The HTC Arrive, based off the HTC 7 Pro, is first Windows Phone 7 device from Sprint. It was released in March, but only recently did we get a chance to put it through the paces. Microsoft has a standard set of required specifications for all Windows Phones and the HTC Arrive is no different. It also ships with the latest version of Windows Phone, including the NoDo update that provides improvements to the Marketplace and support for the copy & paste feature.
HTC is known for building solid hardware and the Arrive is no different. It’s well made, feels sturdy and feels like a quality device. The HTC Arrive features a horizontal slide out QWERTY keyboard. The sliding process is smooth, providing easy access to the keyboard. If you enjoy a full side keyboard, you’ll be pleased with the keyboard on the Arrive. It produced the very tactile response you’d expect and the keys are not flush to the point where they are hard to distinguish. Typing felt comfortable and dare I say enjoyable. Windows Phone 7 lacks support for landscape in some areas including the homescreen and Marketplace. Email, web, calendar and messaging all work perfectly.
The display is a 3.6” WVGA. When looking at the display by itself, the colors look rich and vibrant. It’s not as saturated as a Super AMOLED, but it was a great looking display. With the keyboard open, the display arches at an angle.
The front of the device carries the trademark look of other HTC phones released this past year and it’s hard not to like the recessed silver grilles that adorn the top and bottom of the phone. On the back, the battery cover is easily distinguished by it’s brushed aluminum finish. It stands out in a way that doesn’t make for a very appealing look.
A 5 megapixel shooter complete with auto focus and flash is on the back. There is no front facing camera on this or any Windows Phone to date. That will likely come when we see Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Facetime. With the dedicated camera button, it’s easy to take a quick photo. The Arrive was also very fast once I initiated the shot. Camera quality was very good as you’ll see in the two sample shots below. (Note: These were scaled down to fit on the website) Video quality was middling.
Storage is a 16GB, but there is no expandable memory option. This is a disappointment and might be a dealbreaker depending upon your media collection and your expectations of how much you’d like to carry with you. The Arrive comes with a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor, making it very capable in all tasks we performed.
The phone is a workhorse and the battery easily lasted a day of heavy activity. The Arrive has a removable battery, so power users could always opt for a spare.
As mentioned, the latest version of Windows Phone 7 has been pre-installed on the Arrive. Given the trouble getting updates out on earlier versions, this is a big plus. Highlights of the ‘NoDo’ update are support for copy and paste and an improved Marketplace. When searching a category in the Marketplace (for example, Apps), the resulting query will show just apps. This is improved over previous iterations where you would see music, apps, etc.
If you are reading this review, chances are that you have not used Windows Phone 7. I’m basing this on the fact that you’re probably a Sprint customer and this is their first Windows Phone. The operating system is easy to use, as Microsoft attempts to illustrate with their “glance and go” ads. This is not an operating system that has widespread appeal to people who like to “tweak” their phones. The interface is neatly layed out in tiles. Users can add tiles (which are shortcuts to apps) and remove tiles. Outside of changing colors, your homescreen largely remain “stock”.
This being an HTC phone, there is an HTC Hub. This renders an animation followed by the clock and weather stripped from HTC Sense. Unlike Sense, this isn’t any sort of replacement for the homescreen. Options within the HTC Hub are limited to checking weather in your area and seeing featured apps.
HTC also includes an application titled Photo Enhancer. The title is a bit misleading, but in a good way. It’s more an effects application, that allows you to select a host of options to manipulate your photos to sepia, black and white, vintage and more. There are roughly 13 filters, include an one to auto-enhance your images. Once your happy with your editing, you can select save which does not overwrite your original photo.
Another HTC utility is the Sound Enhancer. This allows for SRS Enhancement, which offers modest, but noticeable improvements.
This being a Sprint phone, carriers are never shy about including a “software bundle”. The “Sprint Zone” is a custom hub that provides Sprint news, access to your account along with suggested apps. Sprint TV & Movies, Sprint Radio, Nascar Sprint Cup Mobile and Sprint Football Live are all specific to the Arrive. Sprint Football Live isn’t an actual app, but rather a mobile friendly website that’s lacking. TeleNav, a very capable GPS service, is also included for turn by turn directions. This, along with other services mentioned above, are free with Sprint’s Unlimited Plan.
- High quality materials
- Solid construction
- Nice display
- Excellent QWERTY
- Good overall usability due to 1Ghz processor
- Landscape support missing in some areas
- Lack of expandable memory
- Poor video quality
The HTC Arrive is capable and at the same time cumbersome due to the size of the device. If you are not ready to give up your full sized, landscape QWERTY, then perhaps the Arrive is the phone for you. The tradeoff is bulk. It’s reminiscent of the HTC Tilt. Build quality as well as materials are solid throughout and there was some value in the apps such as Photo Enhancer that are unique to the Arrive. Despite lack of landscape support in places, Windows Phone 7 continues to show itself as both a snappy and well thought out OS. With over 15,000 apps in the Marketplace and the very excellent Zune service, there is plenty to like about Windows Phone 7. If you are a Sprint customer, the Arrive is a very good option for those who prefer a landscape QWERTY form factor.