Arc Mobile, a new player in the local Android tablet and smartphone scene sent us their latest budget-friendly 7-inch slate with full phone functionality. Meet the Arc Mobile Tab 720M 3G. Let’s take it for a full spin by reading our full review.
Design and Construction
I’m going to tell you straight up that this tablet is far from fancy. It’s simple-looking, generic even, the bezels are thick and it’s not clad in aluminum or any rubber finish. But this is not to say that the 720M 3G has nothing to be desired externally. It feels packed even though it’s made of plastic, there’s no creakiness when gripped in any parts, and the semi-glossy finish makes it feel good in the hands.
Found on the front of the 720M is a 7-inch capacitive display, earpiece and VGA front-facing camera. On the right side are the Power/Lock buttons and the volume rocker. On the top side, are the microUSB port, microphone and headset jack. While on the left and bottom side is another set of microphones. Flip it on its back and you’ll see the 2 megapixel rear camera, two speaker grills down below. Hidden by a removable plastic panel are the slots for two SIM cards and a microSD card.
Overall, I’m pleased with the 720M 3G’s design for a tablet of this caliber and price. The only things that I don’t like though are the thick bezels and the hard to remove plastic panel which is also a bit lacking on durability (accidentaly chipped it when I pried it open). Other than that, everything about the design and construction looks and feels fine.
The 720M 3G’s 7-inch display packs a WVGA (800 x 480) resolution or equal to 133 ppi. It doesn’t have IPS so viewing angles are limited and will surely suffer in bright conditions. You might want to manually crank up the brightness though as this one doesn’t have an ambient light sensor.
Color quality is okay but not going to impress. It lacks some kick and appears like it’s washed out. Overall, the display is very workable when viewing photos and watching movies but you’ll definitely feel that it lacks something.
On the plus side, the low display specs is less power hungry and contributes to overall battery life which we will discuss later.
OS, Apps and UI
The tablet comes with Android 4.1.2 Jellybean right out of the box which starting to become common with Android devices nowadays. Arc Mobile kept it stock meaning there’s no UI customization made and no third-party apps. Arc Mobile threw in their own set of widgets and wallpapers though so it’s all good. However, you only have 1GB worth of usable storage so a microSD card is recommended.
The UI actually looks like a smartphone’s interface stretched out to accommodate the large screen. However, it still has a slight affinity to the tablet by taking the clock, battery and connectivity status at the bottom together with the three basic navigation buttons.
To be frank, it’s a bit difficult to grasp the 720M 3G’s UI. It feels large for a smartphone but not bad for a tablet. And since the 720M 3G caters to both device types, the transition is a bit confusing. One moment it feels like a tablet then suddenly becomes like a huge smartphone.
Multimedia and Camera
One thing I like about the 720M 3G is its multimedia capabilities. Most Android tablets of this caliber can’t play 1080p video files but this one can. Aside from that it has a built-in FM radio and two loud speakers.
Speaking of sound, the 720M 3G’s speakers are not just audible, they’re very loud especially when you crank it up to maximum. Audio is clear and has a sufficient amount of bass but somehow felt like it’s coming out from an enclosed plastic case than from the speakers itself.
As for camera performance, it has a 2 megapixel rear shooter capable of continuous shots and Panorama. As for video recording it can shoot VGA (640 x 480) videos in 3GP format.
To sum up this part, the 720M 3G will suffice when it comes to playing videos and music but not so much when it comes to shooting images and videos.
Performance and Benchmarks
The 720M 3G sports a 1Ghz dual-core processor with 512MB of RAM. It worked well during the entire time we’re using it and we’re actually a bit surprised that it’s faster and more fluid than expected.
Navigation is smooth, apps launch relatively fast and there weren’t any random reboots. However, don’t expect it to perform flawlessly when running graphic intensive apps but if you’re a fan of light games such as Candy Crush, Temple Run and Angry Birds, it will suffice.
We did our usual series of benchmarks for the 720M 3G and here are the results:
* AnTuTu – 7,014
* Quadrant – 2,924
* Vellamo HTML5 – 1,296
* Vellamo Metal – 376
* Nenamark 2 – 28.7 fps
Call quality and Battery life
For a phone, the 720M 3G can provide good call quality. I can hear and be heard clearly even if I’m standing beside a slightly loud TV. In fact, I can only hear a faint sound coming from the TV so I believe the 720M 3G utilizes some noise cancelling technology as well. The only awkward part here is putting that 7-inch slate on the side of your head to take a call. It’s best to just use a good headset with a mic on this one.
As for battery life, the tablet has a 3,000mAh worth of juice. With normal use consisting of constant WiFi connectivity, heavy SNS, light calls and moderate texting, the 720M 3G can last an average of 9 to 11 hours a day. Expect lower when using 3G internet.
For video playback it can last for 4 hours when running a full HD movie in a loop at 50% brightness and 0% volume.
Arc Mobile is offering something good here with the Tab 720M 3G. Although it carries a modest look and specs, it didn’t fall short when it comes to performance. In fact, it performs better than most affordable quad-core tablets with a gig of RAM. In addition, it has a full dual-SIM phone functionality, 3G internet capability, and an affordable price tag to boot.
However, it’s not something I would recommend as a primary smartphone, but if you’re in a tight budget and on a lookout for a 3G phone/tablet-in-one, then the 720M 3G is a good choice for your buck.
Arc Mobile Tab 720M 3G specs:
7-inch WVGA (800×480) capacitive display, 133ppi
1GHz dual-core MT6577 processor
PowerVR SGX531 GPU
512MB of RAM
4GB of internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
2MP fixed-focus camera (No LED flash)
VGA (0.3MP) front-facing camera
GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (Quad-band)
3G/HSPA capable (UMTS 850/2100)
Dual SIM/Dual Standby (3G SIM1 / 2G SIM2)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
GPS with A-GPS support
Li-Ion 3,000mAh battery
Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
Black and White
What we liked about it:
* Solid construction
* Good performance
* Phone functionality
* Affordable price tag
What we didn’t like:
* Low-res display
* Low camera spec
* No auto-brightness
* Hard to remove and not so durable plastic cover for card ports