Sprint HTC Arrive: Windows Phone 7 limits a fantastic QWERTY keyboard

The Sprint HTC Arrive is the first WP7 CDMA smartphone available and it is a decent device. The specs are at least a year old and the WP7 OS does poorly at supporting landscape orientation.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Windows Phone 7 launched last fall for GSM carriers and this weekend you will finally be able to pick up a CDMA model in the USA. The HTC 7 Pro launches as the HTC Arrive on Sprint for $199.99. Overall, it is a solid WP7 device, but the limited landscape support makes the device look a bit silly at times and WP7 just is not ready to support these types of form factors.

I like the Arrive and was thinking of picking one up on Sprint, but my Dell Venue Pro is a better piece of hardware and in my opinion the DVP is the best Windows Phone 7 device. Sprint customers and others interested in WP7 should check out my small image gallery of the HTC Arrive.

Image Gallery: Check out product images of the HTC Arrive from Sprint.
Image Gallery: Arrive retail box
Image Gallery: Arrive in hand

In the box and first impressions

The HTC Arrive comes in a fairly standard well-built box with some accessories and the battery. Contents include a USB cable, USB cable A/C charger, wired stereo headset, and some pamphlets.

The hardware feels great in your hand and is quite dense. I like my phones to feel solid so am not bothered by the weight. The QWERTY keyboard is fantastic and closely matches the BEST smartphone keyboard that was found in the HTC Touch Pro 2.


Specifications for the HTC Arrive include the following:

  • Windows Phone 7 with NoDo update
  • 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • Sprint CDMA 800/1900 support
  • 5 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • 3.6 inch WVGA (480x800) capacitive touch display
  • 576 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM, and 16GB included memory on a non-removable microSD card
  • Dedicated, touch-sensitive Back, Start, and Search areas
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • FM radio
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 4.61 x 2.32 x 0.61 inches and 6.49 ounces

The HTC Arrive is a fairly typical Windows Phone 7 device and thankfully Microsoft implemented a basic specification requirement that makes every WP7 device quite snappy and very usable. The camera seemed to capture better pictures than other WP7 devices I have used, but I need to test this out some more.

Walk around the hardware

The 3.6 inch display is nothing special in terms of technology, but like the HD7 fonts are crisp and clear and with the smaller size things do look great. Colors are a bit washed out and definitely not as vivid or eye-popping as seen on OLED displays. The display looks a bit small to me when you look at the large area on the front under the display and the area above it. HTC has two areas with metal grills on the top and bottom of the front, similar to the HD7, that make you think there are stereo speakers or something on board. However, this is just for aesthetics and the only loud speaker is on the back. There is obviously a headset speaker on the top for when you hold the phone to your head to talk and there is also an indicator light in the upper mesh area.

The QWERTY keyboard is revealed when you slide the display from left to right. The display slides out flat and then when fully extended it will rest in a notch and then a couple heavy springs will flip it up at about a 45 degree angle. The angle cannot be adjusted as the springs hold it up and make it bounce back if pressed down. There is a bar that extends along the length of the device that also rotates up to support the display while also revealing the notch to pry off the back metal cover. It is a unique slider design that I have not seen elsewhere. The display does have quite a bit of wobble in it as you move through the sliding motion, but I doubt others are really checking out this transition time and it shouldn't be an issue. You need to flatten the display out and then slide it closed from the flat position.

The keyboard itself closely matches the HTC Touch Pro 2 and is the BEST side slider QWERTY keyboard available, in terms of design, key size, and key travel. The major issue on Windows Phone 7 is that Microsoft really did very little in the OS to support this orientation and thus things such as the lock screen, Start screen, application launcher, Music & Videos hub, Games hub, People hub and dialer (really, Microsoft?), Office hub (what!?), Pictures hub, and Bing Maps all appear ONLY in portrait orientation. This makes the device look rather half-baked to me and there is very little that appears in landscape when the keyboard is revealed.

The power button and 3.5mm headset jack appear on the top while just a mic opening is on the bottom.

The required camera capture button is on the lower right with the volume button and microUSB port being on the left side.

The camera, flash, and speaker are all on the back. As is typical for a Windows Phone 7 device, the integrated 16GB microSD card is not accessible and considered integrated memory with no expansion capability.

The device feels great in terms of hardware and is quite solid with lots of metal, soft touch, and glass being used.

Walk through the software

The HTC Arrive runs Windows Phone 7 with the NoDo update. You can check out my extensive Windows Phone 7 guide for discussions on most of the OS and I have written several other articles here about games and other applications. The NoDo update consists of the following three primary aspects:

  • Cut, copy, and paste
  • Improved Marketplace search filters
  • Faster app loading

I talked about and showed these in the video above so check that out for details. The cut, copy, and paste implementation is pretty slick and I look forward to getting it sometime on my Dell Venue Pro and HTC HD7. The ability to filter out songs and albums from the search results is very nice to finally see.

HTC includes their HTC Hub with functions such a a clock and weather information. You will also find their photo and sound enhance utilities pre-loaded with access to more HTC apps in the Marketplace, such as Notes, Flashlight, Attentive Phone (get this installed), and more.

Sprint includes TeleNav GPS Navigator (known as Sprint Navigator on other smartphones) and the Sprint Zone. The Sprint Zone is an area with Sprint News and quick link to your account page, suggested apps (Sprint TV, Sprint Radio, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile), and phone tips and tricks. I like that Sprint lets the user choose what they want to install and think people will like these options.

Pricing and availability

The HTC Arrive will be available from Sprint for $199.99 starting this Sunday, 20 March. This price includes a $100 mail-in rebate. There are no options for 4G data or tethering so there are no additional costs for services that cannot be provided.

Final thoughts on the HTC Arrive

I am a big fan of the Windows Phone 7 operating system and the HTC Arrive is a solid piece of hardware, for the most part. The interim keyboard positions show a bit of sliding and side-to-side movement. However, Windows Phone 7 is not optimized for landscape QWERTY keyboards and the Arrive actually looks a bit ridiculous when you visit the rather large number of hubs and apps that only work in portrait orientation. I could live with some of these things not switching to the right orientation, but it is stupid when the Music & Videos and Office hubs stay in portrait with the display up. Microsoft should have simply told manufacturers they could not release hardware with landscape QWERTY keyboards until they updated the OS to handle them.

It is good to see WP7 coming to CDMA carriers and some may find the WP7 OS compelling enough to live with the limited landscape support.

Other online reviews and first impressions

Here are some other reviews and first impressions articles. Notice that mine may be overly critical of the poor landscape support, but it seems very clunky to me and presents a half-baked device in today's smartphone world.

Editorial standards