- Comfortable size
- Excellent display
- Responsive performance
- Very good voice quality
- Keyboard may not be right for some
- Disappointing camera
- Hit or miss navigation experience
If you're looking for a great voice phone with a good gaming and entertainment experience, the HTC Arrive deserves a look.
The HTC Arrive is the first Microsoft Windows Phone 7 device offered by Sprint. This model has a 3.6-inch WVGA touchscreen display, a physical QWERTY keyboard, a 1GHz Qualcomm processor, and a 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with LED flash.
It is currently available from Sprint for $200 with a two-year contract, or $450 without one.
BUILD & DESIGN
The HTC Arrive isn’t the prettiest phone I’ve ever seen, but it has a certain retro, blocky sort of appeal. From the front, the Arrive doesn’t have much to set it apart from most of its competitors. It’s mainly black, with three buttons under the display. If you look closely, you’ll see a long, narrow speaker grille at the top and bottom of the phone, surrounding the display.
The Arrive isn’t the largest phone on the market since it has a 3.6-inch screen, slightly smaller when compared to some of the 4.3-inch behemoths currently available. Overall, the phone measures 4.6-inches long and 2.3-inches wide, which is a good size.
Since the Arrive has a physical QWERTY keyboard located under the screen, it is significantly thicker than a comparable touchscreen-only phone. It measures just over six tenths of an inch thick, which doesn’t sound like much but is definitely noticeable when compared to the recent crop of ultra-thin mobile phones.
Even so, I found the Arrive to be very comfortable in the hand because it just fits. It is a little slippery to hold on to, since the back is mostly smooth platinum grey plastic. The top and bottom of the back side are rubberized black material that helps improve the grip and lends the Arrive some of its retro appeal.
Even though the WVGA (800 x 480) display is a little smaller than some, it’s still excellent. The color reproduction is outstanding, with bright, vivid colors and true black tones. Even upon very close examination, I can’t detect any pixelization, and it looks great no matter what you’re doing, from surfing the web to looking at photos and videos.
The display does wash out somewhat in direct sunlight, but the screen is still visible even then, just with more muted colors. Of course it helps that all of the Windows Phone 7 menus, displays, and apps, are so vivid, with high contrast colors.
The physical QWERTY keyboard is located under the display; just press the top of the phone to the right to access it. You can even do it one-handed if you like, since the slider mechanism works so perfectly. You’ll find that the display “pops up” into an angled position that makes it much easier to see when you’re trying to compose a message.
It’s hard for me to pass judgment on this keyboard. I really want to like it, since it’s so large and well-illuminated for use in low-light situations. Even with practice, however, it just isn’t for me.
The keys are quite spacious, and are made of a soft, rubberized material that is easy on fingertips that may be sore from too much texting. The problem is that there isn’t really much definition on each key, so it’s difficult to tell what key you’re hitting unless you’re actually looking at the keyboard.
The space bar is also either a little too short or just in a slightly awkward position, because I have to really stretch my right thumb to reach it when I’m typing out a text message.
All of this is a matter of personal preference, however, and I suspect that folks who are less dependent on physical feedback (or just have longer fingers) will like this keyboard much better than I do.
Other Buttons & Controls
The headphone jack and power button are on the top edge of the phone, above the display. The volume button is on the left side, as is fairly standard these days, though I was disappointed by how hard it was to operate. There’s nothing too distinct about it, so sometimes I turned the volume up when I was aiming for the opposite effect.
The charge/sync port is on the bottom left side, and the camera button is on the bottom right side. As I mentioned in the first-look review I did for this device, the camera button is in an absolutely terrible position. It’s very hard to activate, and the awkward position caused me to drop the phone when I was trying to take a picture. Even when I’m able to keep my grip, I find that my finger really wants to slip off of the camera button, and it’s very hard to hold the phone steady long enough to capture the shot.