First Look: Sprint's Windows Phone 7
Jan 7, 2011, 3:32 AM by Philip Berne
At a Sprint executive dinner, we managed to sneak a few photos of Sprint's upcoming Windows Phone 7 smartphone. Check out the HTC QWERTY-slider coming to Sprint in the next few months.
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At an executive dinner during CES in Las Vegas, while Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was talking up the company's upcoming 4G devices, I managed to snap a few pictures of the first Windows Phone 7 device coming to the carrier within the next few months. Hesse was coy about the exact timing, but did hint that we could expect the 3G-enabled smartphone to be available soon.
Though we've previously heard this phone identified as the HTC 7 Pro, Sprint reps told us that the actual name has not yet been finalized, but that it will probably be more user-friendly than the bland "7 Pro" moniker. The device is built by HTC, which is even more obvious when you slide open the keyboard and see the screen tilt at an angle from the sliding QWERTY, similar to the way the old HTC Touch Pro 2 tilts.
The slide mechanism was somewhat stiff, but this is certainly a pre-production unit and not final hardware, so I'll limit my judgments and just say I would like a smoother slide that is easier to open. The keyboard was fine. It felt similar to the T-Mobile G2, an Android slider built by HTC. That's okay, but I loved the keyboard on the Touch Pro 2, and I wish the Sprint WP7 phone had keys that were more bouncy and responsive.
For better and for worse, the phone runs the same Windows Phone 7 OS that we've seen on every WP7 device so far. That's mostly a good thing, because it's a fine interface with a blossoming app store selection. But Windows Phone 7 is still hobbled on side-sliding QWERTY phones. The OS still does a poor job reorienting itself for landscape mode, so when you open the keyboard, you're usually just looking at a sideways screen.
There were no special Sprint apps that I noticed, just the standard selection of Windows apps preloaded, as well as the HTC Hub with HTC's cool weather effects and apps.
Aside from my minor complaints about the slide, the phone feels solid. It isn't as chunky as the old Touch Pro 2 or other older HTC Windows Mobile side-sliders. It feels compact and more tightly constructed. It would be easier to fit into the pocket of a comfortable pair of pants, though you won't be stuffing this into your tight jeans.
Pricing, availability and the specific brand name for this phone have all yet to be determined, but the fact that Sprint is showing this phone to press and didn't stop me from snapping a few shots means it must be close to launch, probably within the next month or so.
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"the company's upcoming 4G devices"