HTC Arrive

My cell phone provider is Sprint, so I know I’m a little behind the curve on finally getting a new Windows 7 phone. However, after having used the Motorola Q (with Windows 6) for the last 3.5 years, I feel like I finally joined the 21st century by getting a new HTC Arrive phone. I finally have a phone that can run custom apps, just like an iPhone or Android phone. (Glory, hallelujah!) I only got the phone on Saturday so I’ve had just one week to play with it. I thought I’d pass along my thoughts on the phone.

First of all, I’d like to say that I’m rather disappointed in Sprint, in the sense that they are completely and utterly on the Android kick (I suppose because AT&T and Verizon have gone down the iPhone route). Their homepage advertises about 5 Android phones. You have to search and dig through their site to find the HTC Arrive, their only Windows 7 phone. to be perfectly honest, I bought this phone because it was my only option. I wish Sprint had put a little more stock in Windows 7 Phone. Furthermore, by getting a new phone, Sprint decided to charge me an additional $10/month for my data plan. Not cool.

Obviously, my favorite thing about the phone is that it can run any number of applications. Clearly, this is the differentiator for all phone platforms nowadays. (There were a few apps for Windows 6, but I felt like, quite often, once the web site or the API that an app depended on changed, no one bothered to update the Windows Phone app, so it became obsolete or deprecated. This was the case with the Facebook app on Windows 6.) It’s nice to have brand new apps that work with the current version of web sites, like Facebook and YouTube.

Apps aside, the primary reason I use my phone is for calling, texting, and e-mailing. I have an Exchange account for my work e-mail, I have a Yahoo e-mail account for my personal e-mail. On my old phone, being notified of new Outlook messages was great; I got a notification right away with each new e-mail. However, to check my personal e-mail, I had to use my mobile browser to browse to the Yahoo! Mail site and get my e-mail. I never had any way of knowing if there was new e-mail or not. Now, I have a notification right on the home screen of my phone that tells me if I have new messages, regardless of whether the account if Exchange, POP3, Yahoo!, Hotmail, or whatever.

I also really like how the phone combines different contact information seemlessly. Instead of having a “Contacts” list, I have a “People” list that will show a single entry for people, which aggregates their contact info (such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses) from Outlook and Facebook, and also shows me their Facebook photo and Facebook status. It’s nice to have a one-stop-shop for my contact information. Along those lines, older phones made you take pictures of people and store it in the phone, or else upload that picture to Outlook, for that picture to come across in your contact list. I like that the phone just picks up a person’s Facebook picture for you and uses it.

There are a couple things that bother me about this, phone, though. The most glaring is that I’m used to pressing a button on the front of the phone to turn the screen on instantly. This phone requires you to actually press a power button that sits on the top of the phone, not so easily accessible (in my opinion). That’s annoying; if I want to use my phone, I just want to be able to pick it up, touch the screen, and have the phone activate. I don’t want to have to press a button to turn it on. Now, if I get a call, the phone turns on so I can touch the screen to answer it. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t do that if I get a new e-mail message. In that case, I hear a sound alerting me to a new message, but I still have to manually press the power button to turn on the phone. (If there is a setting on the phone I’m missing, which would change this behavior, I would love to have someone share that with me!)

A small pet-peeve, which has more to do with app-builders than the phone, perhaps, is that when you change the phone’s position, not all the screens will switch to render in landscape mode.

The final thing that I would say is both a plus and a minus is the slide-out keyboard. On the one hand, I like having physical keys to press, since I’m not such a big fan of on-screen touch keys. However, the extra keyboard actually adds quite a bit of weight and size to the phone which I’d rather not have.

If I ever get some free time (which never seems to happen!) I might just write an app for my new phone.

If anyone else has this phone, I’d be curious what your assessment of it is.

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