Sprint has introduced its first-ever Windows Phone 7 smartphone, the HTC Arrive. The device includes a sliding QWERTY keyboard and tilt-up display, along with the inevitable handful of carrier-specific applications.
More importantly for Microsoft's aspirations in the smartphone space, the HTC Arrive is the first device to appear on a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) carrier, as opposed to GSM-based ones such as AT&T and T-Mobile.
As with Windows Phone 7 devices on other carriers, the HTC Arrive follows Microsoft's stringently enforced minimum hardware requirements, including a 5-megapixel camera and 1GHz Snapdragon processor. It features a 3.6-inch capacitive touch-screen display (with 800 by 480 resolution), 16GB of internal memory, and advertised talk time of up to 6 hours.
Sprint will make the HTC Arrive available March 20, for $199 with a two-year contract.
Windows Phone 7 appeared first on GSM-based networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile, with Microsoft predicting the software's later availability on CDMA networks such as Verizon and Sprint.
"In developing Windows Phone 7, we are placing high-quality customer experiences above all else," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a September e-mail to eWEEK, weeks before the first Windows Phone 7 devices launched in the United States. "In keeping with this goal, Microsoft chose to focus on delivering a great GSM version to the world first, and then a great CDMA version in the first half of 2011."
For Microsoft, Windows Phone 7's spread to CDMA will open a new competitive front in what promises to be a protracted competition with Google Android, the Apple iPhone and other rivals. Verizon, also a CDMA carrier, will likely follow Sprint in short order.
As opposed to Android devices or the iPhone, whose user interfaces center on grid-like screens of individual applications, Windows Phone 7 consolidates Web content and applications into six subject-specific Hubs such as "People" and "Games." Microsoft hopes the uniqueness of that user interface, combined with a growing ecosystem of third-party applications, will allow it to reverse its declining share in the smartphone market.
At February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 software updates for the second half of 2011, including multitasking, Twitter integration with the "People" Hub, and Office document and storage via Windows Live Skydrive. Those will follow an update, scheduled for sometime in the first two weeks of March, which will add a cut-and-paste feature and faster application loading.
In the meantime, however, Microsoft is still reeling from the fallout of its first update, meant to smooth the way for future updates, which reportedly stalled or "bricked" some 10 percent of users' devices.