What's hot: Lovely design and quality, solid hinge.
What's not: Windows Phone 7 still lacking some key features.
Reviewed April 6, 2011 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The HTC Arrive is the first CDMA Windows 7 phone to hit US shores. When Windows Phone 7 started shipping in 2010, Microsoft’s new OS only supported GSM phones, so Sprint and Verizon had to wait for the first OS update (called “no-do”), which added support for CDMA networks. While ‘no-do” has ever so slowly rolled out for existing GSM models, the HTC Arrive ships with that revision which also adds a few features like copy and paste and improved Zune Marketplace search (searching for an app by name no longer brings up scads of song tracks and videos).
The Arrive joins the LG Quantum (that other keyboarded Windows 7 phone) as a QWERTY landscape slider. The phones are otherwise quite different, while the Quantum on AT&T was a plastic, feature-phone looking beast with a just OK 4 row keyboard, the Arrive looks and feels like a quality piece, and we love the 5 row keyboard with dedicated number row and very standard layout. HTC has a reputation for understated, classy design and solid quality, and that’s what the Arrive delivers. It employs a pleasing combo of plastics and metal with signature HTC design cues like grille style surfaces that surround the keyboard and display. The hinge is particularly interesting: it’s a unique design that’s unlike the troublesome HTC G2 hinge. Exposed moving parts are kept to a minimum, there’s no play and the phone slides, tilts and locks securely (watch our video review to see it in action).
In terms of standard specs, you won’t see anything different here, since manufacturers and carriers have all gone with Microsoft’s fairly decent minimum requirements: a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 16 gigs of internal flash storage, a 5 megapixel autofocus camera that can shoot 720p video, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth with A2DP and a GPS. Beyond design, one area where manufacturers do differentiate is the display, but the Arrive doesn’t excite us: the standard 3.6” LCD isn’t horrid but it’s not as sharp as SLCD nor ultra-saturated and bright like Samsung’s Super AMOLED display used on the Windows 7 Samsung Focus. Colors look decent head-on, but fade a bit when viewed from an angle. Text clarity is good, especially since the usual 800 x 480 pixels are packed into 3.6” vs. the 4” on the Focus and 4.3” on the HTC HD7.
Deals and Shopping:
OS: Same as it Ever Was?
We’re surprised that Microsoft isn’t more aggressive rolling out updates with new features that were sorely lacking in the original Windows Phone 7 release. Just because Apple got away with it for the first iPhone and iOS 1.0, that doesn’t mean Microsoft can afford to take the same liberties 4 years later. The iPhone was a groundbreaking product with a user experience that was light years ahead of the competition when it released in 2007. Now we have the capable and evolved Android, the ever-impressive though low selling webOS phones and a more mature iOS. With Windows Phone 7 we’re still awaiting multi-tasking and full support for landscape orientation in all apps (particularly for a landscape QWERTY slider like the HTC Arrive). Happily we do get copy and paste, a URL bar in landscape mode when the keyboard is deployed for IE Mobile and a more intelligent Marketplace search.
That’s not say we don’t like Windows Phone 7: it’s remarkably easy to use, graphically attractive and the integration with Zune music and videos and XBOX Live is really brilliant. The number of apps in the Marketplace increases weekly, and there are over 10,000 apps, including popular mobile staples like Flixster Movies, Weather Channel, AP Mobile, CNN News, BBC News, ESPN Score Center and a bevvy of XBOX Live games that give the iPhone a run for its gaming money.
The OS is also quick and rarely bogs down. It responds well to touch and multi-touch for pinch zooming and the MS Office suite (read/edit/create) is handy for business users. The MS Exchange support is solid, as you’d expect from a Microsoft product, and it can handle POP email, Gmail and Hotmail. Facebook integration is pleasing and there are a few Twitter clients to keep you social networking types happy. For those of you who are upgrading from an old Windows Mobile 6.x smartphone, rest assured, Windows Phone 7 is a completely fresh and improved experience that requires no stylus or foot tapping when the phone lags.
