rest, or perceptibly how much hissing there is when there is quietness. In my ratings, 4 stars defines that there is virtually no hissing when there is silence in the track during playback.

Here is how the Arc Mobile Memo does against phones I have or have reviewed before:

VS
VS

The Arc Mobile Memo has good audio quality. You will particularly enjoy the relatively wide sound stage if your IEM is geared towards a wider sound stage (i.e. Philips SHE35xx series, Sony MH1C, dual driver IEMs). Output is very clean although power will still be inadequate for demanding full-sized headphones upward of 64 ohms. For IEMs though, the Memo is plenty powerful and offers a clean, full bodied sound. Thanks to music players like Poweramp on Android, the Memo can replace dedicated music players like the iPod if you mainly use IEMs. If full-sized headphones are your thing, the output signal is clean enough to use and enjoy with portable amps like the FiiO E6.

It should also be noted that the Memo's 3.5 mm port is CTIA-compliant. This is the first Android phone from local brands that I've encountered to have a CTIA-compliant 3.5 mm port. This means that newer headsets like the Apple Earpods will work on the Memo, unlike other locally branded Android phones which require a CTIA-to-OMTP adapter if you want to use a CTIA-compliant headset. However, while the inline microphone works, the inline volume controls don't.

Other Stuff

Like on the Nitro 450QD, or any Android phone in this price range for that matter, there's only 4 GB of ROM. That's 1.77 GB of internal storage and 1 GB for applications. That's a total of around 2.8 GB usable memory. To bypass the tiny storage, you can easily use an application called FolderMount that moves the data to your external memory (your microSD card) and links it up with a dummy folder on the internal memory. You will basically pair a folder on your internal memory to a matching folder on your external memory that contains the actual data, so you fool Android into thinking the data is still on the internal memory. FolderMount requires root access, but it is very easy to root the Memo or any MTK6589-based device on Android 4.1 and 4.2 for that matter.

Here are the steps to root the Arc Mobile Memo:
1) Since Developer Options are hidden in Android 4.2, go to Settings > About Phone > tap on 'Build number' 10 times to show developer options.
2) Now, enable USB Debugging under Settings > Developer options
3) 3) Download and install the KingRoot APK on your Memo.
4) Open KingRoot and press the large green button until it shows a giant check mark confirming a successful root.

Like on the Nitro 450QD, there are other USB connection options other than mounting it like a storage device. You can connect your Memo to a Mac or Windows 7 or later PC as a media device so you can access files on your phone and computer at the same time. You can still run applications on your phone while it's connected to the PC for file transfers. You can also connect the Memo as a digital camera so you can only access pictures and videos taken by the phone. Ideally, this is useful for standalone printers with USB functions but only are only able to accept digital cameras.

USB connection options
USB connection options

Call quality on the Memo is good despite the lack of a secondary mic for noise cancellation, and with earpiece volume above average. The loudspeaker is very loud, but does crackle at maximum volume. It makes an excellent alarm clock. There's also FM radio if you get bored of your playlist.

Wifi reception on the Memo is below average. Physical interference such as walls easily increase SNR although in practice it does hold a signal well. But in public wifi hotspots, you won't be able to connect as fast as other users with devices that have better signal pick up.

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4 meters away from the router, no obstructions6.5 meters away from the router, 1 wall about 1 foot thick9.5 meters away from the router, 2 walls about 1 foot thick each
4 meters away from the router, no obstructions
4 meters away from the router, no obstructions
6.5 meters away from the router, 1 wall about 1 foot thick
6.5 meters away from the router, 1 wall about 1 foot thick
9.5 meters away from the router, 2 walls about 1 foot thick each
9.5 meters away from the router, 2 walls about 1 foot thick each

The Memo's GPS performance is very good. It took me 52 seconds to get a lock stationary and under a clear sky without A-GPS enabled, and it was able to lock in up to 9 out of the 14 satellites in view short after locking in 5 out of 9 at the 0:52 second mark. Subsequent locks take under 5 seconds which means you can expect the Memo to quickly reacquire the GPS signal after exiting tunnels and such. Also, the Memo does not have a magnetic sensor and you will not be able to use it as a compass offline.

