HTC Arrive: Sprint's First WP7 Smartphone


Some have said about the HTC Arrive that it is a brand new phone built from year-ago technical specifications, and that's partially true. Notably, the phone is missing a 4G radio but then again, that's also fledgling technology.  It does however sport a somewhat dated 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, though that seems like standard issue specs for WP7 devices these days. However, the Arrive has other nice attributes too.

At first glance, the HTC Arrive looks a lot like many other HTC smartphones and is particularly reminiscent of the HTC Evo Shift, an Android phone also sold by Sprint. But push open the slideout and you'll find one of our favorite design features: its angled display. When using the slideout keyboard, the display pops open to about a 30-degree angle. This feature made it a lot easier for us to alternate our use of the keyboard and touchscreen commands. The more we gazed at that angled display, slightly shaded from glare, the more we loved it.

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On the other hand, the display is on the small side for a touchscreen, at 3.6 inches. In comparison, HTC's other two Windows phones feature 3.8 and 4-inch screens. Folks using this phone with smaller hands will have no trouble with the smaller screen. However a large hand might have trouble with the smaller icons featured in certain sections of WP7's navigation. This is something to consider.

The phone measures in at 4.63 height x 2.32 width x 0.61 thickness, which is a pleasant size to use as a phone, slim enough so even a small hand can wrap around it and comfortably hold it. We found call quality to be consistently excellent, too.

But another downside is that, at 6.5 ounces, the phone was noticeably heavier than other similarly sized smartphones. The phone was so weighty that it gave us a cramp when we engaged in one of those hours-long conversations with a far-flung loved one. We suspect the hinge that creates the nice angle is the culprit adding the weight.

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As we noted, under the hood of the HTC Arrive is a 1 Ghz Snapdragon CPU beefed up with 512 MB ROM, 576 MB RAM and a healthy 16G of storage for apps, data and multimedia. But 16G better be enough, as the memory is built-in and there's no microSD slot. (It is possible, we have been told, to crack open the case and change out the memory card. But the phone is not designed for it, and doing so violates your phone's warranty. We didn't attempt this ourselves.)

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The keyboard was lacking a cursor and some specialty keys included on the HTC Evo Shift slideout, like the ".com" key. But the upside to this is that the keys are a little bigger and nicely spaced. We were able to comfortable type a few hundred words in the included version of Word in about 30-minutes. Loved it.

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Also missing: front-facing camera, HDMI output and again, most notably, no 4G. That's disappointing for the $199 price, the same price Sprint's killer Android 4G HTC Evo and Sprint's 4G Samsung Epic. The dual-screen Kyocera Echo Android phone is expected to be available sometime soon for $199 as well. Honestly, the Arrive's price is a little hard to swallow compared to the prices of other WP7 offerings. Expand your search for phones beyond Sprint at the $199 price and needless to say, a world of options await you, including an iPhone 4 with 16G of memory from AT&T or Verizon and numerous Android choices.

Price aside, the HTC Arrive's design has other pluses and minuses. For instance its accelerometer is quick and responsive which made games like Monkey Ball really fun to play. But it doesn't work in every Window. Several of the main WP7 Hubs including Phone, People, Call History, Weather didn't support landscape mode, even with the slideout open. By the way, the included weather app doesn't show the weather in the tile on the main hub either, either. You have to click on it to see the temperature.

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The phone rounds off its features with a 3.5mm headset jack and ear buds, a 5 MP camera with flash that takes decent shots and a 720p camcorder.

Point-and-shoot shot of Kodiak and full-zoom shot of a flower taken with the HTC Arrive. Click to enlarge.

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