Here's our 12 minute HTC Arrive video review:
Call and Data
The HTC Arrive has good voice quality with enough incoming call volume to hear your caller when in a moderately noisy location. We heard no background noise and the DSP did an excellent job of filtering out background noise when we called from big box stores and other noisy places.
The phone has 3G EV-DO Rev. A (4G support is MIA in Windows Phone 7). Though there aren’t currently reliable test apps to measure download and upload speeds, experientially, the Arrive feels on par with other Sprint 3G Rev. A smartphones. IE Mobile is much improved over the old Windows Mobile web browser, but its rendering speeds still lag behind Android (#1) and iOS (#2). Pages often don’t appear as they download, and the browser waits until the page download is mostly complete before displaying anything, which makes it feel slower than it is. There’s no Adobe Flash, though Microsoft says it's coming at some point. The phone can play mobile-friendly video formats like YouTube Mobile.
Microsoft has two rules for Windows Phone 7: carriers must offer OS updates once Microsoft makes them available (a carrier can only refuse 1 update) and bloatware is to be kept to a minimum. That means the software experience is largely the same regardless of which Windows 7 phone you purchase. The HTC Arrive ships with HTC Hub (a sub-portal in the Marketplace where you can download a few HTC freebies and get your fill of HTC’s old flip clock + weather screen), TeleNav GPS navigation and Sprint Zone.
Camera and GPS
The 5 megapixel autofocus camera isn’t the Arrive’s best feature. Images tend toward outdoor over-exposure with some color shift indoors in low light (typically magenta), and they’re over-sharpened. The camera reminds us of older HTC 5 MP camera phones before they finally made great strides to improve their phones’ imaging capabilities. It’s not the worst we’ve seen, but the Samsung Focus and HTC Thunderbolt take better shots and video. Max video resolution is 720p with VGA and QVGA options available. The phone has an LED flash and like all Windows 7 phones, a dedicated camera button on the side. You can press and hold the camera button to wake up the phone and take a shot (no need to slide-unlock the home screen first).
The GPS works with the included Telenav and Bing Maps. It should also work with 3rd party solutions as they become available. We had no trouble getting a satellite fix and the phone provided solid turn-by-turn directions.
The HTC Arrive is a solid smartphone and one of the few QWERTY Windows 7 phones. If you’re a Sprint customer who’s been hankering to try out Windows Phone 7, or you’re just loyal to Microsoft’s platform after years of being a Windows Mobile user, the Arrive is for you. It’s well made with HTC’s usual elegant design touches, has a robust hinge for tilted-mode use and call quality is solid. The display might be a little small by today’s mega-screen standards, and we wish it used a more cutting-edge tech, but overall the Arrive is a very good smartphone and Windows Phone 7 is enjoyable and super-easy to use.
Pro: Top notch design and good build quality. Solid voice phone, Windows Phone 7 is easy and pleasant to use.
Con: Smallish screen of the old-fashioned LCD variety. Windows Phone 7 still waiting for important feature updates like multi-tasking and landscape support in all apps.
TFT LCD capacitive display. Resolution:
WVGA, 800 x 480. Supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer and keyboard deployment, has ambient light sensor and proximity sensor.
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable.
1500 mAh. Claimed talk time: 6 hours.
Performance:1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 processor. 576 megs RAM, 512 megs flash ROM and 16 gigs flash storage.
x 2.32 x 0.61 inches. Weight: 6.5 ounces.
Phone:CDMA dual band digital, 3G EV-DO Rev. A.
Camera:5 megapixel with autofocus lens and LED flash. Can shoot 720p video.
GPS:Has aGPS that works with TeleNav and Bing Maps.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Voice command software integrated into OS. Has FM radio.
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 EDR with headset, handsfree and A2DP stereo profiles.
Phone 7 OS. Standard apps include IE, MS Office Mobile, email client, Marketplace, Bing Maps and Search, Zune music and video player, alarms, calculator, XBOX Live Games, People (contacts, Windows Live and Facebook), Pictures and Settings. Sprint software: TeleNav GPS Navigator and Sprint Zone. HTC software: HTC Hub.