HTC Arrive Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Windows Phone 7 launched last fall, but without CDMA support a vast majority of users in the US have yet to be exposed to the complete overhaul of Windows Mobile. This drought has come to the end with the launch of the HTC Arrive for Sprint. Though this is the first CDMA Windows Phone 7 (WP7), it is middle of the pack in terms of features. That said, all WP7 devices are generously spec’d so the Arrive is hardly underpowered. Featured specs include a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a crisp 480x800 3.6” display, 16GB of storage and a 5 megapixel camera with flash capable of recording 720p HD video. The HTC Arrive also comes with the latest version of WP7, allowing users to copy and paste. Included with the Arrive you’ll get a 1500mAh battery, microUSB cable and AC wall adapter.

Design:

At first glance the HTC Arrive is very similar to the HTC EVO Shift 4G, but after just a few minutes of using the Arrive it is apparent that the quality is higher. For starters the materials used are better. The EVO Shift is by no means poorly constructed (quite the opposite) but the HTC Arrive is just extremely well put together. The two phones share a 3.6” WVGA display, but the Arrive has 16 million colors to the Shift’s 65K. The Arrive has the 3 capacitive WP7 buttons below (Back, Home and Search.) HTC has long been making subtle design touches, and with the Arrive it is a matching mesh grill above and below the display. Nothing major, in fact most people wouldn’t even notice, but we appreciate the attention to detail nonetheless.



You can compare the HTC Arrive with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The metal battery door is a nice touch, and another little detail is that the notch to open it is only accessible when the slide is opened, preventing the door coming off when in your pocket or a bag. The gunmetal grey door contrasts with rest of the dark grey soft touch backing. At the top is the 5MP camera and LED flash, and a good looking speaker to the right of the camera. Near the bottom of the phone is a single screw that overlaps the battery door (it doesn’t interfere) that adds an industrial touch to the HTC Arrive.


The right side of the Arrive simply has the camera button at the bottom, to the left is an uncovered microUSB port and the volume rocker is towards the top of the left side. The Arrive’s top edge has a 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button. When you slide the Arrive open the top half comes to rest in a notch. This serves to make the phone sturdier when opened because it is anchored better, and also serves to prevent the slider from trying to close when it is just bumped a bit. It’s a very cool trick and we love the feel of the slide, mostly because of this nifty mechanism.


Opening the HTC Arrive exposes the 5-row QWERTY keyboard. The tactile feel is much like the EVO Shift 4G, but the usability of the Arrive’s keyboard is much better.  The keys are sized perfectly, and even though the Arrive has 5 rows to the EVO Shift’s 4 rows it does not feel cramped at all. We appreciate the extra keys and were typing out messages quickly from the get go.


All around the HTC Arrive is very well put together. In fact, EVO Shift users will probably be jealous because just about everything on the Arrive is designed better than the Shift. HTC has made its name by building high quality handsets and the Arrive wears the HTC moniker proudly.



HTC Arrive 360-degree View:





Interface and Functionality:

Windows Phone 7 is new and beautiful and minimalistic, but it isn’t all that customizable. The user can choose what tiles are displayed on the home screen and the order they are in, but in terms of manufacturer customization Microsoft has shut the door (for now.) HTC offers the HTC Hub app, which brings some feel of Sense to the device, but this has to be launched as an app and overall all WP7 devices feel the same.


For those unfamiliar with the Metro UI we’ll keep it basic; the WP7 homescreen is a collection of tiles that are capable of delivering information, such as unread texts, calendar events or the weather, or just play neat animations from time to time. Much like Android, your home screen can consist of Live Tiles (tiles that deliver info, like widgets) or app shortcuts (tiles that simply launch the app) but since they are all either 1x1 or 2x1, the look is pretty monotonous. The Zune-style menus feature overreaching graphics and text that runs off screen, which makes for a very cool and modern interface. It takes a few minutes to orientate oneself to this new OS, but to any experienced smartphone user the overall navigation shouldn’t be too perplexing.


One major element of WP7 is integration, so there is a People app instead of your traditional phonebook. Yes, the People app has a phonebook element to it, but it also has a What’s New section, which gives you a Facebook feed for your contacts. The Music and Video app is a player for your downloaded music and videos, but also a home for any music or video related app you download from the Marketplace. Elements like this show us that Microsoft gets it this time around, and WP7 is in a very good position to succeed if given a chance.


The HTC Arrive features the newest version of WP7, which includes an improved Marketplace search, faster load times for apps and most noticeably copy and paste. The copy and paste feature is probably one of the best implementations we’ve seen on a smartphone; simply tap the word you want and it is highlighted. You can then drag the slider bars on either side to select more words and finally tap the icon that sits above the highlighted area to copy. Since it is so easy we actually found ourselves selecting words when we didn’t mean to, but there is no downside to this so it was a minor issue.

For those wanting a more detailed look at the operating system, see our Windows Phone 7 walkthrough.

The Arrive runs the OS flawlessly. Microsoft learned an important lesion from Windows Mobile and is now requiring minimum hardware specs to ensure a smooth performance. Menu transitions are fluid, there is no lag and when you press something it reacts. Just how we like it!



