Microsoft's mobile Windows systems have long the domain of business users, and though Microsoft is definitely trying to shrug off this stuffy consumer perception with its glossy, magazine-style user interface, HTC's Trophy reminds us of who this system is still most likely to appeal to. The Trophy looks like a phone wearing a tuxedo, wrapped in two-tone, soft-touch black plastic and accented with a shimmering silver strip around the screen. On the back, the camera lens is housed under a stylish protrusion, with a speaker grille dressing down the look a little and giving it a touch of industrial flair.
This phone feels really nice to hold, its standby power switch is easy to find without contorting one's hands too much and the camera button and volume rockers are readily accessible. The phone's main input is performed through the 3.8-inch capacitive touchscreeen, though the Trophy also sports the obligatory navigation buttons below the display, and, as we found with the HTC Mozart and Samsung Omnia 7, these buttons work fine. We do wish they were physical buttons instead of the touch activated pad, though.
The rigidity of Microsoft's hardware specifications for Windows Phone 7 is a double-edged sword for consumers. One the one hand, you can expect a uniform experience between the different phones developed by the various manufacturers (something that couldn't be said for Windows Mobile 6 devices), but it also makes it extremely difficult to make an informed choice. The Trophy is decidedly middle-of-the-road; its screen is neither largest or smallest, its camera and internal memory meet the minimum required specification of 5-megapixles and 8GBs, and it sports a 1 GHz processor like the rest of the launch WP7 devices.
HTC's approach to WP7-specific software is present but is a little lacklustre compared with the breadth of unique apps offered by LG. The HTC Hub offers local weather forecasts and links to other HTC apps including Photo Enhancer, Sound Enhancer, Stocks and a tool box complete with a spirit level and unit converter, among other handy tools.
Like the Mozart and Desire HD, the Trophy incorporates HTC's new Dolby Mobile audio software for creating a surround sound-like effect for stereo headphones.
If you thought trying to separate WP7 devices on their looks and features was difficult, trying to pick the best and worst based on performance is a nightmare for mobile phone reviewers. After running a browser-based benchmark across the five launch devices, we found there was very little difference in the results, with variations in the output less than 10 per cent between the five phones.
In the real-world this equates to a phone that provides continually excellent performance. In the time we spent using the Trophy as our day-to-day phone, we saw very little in the way of interruptions, with smooth, fluid menu navigation and decent data delivery across all of its web-enabled apps. The Internet Explorer browser did a fine job of of handling our daily web browsing, and the messaging and email were exceptional.
If we were to find fault, it would be the Trophy's single-day battery life. This is a little below average compared with similar use on the other WP7 phones we've reviewed so far, though this isn't a result we're too concerned about. The battery life we saw was definitely adequate for most day-to-day use.
Our test photographs taken with the Trophy outstrip the performance of the higher-resolution camera in the Mozart. The flash is still a bit hot and it will spoil some shots if you aren't careful, but overall it's a nice camera to take a quick pic with for Facebook.
Between the LGs, the Samsung and the HTC Mozart, the Trophy is the piggy-in-the-middle of Windows Phone 7 launch devices. We appreciate its sharp design more than that of the Mozart and Optimus 7Q, but it lacks some of the features of the Omnia 7 and Optimus 7 that elevate them in our esteem. This phone is a very passable effort from HTC, an attractive handset delivering a great user experience, yet we can't help but wonder if HTC could have done more to deliver a more unique device.