Editors' note: Parts of this review were taken from our evaluation of the unlocked version of the HTC Trophy.
It's been a long time coming, but Verizon finally has its first Windows Phone device in the HTC Trophy. Available now for $149.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate, the Trophy has actually been shipping in international markets for quite some time now. To be honest, we were hoping for something new or a little more exciting for Verizon's first Windows Phone handset, but hey, beggars can't be choosers, right? Still, Big Red has a pretty competitive lineup of handsets, so we have to wonder if there's room for the Trophy on Verizon's smartphone mantle. We set out to find out in this review.
Compared with the HTC Surround with its slide-out speaker and the HTC HD7 with its extra-large display, the HTC Trophy might seem a bit plain, but we don't see that as a bad thing. At 4.67 inches tall by 2.42 inches wide by 0.47 inch thick, and 4.94 ounces, the Trophy is sleek and simple, which is attractive in its own right. The slim profile makes it easy to slip into a pants pocket, and it feels light yet solid in the hand. The aluminum-like bezel and soft-touch finish on back are also nice touches, as is the red interior behind the battery door.
The Trophy's display measures 3.8 inches diagonally and has a WVGA (480x800 pixels) resolution. Images and text looked sharp and bright. That said, the display washes out a bit in direct sunlight, and it's a fingerprint and smudge magnet. The touch screen is responsive, as it registered all our taps, smoothly scrolled through lists, and easily zoomed in on pages using the pinch-to-zoom gesture. The phone also has a proximity sensor and built-in accelerometer, but as we noted in past reviews, Windows Phone 7 currently has limited landscape support.
Microsoft did a really nice job with the onscreen keyboard, though. Despite looking small and cramped, it's easy to use and accurate. It's almost on par with the iPhone's keyboard and certainly better than Android's stock keyboard. When we were switching among the Trophy and other Android devices, we found the latter to be slightly slower and more prone to mispresses.
Below the display are touch-sensitive Back, Start, and Search buttons. On the left are a volume rocker and a Micro-USB port; on the right side, you'll find a dedicated camera key. The top of the device features a power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the back of the device houses the camera, LED flash, and speaker.
Verizon packages the HTC Trophy with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a preinstalled SIM card, a wired stereo headset, and reference material.
As we noted at the beginning, the HTC Trophy is Verizon's first Windows Phone device. We won't dive into every feature of the mobile operating system--you can read more about Windows Phone in our full review here--but some of the highlights of the platform include Zune and Xbox Live integration, excellent Office support, and a user-friendly interface. The Trophy also ships with the latest software available, so you'll get copy and paste out of the box. In the fall, Microsoft is scheduled to release its Mango update, which offers more than 500 new features, including multitasking, Twitter and LinkedIn integration, linked inboxes, and Internet Explorer 9, so there's more functionality on the way.
Now, not only is the HTC Trophy Verizon's first Windows Phone device, but it also marks another addition to the carrier's global phone portfolio. Using dual-mode technology, the Trophy runs on Verizon's CDMA/EV-DO Rev. A network domestically, but once abroad, the phone will automatically detect and switch to a GSM network, so you can continue to use voice and data. You can do so in more than 200 countries, with 3G speeds in more than 125 countries. The handset comes with a SIM card preinstalled, but Verizon has a policy where it will unlock the SIM, provided that you've been a customer for more than 60 days and are in good financial standing. Unlocking the SIM gives you the freedom to swap out the SIM card for, say, a prepaid SIM you purchase from an international carrier.
Aside from world roaming capabilities, the HTC Trophy also features a speakerphone, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, voice dialing, and text and multimedia messaging. Stereo Bluetooth support, Wi-Fi, and GPS are also available to you, but those looking for 4G won't find it here. The Trophy is 3G only and doesn't offer mobile hot-spot capabilities.
As far as contact management and e-mail, Windows Phone 7 can handle and merge data from various e-mail accounts, including Exchange, Windows Live, and POP3 and IMAP accounts, but if you have an non-Exchange Outlook account, be aware that you must now sync through the cloud (via Windows Live/Hotmail) in order to get your calendar and contacts synced to the phone. That aside, we had no problems syncing our various accounts to the Trophy and received e-mail the same time they arrived in our inbox on our PC.