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A few seconds after first lock onFirst lock onFirst lock on
A few seconds after first lock on
A few seconds after first lock on
First lock on
First lock on
First lock on
First lock on

Conclusion

The Arc Mobile Memo is a very well rounded phone for the price. First off, it has a MediaTek MTK6589 processor which is high-end among local brands in terms of performance. The 1 GB of RAM is also the most you can get from local brands too. It also has a very nice screen for the price because you not only get qHD resolution and good image quality, it's also 5.3". In comparison, the similarly priced Cherry Mobile Thunder 2.0 has a 5.0" FWVGA (854x480) TN screen. It's smaller and has worse image quality. The Memo's battery life is also good considering the capacity of the battery. Despite being bigger, it manages to outlast 5" phones with similar battery capacity. The Memo's camera is also dependable and can substitute for entry-level point and shoot cameras.

Although 5.3" isn't considered gigantic any more in the wake of phones like the 6.44" Sony Xperia Z Ultra and 6.1" Huawei Ascend Mate, it is still firmly a phablet. It does fit Samsung Galaxy Note 2 cases like a glove and the Galaxy Note 2 is by far the quintessential phablet. The Galaxy Note 2 fits most pockets and is large enough to tower above all phones except the very few larger than it.

I would normally take issue with some quirks on the Memo such as the non-OGS screen, the wide bezels, the lack of 1080p video recording, the not-so-strong wifi pick up, the bad auto-mode camera in low light, and maybe the useless stylus too. But the phone does a lot of the important things well (including being big) and the asking price is low at only 6,299 Php.

It's a jack of all trades, and then some. If you are looking for the most well-rounded phablet and aren't willing to shell out more for luxuries such as an OGS screen, 720p resolution or 13 megapixel cameras, the Arc Mobile Memo is the phone to get.

Pros:
+ MediaTek MTK6589 processor delivers very fast performance for any task; unquestionably best-in-class performance
+ 1 GB of RAM
+ Good 5.3" qHD VA screen with solid image quality
+ Feature-rich camera with good image quality
+ Good battery life
+ Great audio quality
+ Dual SIM
+ Cases made for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 fit perfectly
+ CTIA-compliant 3.5 mm port means newer headsets like the Apple Earpods will work
+ 6,299 Php only

Cons:
- No 1080p video recording, more expensive MTK6589 phones have this
- Shots in low light condition have excessive black clipping; will require you to go manual mode because auto mode in low light doesn't do a good job
- Wifi pick up is below average
- Bezels are wide and unsightly

Official Arc Mobile Memo Specs

1.2 Ghz quad-core processor
5.3" qHD capacitive multi-touch screen
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
8 MP back camera with LED flash + 2.0 MP front-facing camera
Expandable up to 32 GB via microSD card
3G connectivity
Wifi b/g/n
Bluetooth
FM radio with recording
Dual SIM
Stylus
2000 mAh battery
SRP: 6,299 Php

© 2013 Kyle Lopez-Vito

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      owie 3 years ago

      Impressive review sir. Very technical but informative. well done sir!

      As for the phone, well the wifi is a dealbreaker for me coz I always use wifi inside the room while the router is in the living room. But overall the phone is very impressive for its price. Just my two cents.. :D

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      james 3 years ago

      Ask ko lang kung normal ba na nawawala yung led notification light kapag nagsleep mode after makareceive ng sms?

    • DabbleYou profile image

      DabbleYou 3 years ago

      Nice in-depth review of a phone. Informative. :)

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      RV santos 3 years ago

      Sir, is it possible to change the battery with a larger mAh capacity? Or the phone will still have the same battery life even with a better battery?

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 3 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ RV santos

      The endurance of the device will obviously increase if you use a higher capacity battery, but I don't think a Galaxy Note 2 battery will fit the Memo. The battery life on the Memo is good though, so I don't think using another battery is necessary.

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      Rasetsu 3 years ago

      very well done, as usual.

      any plans to make a review of the O+ Fab 3G tablet phone?

    • profile image

      sam 3 years ago

      The best review i've read so far. Even better than most famous tech bloggers out there. How I wish they could be even half as good as you do. hmf!

      BTW, Sir what can you say about the newly released cherry mobile apollo and which is better overall based on your opinion, apollo or memo? TIA!

    • sprickita profile image

      sprickita 3 years ago from Reno

      Very informative, great stuff ...

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 3 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ Rasetsu

      I have no plans of reviewing that device. Besides, devices sold by O+ in general have terrible price to spec ratio.

      @ sam

      I actually want to review the Cherry Mobile Apollo, but there are already reviews and feedback on the web for the Apollo's OEM model, the Cubot GT99.

