HTC Arrive: Video Review

The HTC Arrive is basically the CDMA equivalent of the HTC 7 Pro, and is available on Sprint. It features a large slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a tilt-up screen, and 16 GB of internal storage. Watch our video review of the HTC Arrive embedded above, or continue reading below for the written review below.

Overview

The HTC Arrive is another solid WP7 device, but it does have some disappointments. The screen is really tough to see when you are in direct sunlight, the camera has the typical HTC issues of frame rate problems, and the thickness of the phone is somewhat shocking. However, the benefits do mostly outweigh the negatives, and the Arrive is a great choice for anyone on Sprint. The keyboard is a joy to type on, the screen is vivid (when not outside), and the phone runs butter smooth.

Sprint-exclusive Benefits

While many versions of the HTC 7 Pro offered by other carriers outside of the United States only have 8 GB of internal storage, the Sprint version has 16 GB, plenty of space for your music and games. Also, Sprint includes navigation for free with their data plans, so you can use TeleNav GPS to help you arrive at your destinations. The phone itself costs $200 with a two-year contract, the typical price for new smartphones.

Hardware

The Arrive doesn’t feature anything jaw-dropping, but it does have a nice keyboard. The rest of the specs (1 GHz processor, WVGA capacitive screen, etc) are all the typical WP7 hardware specs. The phone’s appearance is pretty appealing, but the phone is quite thick compared to modern smartphones. It’s even thicker than an original Motorola Droid! However, it is a little thinner than the older HTC Touch Pro 2, which is nice. The phone’s height is basically the same as the HD7, but its width is a little smaller, which makes the screen look odd with all the extra space for the capacitive buttons at the bottom of the phone. However, when you’re just looking at the HTC Arrive alone, it looks perfectly normal.

The back design of the phone doesn’t exactly fit with the front design, since the back has a rugged brushed metallic look while the front aims for a glossy black finish. Nevertheless, the phone feels solid and well built. The camera button is actually easy to press (unlike the HD7) and there is no wiggle space on the buttons (whereas the volume rocker on many HD7’s are loose!)

Keyboard

When you slide out the keyboard, the screen automatically pops up and tilts at an angle. This may feel strange at first, but you will get used to it. It would be nice if the screen pop-up was optional, since some may like typing with the screen flat to the keyboard, but that isn’t too big of a deal. The sliding mechanism feels quite solid after a couple weeks of use. Sliding the keyboard takes little effort, and sliding it back in is easy once you know how it closes. Using the keyboard is usually nice in Windows Phone 7, but there are some instances when it becomes a nuisance, like when you are browsing the web and want to switch tabs. To switch tabs, you have to close the keyboard, tilt the phone upright, switch tabs, and then slide the keyboard back out since Windows Phone 7 hides those buttons while in landscape mode!

The keyboard itself is quite solid, and feels really good. It will take some time before you are fast at typing on the keyboard, but once you use it for a few days, you will most likely love it. However, the on-screen keyboard is just as fast to use, and works well in both portrait and landscape. When I compared the typing speeds, I actually typed faster with the on-screen keyboard than I did with the slide-out keyboard, but they were both very close (about 61 wpm for the on-screen vs 55 wpm for the physical keyboard). For longer sessions of writing, I found myself using the slide-out keyboard since it simply has more precision.

Screen

The screen looks crisp and clear. Text is really sharp since the screen has the same resolution as all WP7 devices but is only 3.6” diagonally, which is smaller than most. The smaller screen size feels alright, but people with bad eyes may want to opt for a WP7 device with a larger screen so the text is bigger. And there are a few more negatives about the screen. One problem is that you can barely see the screen in daylight. The sunlight severely lowers your visibility of the screen just like it does on the HD7 (and any other HTC WP7 device most likely), and can be a big issue. Another problem is the gradients on the screen. The phone must have the software set to 16-bit instead of 32-bit, since gradients show up choppy instead of smooth. This could be fixed by a simple software update, but is a bit disappointing to see when you just bought a brand new phone. Otherwise, the display is vibrant and sharp.

Camera

The camera on the HTC Arrive is a 5 megapixel camera and it takes decent pictures. It

Click the image to enlarge it and notice the sub-par quality of the camera.
still suffers from the usual HTC camera problems – It can’t record video at a decent frame rate when you’re in an area with lower than usual lighting, and you have to be perfectly steady when taking a picture or else the picture will come out severely motion-blurred. Overall, it is similar to the HD7’s camera. The flash is pretty bright, but not as bright as the HD7’s dual LED flash. However, it gets the job done and acts as a decent flashlight.

Speakers/Music

The speakers for music are a lot louder compared to the HD7. They actually play at a reasonable volume like any smartphone should. Music also sounded a lot better quality wise through the Arrive than it did through the HD7, both through the built-in speakers and through wired speakers. The sound quality is about on par with the Zune HD.

Software

The HTC Arrive runs Windows Phone 7, which is a new operating system and is completely unrelated to Windows Mobile 6. Check out our Windows Phone 7 OS review for more information on the interface, software, and more. WP7 features Zune integration (with a Zune Pass you can stream music straight to your phone), Xbox Live games, a fresh and innovative interface, and a growing app store. The HTC Arrive comes with NoDo pre-loaded (the latest version of WP7), so your games load fast and the Marketplace doesn’t crash. This also means you have copy/paste out of the gate. Copy/paste works extremely well, and actually made my Android-using friend jealous since it is so fast and simple to use. The slide-out keyboard also includes arrow keys that let you navigate the cursor, which is a great touch since placing the cursor right where you want it can sometimes be a challenge in WP7.

Battery Life

Battery life isn’t the best, but the battery seemed to last longer than the HD7. I could make it through the entire day with moderate to heavy use on a single charge, unlike on the HD7 where I would be looking for a charger in the afternoon. If you use the phone very lightly, you could probably last 2 days before charging it. Overall, the battery isn’t impressive, but it lasts as long as smartphone batteries should.

Sprint Service

The internet speeds felt pretty fast and were extremely reliable. Unlike T-Mobile, where data seems to randomly stop working for me, Sprint’s data constantly worked every time I used the phone. I won’t get into any speed comparisons because it is a well known fact that data speeds will vary depending on which city you live in. However, I can say that I never felt a need to turn on WiFi, since the data was always fast and reliable. I also found that Sprint’s coverage was very good for my area, but that will vary individually with every one’s geographic location.

Call Quality

Calls sound pretty good on the HTC Arrive, and you could hear the calls perfectly since the earpiece is set at a good volume. The speakerphone also works really well on the Arrive. When we tested the call quality, both the HD7 and Arrive sounded basically identical, but when on speakerphone, the Arrive sounded better and it was less obvious that we were talking through a speakerphone. There were no complaints from our recipients of the calls, and they were all pleased with how our voice sounded. The phone also doesn’t have any major signal degradation, so you can hold it just about any way and it picks up a signal.

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