Since the 'second dimension' could be just about anywhere, it isn't generally possible to do so without at least looping implicitly. But, let's say it happens to be in the first item, you could just do this:

is_array($arr[0]);

Otherwise, using a for loop that shortcircuits upon finding a match is probably the most efficient solution there is to it. After all, your own for loop is definitely way better than going with the implicit loop. So, here's how:

$ more multi.php
<?php
$a = array(1 => 'a',2 => 'b',3 => array(1,2,3));
$b = array(1 => 'a',2 => 'b');
$c = array(1 => 'a',2 => 'b','foo' => array(1,array(2)));
function is_multi($a) {
$rv = array_filter($a,'is_array');
if(count($rv)>0) return true;
return false;
}
function is_multi2($a) {
foreach ($a as $v) {
if (is_array($v)) return true;
}
return false;
}
function is_multi3($a) {
$c = count($a);
for ($i=0;$i<$c;$i++) {
if (is_array($a[$i])) return true;
}
return false;
}
$iters = 500000;
$time = microtime(true);
for ($i = 0; $i < $iters; $i++) {
is_multi($a);
is_multi($b);
is_multi($c);
}
$end = microtime(true);
echo "is_multi took ".($end-$time)." seconds in $iters times\n";
$time = microtime(true);
for ($i = 0; $i < $iters; $i++) {
is_multi2($a);
is_multi2($b);
is_multi2($c);
}
$end = microtime(true);
echo "is_multi2 took ".($end-$time)." seconds in $iters times\n";
$time = microtime(true);
for ($i = 0; $i < $iters; $i++) {
is_multi3($a);
is_multi3($b);
is_multi3($c);
}
$end = microtime(true);
echo "is_multi3 took ".($end-$time)." seconds in $iters times\n";
?>
$ php multi.php
is_multi took 7.53565130424 seconds in 500000 times
is_multi2 took 4.56964588165 seconds in 500000 times
is_multi3 took 9.01706600189 seconds in 500000 times

Now, here how you could do it with implicit looping, but you can't shortcircuit it right when you hit a match:

$ more multi.php
<?php
$a = array(1 => 'a',2 => 'b',3 => array(1,2,3));
$b = array(1 => 'a',2 => 'b');
function is_multi($a) {
$rv = array_filter($a,'is_array');
if(count($rv)>0) return true;
return false;
}
var_dump(is_multi($a));
var_dump(is_multi($b));
?>
$ php multi.php
bool(true)
bool(false)