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HTC Arrive (Sprint) review: HTC Arrive (Sprint)

HTC Arrive (Sprint)

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Jessica Dolcourt
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Jessica Dolcourt

Editorial Director / CNET Money, How-To & Performance Optimization

Jessica Dolcourt leads the CNET Money, How-To, and Performance teams. A California native who grew up in Silicon Valley, she's passionate about connecting people with the highest standard of advice to help them reach their goals.

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7 min read

Editors' note: This review focuses on the HTC Arrive's design, performance, and differentiating features. For more on its operating system and core functions, please read our full review of Windows Phone 7.

HTC Arrive (Sprint)
8.0

HTC Arrive (Sprint)

The Good

The <b>HTC Arrive</b> features a durable design with a responsive QWERTY keyboard and a tilting screen. It's the first Windows Phone 7 device to ship with Microsoft's cut-and-paste feature.

The Bad

The HTC Arrive's heavy and bulky body will weigh some people down, and it requires some pressure to slide open the keyboard. Its camera could be better, and we were hoping for 4G WiMax support.

The Bottom Line

The HTC Arrive, Sprint's first Windows 7 phone, is a solid effort that largely delivers, although it will disappoint those looking for a 4G smartphone.

First known as the HTC 7 Pro at its New York unveiling, the HTC Arrive is Sprint's inaugural foray into the brave new world of Windows Phone 7. And the Arrive also represents two other minor "firsts": it's the first CDMA Windows Phone 7 phone in the United States, and it's the first Windows Phone 7 model to ship with Microsoft's cut-and-paste update.

As a result there's a lot riding on the Arrive's rounded shoulders, and for the most part it succeeds in carrying that weight. Like the HTC Surround, the Arrive is a thick chunk of handset, but that extra bulk makes possible a responsive keyboard and a screen that tilts for optimal typing and media consumption. While the data speeds are fine, we were a little disappointed that 4G WiMax isn't an option.

While there's a lot to like, the Arrive also has its drawbacks, some having to do with the handset's construction and some stemming from the Windows Phone 7 OS. For the most part, though, it acquits itself well as a Sprint newcomer.

Design
The HTC Arrive looks good, and looks strong. Rimmed with shiny, dark-gray paint, the handset has a glossy appearance and feel. It has barely rounded corners, like the iPhone 4, and two cutouts that reveal the front-facing speakers. On the back, a swath of brushed stainless steel and a decorative screw reveal that this is not a phone to be trifled with. And if there were any doubt, the phone's dimensions (4.6 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide, 0.6 inch thick) and weight (a whopping 6.4 ounces, nearly half a pound)--attest that the Arrive is one brick of a phone. Its bulk makes it a bit less comfortable to slip into a pocket, but you won't have to worry much if you drop it. We noticed, however, that the gray paint that rings the face easily flaked off in our bags and under our nail.


The HTC Arrive is Sprint's first Windows Phone 7 phone, and the first to ship with copy and paste installed.

At 3.6 inches, the WVGA capacitive touch screen is slightly smaller than that of the HTC Surround, but has the same 800x480-pixel resolution. While it's a fine screen that shows off bright colors and sharp edges, it doesn't have the richness or pop of the Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Focus.

Below the screen are three touch-sensitive buttons for Back, Home, and Bing search. A camera trigger button is on the right spine, and the Micro-USB charger and a large volume rocker are on the left. Up top there's a standard 3.5-millimeter headset jack and the power button. The Arrive's back houses a 5-megapixel camera and a flash. As with all Windows 7 phones, there's no card slot for expanding the phone's memory, but the 16GB built-in storage should be enough for most casual users' needs.

More than anything else, what makes the HTC Arrive stand out is its tilting screen. HTC is no stranger to this design; it brought us the AT&T Tilt and HTC Tilt 2, much ballyhooed back in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Those two handsets ran Microsoft's earlier Windows mobile operating systems.

As with its predecessors, the Arrive's screen slides out to expose a full QWERTY keyboard before tilting up 30 degrees (previous models tilted up 40 degrees.) You simply push the front face flat and slide it back over the keyboard when you're done. It takes a fair amount of pressure to open, and our thumb kept slipping on the phone's square design on our first few tries. The Arrive's tilting mechanism appears to be fairly sturdy, and makes a metallic click when you lay the face flat.

The tilted display is best when you're typing with the phone in your hand or setting it down to watch a video play; be aware, however, that the handset will rock back slightly if you put it down and then tap on the screen in the open position.

Below the display, the Arrive's keyboard manages to be spacious without being overly wide. Keys are fully separated, but barely rise above the surface. The backlit buttons are smooth and very responsive, although a skosh less comfortable than buttons with a more rubbery feel. There are dedicated buttons for emoticons and diacritical marks, and for adding currency symbols for euros and pound sterling.

