Check out our HTC Arrive review here. Sprint finally gets a Windows Phone 7 phone, but can it match the competition?
HTC Arrive Report
Sprint's first Windows Phone 7 device has finally€¦Arrived. The HTC Arrive jumps on the EV-DO network for $100 with a 2-year contract€”after the mail-in rebate, of course. But the Arrive marks the comeback of Microsoft to the CDMA universe, and the phone is the long-awaited successor to the HTC Touch Pro 2 in Sprint's lineup. With its slide-out, angled QWERTY keyboard and narrow design, we're reminded of the fact that HTC and Microsoft invented this form factor for Windows Mobile back in the day. The HTC Arrive may not have the best 720p-capable camera, but its call quality and battery life was found to be solid in our tests.
We also can't escape the fact that the HTC Arrive employs the latest love-or-hate Windows Phone 7 OS, a platform that was marketed to the nines, yet received lukewarm reception compared to the current crop of Android phones. Though the HTC Arrive (specs) takes a hit with the business user, Microsoft is releasing updates throughout the year in order to make this phone more useful. But how does the phone perform out of the box? Let's check out the full review.
We looked at the HTC Arrive as Sprint's iteration of the LG Quantum. However, the Arrive has a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard that angles up toward the typist. We could also edge the screen back a tad into its slots to lay it flat for a head-on view. Text input on the HTC Arrive was not bad, if you're fond of flat keys. We prefer raised keys, as found on the Motorola Cliq 2, so the HTC Arrive took a while to acclimate to. Also, we didn't get the versatility of the Quantum's QWERTY, which offered Up and Down buttons for scrolling. The HTC Arrive's QWERTY was more of a standard keyboard that could have been mounted on a number of phones from the past decade.
The HTC Arrive has a smaller 3.6-inch WVGA capacitive multi-touch screen that exhibited great touch sensitivity and graphics with its 16-million colors. We've complained about Windows Phone 7 screens made by HTC in the past for the glitchy text while scrolling up and down in menus. Well, the Arrive does not treat us to that seizure-inducing experience while scrolling up and down, but we do get it side-to-side. This means the screen is a bit of an improvement, but not by much. We get the same Windows Phone 7 haptic feedback button along the bottom of the screen€”Back, Windows Home, and Search, which is Bing.
One thing to note about the HTC Arrive is the fact that it lacks removable storage. The phone is equipped with 16GB of internal space, and in order to transfer our files to our computer, we needed to download the Windows Phone 7 Connector, which synched with iPhoto and operated very similarly to iTunes. What a coincidence. Aside from that, the Arrive has a 3.5mm Audio jack and designated Camera button for the 5-megapixel shooter on back with single LED flash. Stylistically, the Arrive is hot with its two-tone brushed metal backing, but the phone does not offer any significant features that we haven't seen on other sliders.
Software and Interface
What truly sets Sprint's HTC Arrive apart from its peers is its Windows Phone 7 OS. This is a love or hate operating system, but we seem to be stuck somewhere within the middle of the Venn diagram. First off, we loved the phone's hasty responsiveness, courtesy of the 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 448MB of RAM. However, the platform upon which we browsed and interacted was one-of-a-kind indeed. Anyone who's ever played with one of the new Windows Phone 7 devices will know what we're going on about. Rather than have every single program or application visible like Android, the HTC Arrive categorizes and compresses everything into hubs.
For instance, the phone offers a People hub that contains all of our contacts from any account we are signed into. Their contact numbers, emails, IM names, even Facebook profile pictures are all grouped together, making it a snap to find someone. There are also only two Home screens€”Hubs, and a list Main Menu. Windows Phone 7 takes some getting used to, and the interface is unconventionally beautiful. However, Windows Phone 7 is more of a pretty face than a renaissance OS.
