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Motorola Triumph (Virgin Mobile) review: Motorola Triumph (Virgin Mobile)

Motorola Triumph (Virgin Mobile)

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
6 min read


Motorola Triumph (Virgin Mobile)

The Good

The <b>Motorola Triumph</b> has an attractive 4.1-inch WVGA display, decent multimedia features like a 5-megapixel camera that can record HD video, a front-facing VGA camera, HDMI output, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Performance is snappy.

The Bad

The Motorola Triumph has squishy side buttons. Captured video has poor audio quality.

The Bottom Line

The Motorola Triumph finally brings a high-end Android smartphone to the prepaid market.

Virgin Mobile has really stepped it up in the prepaid smartphone department in recent years, releasing Android handsets like the Samsung Intercept and the LG Optimus V. While we liked both of these devices, they were decidedly entry-level, with slower processors and not as many features as higher-end phones. Those who wanted a prepaid smartphone with more features and power were out of luck.

Enter the Motorola Triumph, which promises to be the new flagship phone for the prepaid carrier. The Triumph is far and away the most advanced phone in Virgin's lineup, with a 4-inch WVGA display, Android 2.2.2, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera that can record HD video, a front-facing camera, HDMI out, and other notable features. Not only is the Triumph Virgin Mobile's first Motorola handset, it's also the first to come preloaded with Virgin Mobile Live, the carrier's social-networking music application.

One of the first descriptions of the Motorola Triumph we heard from our colleagues is that it looks a lot like a miniature Droid X. Indeed, the Triumph has a similar rectangular design, with sharp squared-off corners wrapped in a soft-touch shell. At 4.8 inches long by 2.6 inches wide by 0.39 inch deep, the Triumph is not quite as tall as the Droid X, and it is missing the Droid X's trademark bump on the back. It's still quite a solid slab to carry around, seeing as it weighs around 5.04 ounces.

The Motorola Triumph has a large 4.1-inch display.

Another design element that reminds us of the Droid X is the Triumph's large 4.1-inch WVGA display. We're quite pleased with the vibrant graphics and crisp 584x480-pixel resolution, and the screen size is an absolute treat when surfing the Web and watching videos. It's perhaps not as sharp as a qHD or Super AMOLED display, but we found it perfectly usable. The touch screen was smooth and responsive, and apps sprang to life as soon as the screen was tapped. You also get pinch-to-zoom support plus a proximity sensor and accelerometer.

Beneath the display are the usual four touch-sensor Android keys corresponding to the menu, home, back, and search functions. The volume rocker sits on the right spine while the screen lock key is on the left. We found these side keys a little too skinny and low to the surface for comfort. They felt squishy when pressed as well.

The 3.5mm headset jack sits on the top, while the Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI out ports are on the bottom. The Triumph has two cameras--a front-facing one is above the display, while a rear camera sits above the battery cover next to an LED flash.

The Motorola Triumph comes with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a preinstalled 2GB microSD card, and reference material.

Software and user interface
Those of you who fear manufacturer skins can rejoice: the Motorola Triumph ships with Android 2.2 and doesn't have the Motoblur interface. It has quite a vanilla Android interface, which we think results in snappier screen transitions and faster navigation. We hope this means the Triumph will be easy to upgrade to Android 2.3 Gingerbread as well. You get up to five customizable home screens and each home screen has shortcuts to the phone dialer, the main menu, and the browser. Holding down the Home button will bring up recently launched apps.

Motorola and Virgin Mobile did add a few touches to customize the phone. For example, along with the default Android keyboard, Motorola snuck in two other input options: a TouchPal keyboard and a TalkBack keyboard. TouchPal is a slightly more refined keyboard, with larger keys and better predictive options. It also looks better in landscape mode. TalkBack, on the other hand, is an onscreen talking keyboard designed to read back the text to you. You would need to enable accessibility options to use it.

As with all Android phones, you will enjoy access to Google's mobile services including Gmail, Google Maps with Navigation, Voice search, Latitude, Places, YouTube, and other features of Android 2.2 Froyo. Virgin Mobile and Motorola added a few of their own apps in the package, including AirG Chat, Facebook, My Account, Poynt, Scvngr, Twidroyd, Where, and Virgin Mobile Live. That last is a social networking music application that lets you listen to live music streams of Virgin artists and find video, blogs, and concerts featuring them. Of course, you can always get more apps via the Android Market.