      As for the Apollo vs Memo:

      The Apollo beats the Memo by being easier to wield and having a better screen. 720p IPS is better than qHD VA. But the resolution is a double-edged sword because the Memo will enjoy better performance in games, especially in HD games. Not to mention the bigger 5.3" screen is better for gaming, in addition to web browsing and document viewing. The Apollo also has a purportedly better camera since 12 mp is better than 8 mp, which I'll leave like that for now until we get more info. Lastly, the Memo has access to the vast selection of Galaxy Note 2 cases. You'll most likely be stuck with generic cases for the Apollo. I'll give the edge in battery stamina to the Memo too since 720p IPS screens suck battery more.

      Basically, I recommend the Memo if you're after gaming or if you're a power user in general, because the bigger screen makes a big difference. Just check out my size comparison in the 'design and build quality' section of the review. The 4.5" Nitro 450QD looks small in comparison. The difference is even bigger than the SGS3 and Note 2. The 4.5" Apollo would be better suited to people who want to experience a mid-range phone, not a phablet, for a low price. 720p IPS + 8 to 12 mp cameras is the norm for mid-range these days. As for which is better, that totally depends on the user. But both phones offer excellent value.

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      Ron 3 years ago

      Thanks for this review, now I've made my decision.

      God Bless Mate!

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      Edward 3 years ago

      what should i buy, this or the apollo.

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      brylle 3 years ago

      amazing review sir!!!!very informative!!!!it helped me a lot!!!

    • profile image

      enriko 3 years ago

      Does anyone know how to set ringtone (Music) to a specific contact? How to copy a specific contact from SIM to phone?

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      Popoyee 3 years ago

      This review helped me a lot in choosing the right phone at my price range.. Now i'm enjoying my first week with Arc Mobile Memo.. Thanks!!

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      nero 3 years ago

      sir wala naman po problem ang unit nyo sa network signal?mine kasi pag nasa loob ng bahay no signal na while my other phone got full signal.

    • profile image

      nardz 3 years ago

      Impressive review!

      parang nag sasales talk lang hehe..

      I will definitely get one...

    • profile image

      pogi 3 years ago

      compatible ba yung external battery/ casing battery ng note 2?

    • profile image

      ad 3 years ago

      tahnk you for comparing apollo and memo. i'm after gaming so i will get that MEMO! lol

    • profile image

      jp 3 years ago

      Sir question lang po. I bought AMMemo a couple of days ago. Napapansin ko po kasi parang mas maliwanag yung ilalim sa top screen. Also yung nga sides po nya is medyo mas malinae. Sira po ba abg nabili kong unit? tia po.

    • profile image

      leah 3 years ago

      saan po ba pwede makabili ng am memo except lazada?

    • profile image

      GG 3 years ago

      pag i momove po ba ung apps sa sd card buong data po ba ung naililipat ? or ung lib data lang ?

    • profile image

      ward 3 years ago

      may software update po ba to para pwede maupdate sa mas bagong android OS? kung wala pwede po bang manual? panu po yun? thanks. =)

    • profile image

      carm 3 years ago

      I cnt open the file for the rooting process po.

    • profile image

      Darelle 3 years ago

      Wow! What a marvelous complete review! Even the rooting procedure is included which is very rare in reviews. Now I consider this instead of CM's OHD2.0! Thanks.

    • profile image

      Darelle 3 years ago

      Wow! What a marvelous complete review! Even the rooting procedure is included which is very rare in reviews. Now I consider this instead of CM's OHD2.0! Thanks.

    • profile image

      Christoper 3 years ago

      sir.. i like to know which is best, omg hd 2.0 vs arc mobile memo? price isn't a big deal for me. but i'm a gamer and a photo addict.

    • profile image

      merylle 3 years ago

      I bought my arcmobile memo last week. And i really love it. Im a student but i didn't regret buying it with my own allowance. Ahmm. But i have a question. How to use screenshot? thanks. GodBless.

    • profile image

      Chok 3 years ago

      Hold Lock+Volume Down buttons for screenshot

    • profile image

      nardz 3 years ago

      I've got mine..

      it's cute

      great specs

      no lag in games

      overall

      almost perfect

    • profile image

      jimmd 3 years ago

      i bought mine 3 weeks ago, i love it. Sir, how do you turn off the shutter sound of the camera? Thanks.

    • profile image

      KeAn.18 3 years ago

      Hi, is there a screen shot option for this phone? :)

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      gregcebu 3 years ago

      The only real worry is the sub par wifi . As other s have noted that's going to be areal issue for many people. Just how sub par is it??

