Windows Phone 7 Review (HTC Arrive)

So, do you remember when I wrote off Windows Phone 7 as not functional enough for my needs?  I take it back.  I take it ALL back.  This is part of the problem with phone review units that I get.  Typically I’m not going to switch carriers, just to review a phone.  I’m not going to just carry around the review unit, because all of my information and the phone number that everyone has is on my main phone.  Which mainly just forces me to “play” with the review phone rather than actually USE the review phone.  I do believe this can skew some of my reviews.  Luckily, I was given another shot at Windows Phone 7.  When the HTC Arrive came to Sprint, I had done a little bit of research, and decided to grab an HTC EVO Shift for myself.  I really did love that phone.  Android is an excellent operating system.  What can I say though, I’m a Microsoft girl at heart.

Thanks to HTC and Qualcomm, I was able to get my second shot at Windows Phone 7.  During BlogHer I was given 2 HTC Arrives.  Luckily my sister and I both have Sprint (which is the carrier this phone lives on).  I started to set up one of the phones for my sister, since she had a really cheap smartphone.  I was planning on just giving the second Arrive away.  As I set my sister’s new phone up, I started to really fall in love with the operating system, Windows Phone 7.  Once I was done setting her up, I decided to give it a real shot, and transferred my phone number to the Arrive.  Keeping the HTC EVO Shift on hand, just in case I needed to switch back after a few weeks.  It’s been a few MONTHS now and there’s no way I’d go back!

Microsoft has just released the latest version of the Windows Phone 7 operating system, (which was code named “Mango”).  I have been itching to get my hands on this for quite a while, as it brings some much needed fixes and functionality to an already pretty great operating system.  Here is a brief rundown of my favorite features…

1. Integrated Messaging.  When I’m out and about, my sister can start a Facebook chat with me, and it will come to my phone as a text message.  If I want to reply I can choose to send her a text to her phone, or reply via Facebook.  All of the Facebook messages and text chats are all integrated into a single space, so I can continue a conversation from where I left off on my computer, or continue it on my computer once I arrive home.  I love that it’s just all in one place.

2. It’s “anti-app”.  This is something that I didn’t actually GET until Mango came out.  Maybe it just didn’t work as well prior to the update, or maybe I was just blind before.  I kept opening up the Twitter and Facebook apps, and my Seesmic app, and praying for the day when HootSuite would come to Windows Phone 7, until the day I realized I can open up the “Me” Hub, and see activity from all of the above RIGHT THERE!  I can see my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn notifications.  I can check in on Foursquare or post a status update to all of the above services.  No need to open a special app, it’s all just integrated into the operating system.

3. Integrated Inbox.  Are you noticing an “integrated” theme up in here?  Yeah!  Before the Mango update was released I had to open about 5 different tiles as different times to check all my email addresses.  Yes I know I have a domain purchasing illness.  I’m trying to get help for it.  Now I have all of my emails joined together into one nice little inbox on my phone, just like in my beloved Outlook!

4. Dedicated Camera Button.  There’s nothing like capturing the perfect moment on your phone.  With a dedicated button reserved to get to your camera in the shortest amount of time, even while the camera is off is worth it!  I mean just look at that shot of my son I got with my phone!  2 year olds just don’t pose.  If you don’t have that camera super easy to get to, the “Kodak moment” will pass you by!

5. Zune!  I won’t beat around the bush here.  I LOVE my Zune!  Such a bummer that they are no longer manufacturing it.  It is by far the best software for music on a PC.  I have a Zune Pass, and can often be found downloading songs and creating playlists while watching one of those VH1’s top 100 blah blah blah shows.  With my Zune Pass I can create these playlists and listen to these songs again and again, and I get 10 free songs each month to download and keep forever!  It was always nice to browse through music on the player, but it needed wifi.  Now I can browse through the Zune Marketplace whenever I want, and download songs like my recent song of choice… Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga.

What’s not so great still?

1. Google Calendar integration is still an issue.  At least for me.  There were some tutorials I found to work around the problem (the problem being that it will only sync your default Google Calendar, and not any additional ones), but those tutorials didn’t resolve the issue for me.  I just decided to bite the bullet and move everything over to Windows Live Calendars.  Truthfully just between you and me… I like them more!  It integrates so much better with my Outlook.  With Google Calendar I can only view the appts in Outlook, but could not add or make changes.  With all my calendars now on Windows Live Calendars I can sync pretty seamlessly between my online calendar an my Outlook.  It makes me happy.

2. I wish there was an EASIER way to create ringtones from mp3’s already loaded onto the phone.  I have been able to cobble together my ringtones using some software on my computer, but this really could be improved or added to the operating system.

3. The Calendar “live tile” should have a few more items.  It has the date, and your next appointment.  I’d like to see it have a few appointments, or even the option to make the tile a little longer to accommodate at least 4-5 upcoming appointments.  What can I say, I like to plan ahead.  If I have a doctor’s appointment RIGHT AFTER my next appointment, I wouldn’t really know it’s there until I’m done with the current appointment.  There is real estate there, and I’d love to see it utilized.

So, there you have it.  The most beautiful operating system on a phone!  Make sure to check out the video for a tour of some of these features and MORE!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.



About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website


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  • I just wanted to share my experience with the Arrive. I have had it since March 2011 (It succeeded the HTC Touch Pro II running Windows 6.5) and I have been a loyal Windows Phone User since 2004.

    Sarah does an excellent job highlighting MOS and all that it has to offer. From a practical standpoint I wanted to add the aspect of “Convergence”. The ever evolving goal of Microsoft is to tie ALL of your media into a single solution that runs across ALL of your devices. With Windows Phone 7.5 (or Mango) this is closer to a reality than ever before. The two main elements to this are Zune, Skydrive and Windows Live. With Zune you can access all of your media (Videos, Music, and Apps (if applicable)) across the PC, Phone, Tablet, Laptop, and… if ya got it… the Xbox. From a data position the Skydrive feature allows you to access files stored within the cloud and with Live all of your computers are accessible from one another.

    The end result (speaking of the phone) is that your entire data driven world is now always available to you anytime – anyplace. From a business perspective… I am always connected all of the time (if you dig that lifestyle)

    Quite frankly, there are no other devices out there that are capable of such a feat… REGARDLESS of their claims..

    I am a PC and Windows 7 was MY idea…

    My two cents…

  • I’ve seen WP7 devices in most of the new shows… Hawaii Five-O, Castle, Bones… Etc. Still, there can always be more! Just go to youtube and search for wp7 on tv shows. Microsoft is more inovative in technology than apple be honest with you they always like to help people first.