In addition to the usual features of Android 2.2 Froyo like Adobe Flash Player 10.1 and voice dialing over Bluetooth, the Triumph has many other smartphone features that we've come to expect from most Android handsets. These include speakerphone; speed dial; voice commands; conference calling; text and multimedia messaging; a robust e-mail app that supports POP3, IMAP4, and Exchange accounts; Wi-Fi; GPS; and the usual PIM tools like a calendar, phonebook, clock, and calculator. The Triumph does not have Wi-Fi hot-spot support, due to Virgin Mobile not supporting that feature.

Given the large screen, we're happy to note that the Triumph supports HD video playback at 720p and that the device has an HDMI-out port so that you can watch your videos on a big-screen television if you like. The phone has the default Android music player built in, and supports an array of different formats that include AAC, AAC+, WMA, and MP3. The phone comes with a 2GB microSD card, but can work with cards of up to 32GB.

You can capture 720p HD with the Triumph's 5-megapixel camera. If you don't want such a high resolution, the camera also lets you record in D1, WVGA, VGA, CIF, QVGA, and QCIF resolutions. You can encode the video in MPEG4, H.263, or H.264 format, and in 30-second (for MMS), 10-minute, or 30-minute durations. You can even record video with the front-facing VGA camera if you like, but of course the quality won't be as good. Other video settings include color effects, which are also available with the still camera.

Indeed, the still camera has a whole lot of different settings. They include autofocus, several resolutions, three quality settings, ISO settings, center-weighted and spot metering, anti-banding, saturation, contrast, sharpness, brightness, white balance, up to 4x zoom, flash, and a shutter sound toggle.

The Motorola Triumph takes good photos.

Photo quality was pretty good. Images looked sharp, and colors were decent, if slightly dull. The camera was a bit slow to focus, and low-light photos were a little dimmer than we would like. Photos taken with flash looked a little better, but they do tend to be a little more washed-out. Video quality was quite good, but the audio was poor and had a rather tinny quality.

We tested the Motorola Triumph in San Francisco using Virgin Mobile. Call quality was decent but not without flaws. For example, we had to increase the volume to the max in order to hear what our callers were saying. Once we did, we could hear them pretty clearly, albeit with slightly muddy voice quality.

On their end, callers said we sounded good too, but reported a similar fuzzy voice-quality issue. Still, we managed to carry on a conversation without difficulty and there was very little static or background interference. Speakerphone calls were good, without much of an echo effect.

Motorola Triumph call quality sample Listen now:

Since Virgin Mobile uses Sprint's network for its EV-DO Rev. A connection, we experienced decent speeds in the city. We loaded the mobile CNET page in around 35 seconds while the full CNET site loaded in 1 minute and 16 seconds. It did experience a few seconds of buffering when streaming high-quality YouTube clips, but once they loaded, the videos played without hiccups.

The Triumph's 1GHz Snapdragon processor in combination with the phone's clean Android interface resulted in a very zippy navigation experience. Apps loaded very quickly and multitasking felt snappy. The Maps app launched instantly, as did the camera and browser. The Triumph is as quick as most dual-core phones we've tried.

The Motorola Triumph has a rated battery life of 8.3 hours of talk time and 12.5 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Motorola Triumph has a digital SAR of 1.09 watts per kilogram.

While the Motorola Triumph may not be the best Android phone on the market, it's definitely the best prepaid Android handset we've ever seen. With its stunning 4.1-inch display, clean interface, fantastic multimedia feature set, and great performance, the Triumph is certainly the top smartphone of Virgin Mobile's current lineup. Yes, the Triumph is pricey at $299.99, but Virgin Mobile offers it without a contract along with plans that start as low as $25 a month for unlimited text and data plus 300 voice minutes. The low monthly plans make the Triumph well worth it, especially if you're keen on having a prepaid phone.

Editors' note: July 29, 2011: This review was updated with information about the Triumph's built-in music player.


Motorola Triumph (Virgin Mobile)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8