Interface
We've examined Windows Phone 7 in depth elsewhere, but there are several features worth noting here. First, the Arrive comes with Microsoft's copy/paste feature installed, the first Windows Phone 7 device to ship with it. Touching a word on a Web page or in a document presents tags that you can easily drag to select an area. Highlighting a word also causes a "copy" icon to pop up. Tapping it then saves the selected text to the clipboard for later pasting. Finally, a "paste" icon appears when you tap an input field, like a Word document or a search field.


Unfortunately, some screens still don't convert to landscape mode.

Copy/paste works intuitively and smoothly, and we love the visual panache. You can paste the same text multiple times. However, the functionality isn't strictly systemwide, although it does appear in the obvious locations, like the browser, e-mail, documents, maps, contact cards, and search results. For instance, copy/paste doesn't appear as an option in some of the settings menus, so you can't use it when configuring your e-mail--something we could do with both Android and iOS.

Microsoft's virtual keyboard continues to impress us with its responsiveness and accuracy, despite the fact that the Arrive has a smaller screen than other Windows Phone 7 phones like the Focus.

Yet, it continues to irk us that Microsoft stubbornly and, in our opinion, foolishly keeps many significant application menus and screens frozen in portrait mode. It creates a work-flow problem we encountered time and again on the Arrive and on other handsets. For instance, if you're composing something in landscape mode but want to open a complementary app from the Start screen or reference some data in an Office document, you either have to turn the phone to read the portrait-only menu, or get good at reading sideways.

Features
Like any good smartphone, the HTC Arrive provides all the basics and more. Microsoft earns kudos for merging contact information from various e-mail accounts and social-networking sites, such as Facebook, Windows Live, Exchange, and Gmail. As with other mobile platforms, the merge often creates duplicates, though we experienced fewer here than we have with previous Windows phones.


The stainless-steel battery cover adds some sturdiness and panache. Don't worry; the 'screw' is solely decorative.

However, we continue to yearn for more features in the People hub, like Twitter integration, automatic Facebook sign-in in case you need to leave the hub to visit Facebook, and a category for viewing and quickly dialing favorite contacts.

Beyond the address book, there's an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS. You can access multiple e-mail accounts, as mentioned above, plus Bing Maps, a music and video hub, and TeleNav turn-by-turn voice navigation. In addition to Windows Marketplace, there's HTC's hub for grabbing featured apps, like Sound Enhancer, a stocks app, and a YouTube app. Sprint also gets in the game with a Sprint hub featuring news, a shortcut to your account, and Sprint's own app suggestions.


Photo quality was fairly good with the Arrive, even indoors. A brownish hue can be seen in this studio image.

As with the HTC Surround, the Arrive's 5-megapixel camera has a flash and HD video capture that can record up to 720p. It also has a small stable of editing options, including flicker adjustment, but the Arrive doesn't compare to the Samsung Focus in terms of photo options. Photo quality was decent, producing sharp edges with colors that were usually true to life, even indoors. Some photos were a little fuzzy and grainy, however, and the camera's flash threatened to overexpose. (You can compare and contrast cameras in our photo gallery.) Videos were also hazy. A photo enhancer app lets you add color effects after the fact. In addition to the phone's 16GB storage, there's also the option of storing photos on SkyDrive, the Windows Live cloud-based service that gives you 25GB extra of online storage.

Performance
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) HTC Arrive in San Francisco using Sprint's network. For the most part, calls were clear on our end of the line, with good vocal fidelity that produced natural-sounding voices. Volume on those calls was loud, almost uncomfortably so. We experienced small amounts of distortion reminiscent of someone tossing pebbles into a puddle. A few calls sounded muffled and indistinct.

On our callers' end, voices sounded mostly clear. Some callers said we were too loud, while another described us as distant. During times of mild distortion, one caller said it sounded like we "gargled."

Speakerphone calls were clear and fairly loud on both ends. We had to boost the volume a bit to hear, but the result didn't sound tinny or hollow as on some phones.

HTC Arrive call quality sample Listen now: "="">

The Arrive works on Sprint's 3G EV-DO data network. Internet Explorer loaded CNET's mobile site in roughly 5 seconds and the full CNET site in close to 20 seconds. It took 12 seconds to render NYTimes.com.

Other actions were fairly speedy thanks to the Arrive's 1GHz Qualcomm processor. That's not to say there weren't moments where it lagged, but on the whole we had few complaints about slowness.

The Arrive uses a 1,500-mAh lithium ion battery and has a rated battery life of 6 hours of talk time. FCC radiation tests measured a digital SAR of 0.72 watts per kilogram.

Conclusion
Windows Phone 7 may face an uphill battle against Android's and iOS' momentum, but reliable handsets like the HTC Arrive will make the OS an attractive alternative for Sprint customers. Although heavy, the Arrive is durable, and its tilting screen and comfortable keyboard lend the phone a more premium feel. While not everyone will love the smartphone's bulk, its reliability and good call quality make it a noble effort as the network's first Windows Phone 7 device. After a $100 mail-in rebate, the Arrive costs $199.99 with an "Everything" plan and a new two-year service agreement.

HTC Arrive (Sprint)
8.0

HTC Arrive (Sprint)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8