updated 09:50 am EST, Thu February 24, 2011
HTC Arrive with Windows Phone 7 official at Sprint
As teased out, Sprint today officially launched its first Windows Phone 7 device, the HTC Arrive. Better known as the 7 Pro elsewhere, the phone revolves around a tilt-slider QWERTY keyboard for faster typing in apps that work in landscape. Sprint's version switches to CDMA and EVDO for its calls and data but also has a Sprint home tile as well as apps for Sprint TV and Movies as well as NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile and a preloaded Netflix app.
The device still centers on a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a five-megapixel camera with 720p movie making. It also carries 802.11n Wi-Fi. Sprint's version is the higher specified of the two capacities on the market and ships with 16GB of built-in storage, although CDMA gives it a strictly average call time of about six hours.
Sprint doesn't expect the Arrive to go on sale until March 20, when it will cost $200 on a two-year contract and after a $100 rebate.
We tried the Arrive's 7 Pro equivalent at Mobile World Congress and had mixed views on the keyboard. While Europeans will be no stranger to the layout, we were reminded that many apps, such as the Xbox games hub, don't invoke landscape mode (at least as of the European version) and can't really be used properly with the keyboard. In the browser, messaging or other areas where it works, though, the keyboard is fairly comfortable and fast-moving. The on-screen keyboard also works well, as it normally does, for writing when the slider is closed.
The build quality of the phone is good though not spectacular, and while slightly thick due to the keyboard, it feels good in the hand. Most of the Sprint differences are strictly limited to the custom software and the US-focused keyboard, so the 7 Pro is a positive sign of what the Arrive will do next month.