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      inb4 3 years ago

      Your review is very impressive! Hands down!

      I am still 15% unsure if I'd buy this phone, mainly because it is 5.3" size (too big for me I guess) that is I think my only problem so far,

      What do you think is the best deal to buy w/ a budget of 8K php with the same PERFORMANCE aside from the size? PLEASE HELP sir THANKS A LOT more power!

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      gene 3 years ago

      @leah sa pcxepress merong arc mobile memo

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      blazybuddha 3 years ago

      kapag po ba ni-root ang unit, mavovoid ba ang warranty?

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 3 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ inb4

      Awfully sorry for the late reply. IMO, the absolute best purchase under 8,000 Php at the moment is the MyPhone A919i which is currently marked down at 6.3K Php at any MyPhone store. I've even read that others have been able to get it as low as 5.9K Php.

      The A919i has a 5.0" 720p IPS screen, a MediaTek MTK6589, USB OTG and a decent 8 MP snapper with 1080p24 video recording. It's price-to-performance ratio is impossible to beat at the moment. Not to mention MyPhone has tangibly better support for their products compared to other local brands as MyPhone doesn't release new models frequently. You can easily get spare batteries for the A919i for only 350 Php at MyPhone stores and other accessories are easy to find too.

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      dshowstopper 3 years ago

      sir tanong ko lang kung paano gagana ung music playback control ng earphone, kc nag popause lang sya di sya nag skp at back, 4 pairs na ng earphone ang nasubukan ko, pls reply po

    • profile image

      spyder_rayne8 3 years ago

      Sir c spyder ito ng tcp..balak ko kc bumili uli ano ba mas ok..arc memo..cm omega xl..thl w7s?..

    • profile image

      Vivian 3 years ago

      What an awesome review. May i know if there other phones below 8k that has dual sim standby feature, is good for gamers, and good wifi receptor, and long-lasting battery? Arcmobile sounds good to me except the games i like need good wifi reception.

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 3 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ Vivian

      I strongly recommend the MyPhone A919i which is currently marked down at 6.3K Php until supplies last. It's superior to the Memo in every way except the Memo's ability to use cases made for the Galaxy Note 2. The A919i has nearly no weaknesses when put up against other phones in the 6 to 7K price bracket, which includes the Arc Mobile Memo.

      You should also read the comment I posted above addressed to 'inb4'.

    • profile image

      jobori 3 years ago

      Thanks for this sir. It's very informative and useful.

    • profile image

      GPS 3 years ago

      Sir bakit po yung GPS ng memo ko ayaw mag lock?

    • profile image

      Sisinx 3 years ago

      This Phone is Amazing (n_n)

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      jhongskie05 3 years ago

      Thanks Bro for this review. :)

    • profile image

      arakz 3 years ago

      how to block a phone number from this device?? please..... Thanks!

    • profile image

      crisz 3 years ago

      ask ko LNG po kung pano maglagay ng Picture s contacts thanks

    • symphonyx7 profile image
      Author

      Kyle Lopez-Vito 3 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      @ arakz

      There are many apps for that. Just search for "call and sms blocker" on the Google Play Store.

      @ crisz

      Open the contact you want, press the menu button, edit, then tap on the empty picture box to assign a picture.

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      hi 3 years ago

      If I hve a usb otg.. can I connect it to this phone

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      hello 3 years ago

      i bought mine a few months ago and somehow my touchscreen accumulated some kind of dirt inside. how do you ger this cleaned?

    • Moharrez profile image

      Moharrez 3 years ago from Balabagan, Lanao del Sur

      Which phone will you recommend, memo or cm fuze? Thanks for awesome reviews...

    • profile image

      bnz 2 years ago

      What battery is compAtible replacement for arc mobile memo? Mine is bulging. No support from the makers. Any suggestion?

    • profile image

      Rans 2 years ago

      Can i use Samsung Note 2 tempered glass with Arc Mobile Memo?

    • profile image

      mikel005 2 years ago

      If compared to the current quadcore from mediatek paired with the mali 400 gpu,, does this device fair well?

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      GUEST666 2 years ago

      good day po may alam kayo paano update yung memo ko para sa kitkat o lollipop? binigay sa akin tong phone kase bumili na si kuya ng bago na cherry mobile eh eto stuck sa JB. please help po thanks!

    • profile image

      wsearcher 24 months ago

      almost perfect, well almost until the wifi pick issue.

      it is still a very good pick for many people though.

      marvelous excellent review man.

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