Messaging, Browser, Connectivity and Software:

Messaging is pretty much as you would expect it to be, and the onscreen keyboard is a quite good compliment to the excellent physical one. SMS/MMS is threaded, and email works much like it would in Outlook. On the email front we feel WP7 is a bit lacking, but then again we’re used to the great features Gmail offers. Email just feels a bit dated, and attaching files is a bit frustrating. From the email itself you can only attach pictures. To attach an Office document, for example, you’d have to send it from Office and you can only attach one at a time, meaning multiple emails if you have multiple attachments. Hopefully this will be something Microsoft addresses in future updates, but since Hotmail is still pretty low-tech we don’t have high hopes. Still, for all but the most advanced emailers the app works just fine.


Speaking of Office, it is one of the featured elements of WP7. Again, we won’t go into much detail since we’ve covered it before, but simply put it’s the best implementation of Office on mobile. Even though WP7 is focused on the younger, tech savvy consumer they have a very strong play at the corporate market with the Office offerings. The phone of course syncs with Outlook just fine, but these days more and more users turn to Google for contact and calendar management. When we signed into our Gmail account contacts came through the People app just fine, but Google calendar information was unfortunately not synced.

Other included software is pretty basic- things like a calculator, calendar, etc.,- but there are now over 10,000 apps available in the Marketplace. This number pales in comparison to the App Store and Android Market, but it’s a good start considering RIM is right there with them, and Palm- er, HP- is still thousands behind.


Xbox live is a huge coup for Microsoft and WP7. You can sign in using your existing gamertag and access information like your achievements. To make it clear this is not Xbox on your phone, but games are pretty high quality and are often integrated with the Xbox arcade. For the hardcore gamers this makes WP7 a big draw.


Like the Metro UI, the browser is fast, well laid out and minimalistic, but it lacks Flash support which hurts it. Hopefully we’ll see the Mango update sooner rather than later, but in the meantime we’d love to see Skyfire come out with a WP7 browser like they did with Windows Mobile (and later other smartphone OS’s.)


The HTC Arrive is a 3G CDMA device running off Sprint’s EVDO Rev. A network. It also has GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR with support for the HSP 1.1, HFP 1.5, PBA, A2DP 1.2 and AVRC profiles. GPS locks were quick and Bing Maps works very well. The Arrive runs on the Qualcomm QSD8650 Snapdragon processor at 1GHz and has 512MB of ROM and 576MB of RAM. The user has 16GB of internal storage, but as with most WP7 phones this is not user accessible and cannot be upgraded. It should be noted that all of these memory stats are greater than the Arrive’s GSM brother, the HTC Pro 7.

Camera and Multimedia:

We’re not a big fan of the multimedia sync option on WP7 because you have to use Zune software and there is no true manual control of the phone. It does not show up as a removable drive so you’re forced to use the Zune software, which is decent and offers Wi-Fi syncing, but it doesn’t always work. For example, we couldn’t load any music onto the Arrive. The process is supposed to be simple, the user simply drags the files they want to sync onto the phone icon when in the music tab in the Zune software, except that when we did that we were told that nothing could be dropped there (or anywhere in the software, that we could tell.)

The 5 megapixel camera was also a bit of a disappointment. Images frequently turned out blurry and flat. Colors were good, but with both indoor and outdoor lighting the images just seemed off. Focusing took a few seconds and the shutter is not extremely quick, so there can be a delay of up to 5s between pictures, slightly longer when using the camera from a cold start. The only real options offered are metering mode and flicker adjustment, as well as resolution. Thevideo camera was similarly flat and the recording volume was quite low (there was music playing during our test video, but it was not picked up by the Arrive.) All-in-all there is some work that needs to be done.





HTC Arrive Sample Video:



Performance and Conclusion:

Callers were not impressed with the HTC Arrive, calling it “one of the lesser quality phones we’ve tested.” They complained of a lot of hollowness and a buzzing sound throughout the cal, and gave it an overall rating of 7.5/10. On our end the earpiece could be harsh at times, but we had no problems hearing them. The speakerphone was particularly good and loud. We wouldn’t be quite as critical as they were, but there are definitely better phones in Sprint’s lineup. Battery life is rated for 6 hours of talk time, which is pretty typical for a CDMA smartphone these days.

In the end Windows Phone 7 is a work in progress, but off to a good start. As noted we had issues with multimedia sync which shows that there are still kinks that need to be worked out. Since all Windows Phones are basically identical on the software end, it’s the hardware that differentiates them. The HTC Arrive is one of the better built phones we’ve used, and we love the size, physical keyboard and trick hinge. The camera left some to be desired, but overall it’s a win. Right now HTC has a captive audience in the CDMA works, but when other WP7 devices are released they have a pretty high hardware bar to achieve.

HTC Arrive Video Review:





Pros

  • Great keyboard
  • Good display with a neat hinge mechanism
  • Contemporary, modern styling
  • Well-built

Cons

  • Camera could be better
  • Multimedia sync didn’t work for us with no option to manually manage the device
  • WP7 has a lot of catching up to do with Android and iOS

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

User Rating:

9.0
8 Reviews

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