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Arsenal VR One Review - Is This The One?

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In our first impression of the Arsenal VR One, it surprised us with its build and design. We found that it focused on the small details like the pattern on the white cover on top. It was lovely. Now after using it for nearly four weeks, this is what we think about it.
Arsenal VR One Review - Is This The One?
Here's our Arsenal VR One review!

The biggest question we hope to answer is whether or not Arsenal launched their first device with a bang or does it fall short? Let's see.


Display Quality

10 points multitouch!
10 points multitouch!

The 5.2 Inch 10 point multi touch HD IPS display with 1920 X 1080 resolution at 424 ppi is wonderful. It is bright, sharp and well saturated.
One of the very best screen screen for the price!
The blacks and the dynamic range is good for an LTPS screen. The viewing angles are great and at max brightness, we were able to read the screen no problem. We only found one or two situations where it couldn't compete with the sun!

Battery Life

6 hours and 44 minutes score!
6 hours and 44 minutes score!

PC Mark battery benchmark clocked in with 6 hours and 44 minutes! For a 1080p 5.2 inch display and 2800 mAh battery, it is quite capable.

In real life performance, the 2800 mAh battery would last at least 7 hours with our normal day to day workflow of unplugging the phone at 7 AM and spending the day texting, calls, browsing, YouTube video streaming and navigating with Waze. We would reach 25% at the end of the work day at 3PM.

The powerbrick is equipped with 2A of charging power which helps charging time to around two hours from 0 to 100 percent. The charging time is consistent with our Tronsmart cables and Tronsmart USB hubs with no problem.

Audio Quality

Only the right side has speakers!
Only the right side has speakers!


There are two speaker grills for symmetry but only the right side works. It gets relatively loud that is able to compete with our home TV's speakers at max volume without distortion.

Once we plugged-in our personal RHA S500i in-ear monitors and the stock VR One headphones the audio remains consistent with good bass, mids and highs and powerful volume, in fact, it gets to ear drum bursting loudness at max volume. This isn't for audiophiles but for most people this is more than enough!

It can handle FLAC files with relative ease with some damage to the battery consumption. You will have to watch the battery every now and then.

The microphone on the phone and on the stock earphones the other hand is good. I have never experienced complaints from calls I made with the Telco providers or with Facebook messenger or Viber.

Camera

16 MP Samsung sensor behind!
16 MP Samsung sensor behind!

The phone is equipped with a primary 16 MP f/2.0 Samsung 3P3 w/ AF, BSI, and natural spectrum LED flash.

The main camera app is barebones with several modes like  normal, panorama and HDR. There is a cool gesture shutter release mode where when you make the peace sign, the shutter releases after a 3 second countdown. It works even in low light but with a minimum distance of at least 6 inches from the phone. 

It is good for the price but if you want the best image quality for this price bracket, you will have to look else where. We found the images to be average in sharpness, colors and dynamic range. Some of our stills are washed especially in lowlight as well.

The main LED flash itself isn't that powerful so it isn't that helpful if the subject is more than five feet away. If the subject is nearby it helps but if the subjects are landscapes or are in the distance, it will fail.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight sample
Daylight sample
Close-up test
Close-up test
Indoor
Indoor
Lowlight sample
Lowlight sample

The secondary 8 MP f/2.4 Omnivision sensor w/ 84.1 degrees wide angle lens in front is average at best. It has beautify mode and several filters with just okay image detail, color, and contrast. In lowlight, increase in noise is expected. Unfortunately, there's no flash in front.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor grainy selfie
Indoor grainy selfie
Lowlight selfie
Lowlight selfie

The main and secondary cameras can take 1080p with EIS footage with some noticeable softness from the secondary camera to the main camera. The main camera footage is also sharper because the secondary camera has more noise and the noise reduction is softening the images. The colors from footage of the main camera are a little more saturated with deeper blacks. However they aren't that far from each other.

Performance

Antutu and Geekbench score
Antutu and Geekbench score

With an Antutu score of at least 35K, it is good enough for most tasks and 1080p video playback on YouTube and multitab use on chrome but we have reservations as this a VR focused phone. 

Stronger performance would have been appreciated given that this is aimed to be a VR focused phone and with the rising hardware demands of VR content, 35K in antutu may not be future proof after 3 years. 
Near stock experience!
Near stock experience!

It is running a near stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow with minor additions like the VR optimized features. The OS feels snappy with no noticeable lag duty to the light weight near stock experience. The icons that they use for some apps could use some work. They feel out of place with Android 6.0's design theme. That is a personal preference.

The VR experience is a mixed bag. The screen is beautiful and we never saw frame rate drops or ghosting and we never felt that the phone lagged. What we feared is also true though, with a mere 35K Antutu score, the videos and apps we watched were above 30 fps but it never reaches 60 fps.

What ruins the immersion is the fact that we have to keep holding the cardboard box VR headset. It would have been better if it had a head band because our arms would feel sore after 15 minutes of our hand following our continuous multi directional head movements. 

In short, it can take most VR content from 360 YouTube videos, street view, and Cardboard VR apps on Google Play at at least 30 fps but barely reaching 60 fps. This means this device is best for watching 360 videos and not for VR gaming.
The rest of the telephony experience is great though. Calls are stable, SMS signals are strong, and it even has 700 MHz LTE support for faster connection. We also liked that it has OTG connectivity to plug other USB devices like your flash drives.

Pros - Beautiful build and design, great display, loud single speaker, decent cameras, 700 MHz LTE support
Cons - Ageing chipset, 30+ fps VR performance on a VR focused device is underwhelming, camera app is barebones


Verdict

The build and design is beautiful but the focus on VR is where it may need help. With the recent advent of VR, content is still lacking and the challenge is to maintain the interest for it when content for it is still growing. As a VR device it is somewhat of a mixed bag because some content run smoothly while others lag, and this will be a problem if the phone is to handle future content that may or may not be more demanding. We like it as a phone but we hope that as a VR device, it can still be improved.

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4
Battery - 3.5
Camera - 4
Performance - 3.5
Average - 4 / 5
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