While the Hubs may consolidate information and look nifty with their live animations, the HTC Arrive€”like any Windows Phone 7 device€”lacks in the Internet department. For instance, there's no Flash support whatsoever, so in order to watch videos, we had to take a little cyber walk over to YouTube in our Music + Videos hub. Also, copying and pasting on the HTC Arrive is a crapshoot. Let's just say it's a lot more difficult to achieve than on most other phones. But for the most part, the HTC Arrive's Internet Explorer hub is just too basic for an advanced experience based on its overall lack of options. Next to an iPhone or Android phone, the HTC Arrive just can't come close. That IE9-based browser is in the works, but can't come soon enough.
Multimedia and Productivity
Luckily, the HTC Arrive is a better multimedia phone. We'll start with the Music + Videos hub, which compiles all of our videos from the phone, YouTube videos, music, and Zune store for purchasing more music and videos. The Pictures hub combined our entire phone, downloaded, and account pictures from facebook, flickr, or any other account that we happened to be signed into for easy access. For that, we commend the HTC Arrive. Also, the Arrive comes with the Xbox Live store, which allowed us to create our own Avatar and browse from some highly engaging games.
The game library is nowhere near as extensive at the iTunes store or Android Market, but it is growing, and the selection is not bad at all.
In addition to a great Maps program, the HTC Arrive offers Google Mail, Hotmail, and Exchange ActiveSync. For working on the go, the HTC Arrive has its own Office hub, containing Microsoft Office, OneNote, and SharePoint Workspace.
Call Quality/Battery Life
Usually, a phone only hits one or the other in this department, but the HTC Arrive's performance was beyond our expectations. First off, we haven't experienced quality call sound like this in quite sometime. Background noise was practically nonexistent, and voices were unfaltering. After the series of calls we made, it became apparent that the HTC Arrive was one of the best phones on the market when it came to voice quality.
Battery life was not too shabby either. The HTC Arrive's 1500 mAh battery succeeded in keeping the phone alive for a few days on standby before biting the dust. This was with some heavy gaming, image testing, calling, and Internet browsing. Compared to the current crop of battery-sucking smartphones, the HTC Arrive will take you farther without the need to charge every 4 hours.
Sadly, and like many other Windows Phone 7 devices we've seen, the HTC Arrive suffers from SIQS (Sucky Image Quality Syndrome). The camera's 5-megapixel camera produced lackluster images that exhibited a serious lack in detail, lethal oversharpening with stepped edges, washed out, flat color, and the dreadful haze engulfing most outdoor shots. For a smartphone, this was one of the worst camera performances we've seen. The only bonus with the HTC Arrive's camera is that it's slightly better in low light than other phones like the HTC Thunderbolt and HTC Inspire 4G, which we tested side-by-side with.
However, the Thunderbolt had far superior image quality in bright light, and it gave us the option to shoot video while using the Flash and Touch focus. The HTC Arrive's 720p HD video looked like an interpolated version of a poor VGA performance, and aside from a few effects and Scene modes, the HTC Arrive does not have much to offer when it comes to camera controls. The bottom line is to not expect the best€”even a semi-decent€”camera performance out of the HTC Arrive.
Sprint's first Windows Phone 7 phone is an acquired taste. This "phone to save us from our phones" may have a flashy interface, great call quality, solid battery life, and a friendly, angled QWERTY. But we were reminded of our other experiences with Windows Phone 7 phones, and it was all too familiar. Internet is basic, the camera is highly disappointing, and the phone lacks removable storage space.
While the HTC Arrive may not be geared as a premiere multimedia phone, we have to remember what it's up against. First, there's the Samsung Epic 4G with its front-facing camera with video chat, Android Market, superior 5-megapixel camera, and full Internet browser with Flash support. Then there's the HTC EVO Shift 4G, which ranked amongst our top sliders in our Road Warrior shootout.
For road warriors looking for a Touch Pro 2 upgrade, the HTC Arrive might be too little too late when we look at not only its internal competition, but the other carriers that are hawking beastly Android phones left and right. However, if you're a mainstream user or social networker, the Windows Phone 7 experience represents a fresh take on how you communicate with your friends and family.