Beyond the Windows Phone 7 staples outlined in our review of the operating system here, HTC throws in a couple of its own apps, such as a unit converter, a sound enhancer, and a photo enhancer. Also, though Microsoft has limited customization by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and carriers, the Trophy includes HTC Hub in which you will find some old HTC favorites like its animated clock and weather widget, as well as featured apps. You can pin the hub to the Start screen as a live tile, and the company recently updated it so that it will display real-time and location-specific weather information right on the tile.
Verizon also has a hand in some of the content available on the Trophy. The My Verizon Mobile tile on the Start screen takes you to a page where you can view your voice and data usage, as well as pay your bill, view your plan, and get support. The Trophy also ships with Slacker and the Netflix application, so Netflix subscribers can watch TV shows and movies right on the phone or add titles to their queue.
Though the Windows Phone Marketplace may not have the selection of apps that iTunes and the Android Market have, it is growing at a fairly rapid pace and currently has about 18,000 apps in the catalog--more than BlackBerry or WebOS. Apps are saved to the phone's internal memory, and we're happy to see that the Verizon Trophy has double the capacity of the unlocked version (16GB versus 8GB), as there are no expansion capabilities.
Finally, the HTC Trophy comes equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. There are options to choose the resolution and scene, as well as add effects. Unfortunately, none of this helped improve the bad picture quality. Photos taken indoors had a grainy and soft look to them, and colors looked faded. The quality was a little better on photos taken in natural sunlight, but there was still a bit of a hazy effect to the images. We also found this in our recorded 720p HD video clips.
We tested the dual-mode HTC Trophy in New York City using Verizon service and call quality was OK. Overall, the audio was clear on our end and there wasn't any point during our testing where we couldn't understand our callers. That said, we occasionally heard some hissing during lulls in the conversations, and voice quality was also tinny at times, so the sound wasn't pristine. Friends, meanwhile, were mostly positive in their feedback and didn't report any major problems or annoyances.
HTC Trophy call quality sample Listen now:
Speakerphone quality was decent. The sound was mostly clear, and at its highest setting, there was plenty of volume to hold a conversation in a noisier environment. We also paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and had no issues with making calls or listening to music wirelessly. The Trophy also has a built-in equalizer and SRS surround sound to enhance the audio when listening through headphones.
We didn't experience any dropped calls during our review period, and though 4G is all the rage right now, we still got pretty good data speeds using Verizon's 3G network. CNET's full site loaded in 35 seconds, while the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN loaded in 10 seconds and 5 seconds, respectively. We also tested the Netflix app over a 3G connection. Video took a few seconds to buffer and the quality was a bit murky, but it was good enough to be a source of entertainment while waiting for the bus or during other downtimes.
Armed with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 568MB RAM, the Trophy was generally responsive. There was little delay when launching applications and navigating the phone, and we also noticed faster load times for games--something that was addressed by Microsoft in the NoDo update.
The HTC Trophy ships with 1,300mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 4.9 hours and up to 12 days of standby time. The smartphone met its rated talk time in our battery drain tests, but compared to other smartphones, it's on the short side. Starting with a full battery at the beginning of the day, we typically had to recharge in the early evening after moderate to heavy use. We'll continue to test the battery, however, and update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the Trophy has a digital SAR rating of 1.48W/kg and has a Hearing Aid Compatibility rating of M4/T4.
To quote a popular '70s and '80s TV show theme song, "The world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some." The HTC Trophy isn't going to be right for everybody. Certainly, it's not going to vie for the attention of those seeking 4G and dual-core processors, and we wish certain aspects of the phone were better. However, the Trophy also offers the benefit of Zune and Xbox integration, world roaming capabilities, and a user-friendly interface and compact design, making it a good option for those looking for their first smartphone or for someone who doesn't need all the bells and whistles.
If you've been curious about Windows Phone, the best advice we can give is to go into the Verizon store to play around with the Trophy and the software to see if you like it. We think there's plenty to like, but if you disagree, there are alternatives like the HTC Droid Incredible 2 and the iPhone.