By Daniel Webster | March 20, 2011 8:44 PM
Over the past couple of years Sprint has had the opportunity to release some of the best smartphones
available. With the launch of their WiMax network last year came the HTC EVO 4G, a monumental
achievement in the US mobile industry. So it is no surprise that Sprint would release the first CDMA
Windows Phone 7 device, the HTC Arrive, which is essentially a slight variant of the HTC 7 Pro, now hitting Europe. Along with the debut of the Arrive also comes the first major
update to Windows Phone 7 which warrants improved searching through the Marketplace and the
ability to copy-and-paste.
The HTC Arrive comes with the essential items to get started. A wall charger, a micro USB sync/
charging cable, and an HTC branded stereo headset. Unlike other smartphones being release these
days the Arrive also comes with a rather hefty set of documentation. Sprint has also included a
postage paid envelope to recycle a no longer used and outdated device.
Microsoft created Windows Phone 7 in hopes of preventing devices from being bogged down with
fragmented programs or shoddy hardware. They required that all manufacturers adhere to a strict
minimum hardware standard and the HTC Arrive is no exception. Modeled after the HTC 7 Pro the
Arrive has the same innovative spring-loaded tilting screen and a full five row QWERTY keyboard.
Build quality of the Arrive is praiseworthy but at the same notion with high quality materials comes
weight. At 185g (6.5oz) and nearly 16mm (0.6″) thick the device feels substantially ample. Luckily
HTC designed the Arrive with curved edges that give the perception of a thin device. Typing on the
keyboard is precise and fast especially by not having to use a function button to select numbers. The
offset positioning is nearly identical to any full-size QWERTY making it familiar to anyone.
The internal guts of the Arrive are comprised similarly to other Windows Phone 7 devices. The
computing power comes from the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650 combined with 576MB of
RAM and 512MB of ROM. The secondary memory comes from an inaccessible 16GB microSD card.
Underneath a glass multi-touch capacitive digitizer is the 3.6in (91.4mm) WVGA resolution Super LCD
display (480 x 800 pixels). The radios keeping everything connected are CDMA 800/1900, Wi-Fi b/g/
n, aGPS, and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR. A proximity sensor, digital compass, light sensor, and accelerometer
give the Arrive reference to its surrounding. The ports include a microUSB 2.0 on the side and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The camera is 5MP with an LED flash and is capable of recording in 720p. Bringing all this great hardware to life is the capacious 1500mAh lithium-ion battery.
The Sprint Arrive is a clear example that Microsoft does not want the operating system to be
fragmented with unnecessary apps. Sprint made a wise choice by limiting the number of proprietary
software titles on the phone. The only true Sprint title is the Sprint Zone app, which is basically an
insider app that displays Sprint related news, apps, and tips. Sprint Zone also has several tiles that will
link to other Sprint websites.
Until now there have not been many turn-by-turn navigation apps available for WP7. The included
Telenav app is a full version of the popular navigation program that does not require a monthly
subscription like it has on other operating systems. The premium service for Telenav costs $4.99
a month which consists of speech input recognition, warnings of commute delays, and weather
With the updated Windows Phone 7 OS required for CDMA devices we see the enhancements to search
more proficiently through the Marketplace and to copy-and-paste text. The improved search function
now makes it simple to find the exact app, music title, or game by being able to select
the category before typing in the request.
One of the most talked about features missing from Windows Phone 7 was the ability to copy-and-
paste text. Thankfully Microsoft fixed this issue and made it easier to execute than other current mobile operating system. Just tap a word, drag a finger to select the text, touch the copy icon, and presto. Swiping to the right will restore what was pasted from the clipboard to paste the text again.
Photos taken by the Arrive’s 5MP camera turn out quite well. The camera is capable of focusing on
objects as close as two inches (5cm). Switching between settings or real-time effects on the camera’s interface is a breeze. The LED flash provides enough light for candid dark shots without causing unwanted color distortion.
Videos may be recorded up to 720p resolution at 30fps.
The NoDo Windows Phone 7 update also reduced the time it takes for applications and games to start
up and resume. They have also increased the internal cache size which results in less storage activity
and faster access times.
This is obvious in the HTC Arrive which seems faster to launch apps and navigate than other Windows
Phone 7 devices with similar hardware specs and no update. Even loading media rich websites did not
take long to load using Internet Explorer.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
Making calls in the Seattle area on Sprint’s network provided a consistently clear and dependable
connection. There were no dropped calls and both parties of the conversation were heard well. The
speakerphone of the Arrive is probably one of the best around.
While the HTC Arrive is not capable of connecting to Sprint’s 4G WiMax connection the network
speeds on 3G were both reliable and somewhat swift. The average connection speed was around
1Mbps down and 340Kbps up. FCC radiation tests measured a digital SAR of 0.72 watts per kilogram (2.2 pounds) which is quite low.
Battery life of the Arrive is very good. With average use the phone was able to last a couple of days
on a full charge in a good coverage area. While in standby the Arrive just keeps on going, even when it
said it had a critically low battery, it was still able to be woken up after a couple of hours. The battery is a 1500mAh Li-Ion which Sprint claims is capable of delivering 6 hours of talk time.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The Sprint HTC Arrive is available for purchase on March 20th from Sprint’s online and retail stores for the subsidized price of $199.99 after qualifying two year agreement and mail-in rebates have been applied. The full purchase price without a contract is $449.99.
+ Improved WP7 OS with copy and paste
+ Telenav included, lack of Sprint crapware
+ Terrific camera
+ Spring-loaded tilt screen
+ Excellent battery life
+ Great keyboard layout
+ SRS enhancements
- Specs seem last-generation
- Strange method to remove battery cover
- Inaccessible 16GB microSD card
- Battery heats quickly
In a market where smartphone sales are driven by functionality and speed. It seems odd that HTC and Sprint would release a device with one-year old hardware. That being stated, the HTC Arrive provides both.
With the improvement seen in the latest update to Windows Phone 7. The Arrive becomes a shinning beacon of optimism for consumers debating whether or not to invest in a Windows Phone 7 device. If Microsoft continues to listen to consumers and provide enhancements to the OS Windows Phone 7 will surly be a contender along with Android and iOS.
We rate the HTC Arrive at 3.5/5.