Sprint (s s) will begin offering the HTC Arrive, a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 handset, on March 20 for $199 with a new 2-year agreement and after $100 rebate. The smartphone marks a first for Microsoft’s (s msft) new mobile platform, which just launched in November of last year: Until now, only handsets using the GSM cellular standard could run on Windows Phone 7. With an expected update in the first half of March, Microsoft’s smartphone operating system will support the CDMA phone standard, which is used both by Sprint and Verizon Wireless (s vz) in the U.S.
Unlike most other currently-available Windows Phone 7 handsets, the Arrive supplements its 3.6-inch capacitive touch screen with a slide out, landscape, QWERTY keyboard. With the keyboard extended, the display can be angled up and forward: handy for watching video on the 800×480 screen. Other key specifications include:
- 1 GHz Qualcomm (s qcom) Snapdragon processor
- 5-megapixel rear camera with auto-zoom, flash and 720p video recording
- 16 GB of internal storage
- 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR
If the Arrive looks familiar, it’s likely because a GSM version of the device launched in Europe as the HTC 7 Pro. Now that Microsoft is making good on its promise to deliver CDMA support in the first half of 2011 for Windows Phone 7, HTC can sell through Sprint. One important note about the software on the Arrive: Because it will have the platform update that current Windows Phone 7 handsets will see next month, it will include copy / paste functionality.
Clearly, for Microsoft’s platform to gain momentum, it needs to expand in terms of devices offered and networks supported. I’ve criticized Microsoft’s lack of speed in terms of updates, not to mention a botched update that happened earlier this week, but getting CDMA support out in the first quarter of this year is a solid step forward. I know that some Sprint (and Verizon customers, for that matter) have been on the outside looking in when it comes to Windows Phone 7. In less than four weeks, we’ll see how many of them decide Microsoft’s platform can indeed be a viable third ecosystem in the mobile space.
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