First impressions: Motorola Photon 4G, Triumph smartphones

Summary:Sprint unveiled two new Android-based Motorola smartphones in New York City on Thursday. While the Photon 4G might be the more powerful device spec-wise, the Triumph wins the day.

Sprint unveiled two new Android-based Motorola smartphones in New York City on Thursday. While the Photon 4G might be the more powerful device spec-wise, the Triumph wins the day.

Starting with the Motorola Photon 4G, it's definitely a lovely and sleek device. At first glance, what makes it special is the Android 2.3 interface and a vibrant (Sprint wasn't laying it on too thick here) 4.3-inch touch screen. It also sports a handy kickstand, which is so customary these days for smartphones with displays over four inches. Everyone seems to think that these devices are perfect for watching movies, but my eyes still don't like that much beyond the amount of time it takes to wait for a bus to come by.

Otherwise, everything that is special about the Photon 4G is tucked inside, and even then, it doesn't come across as something that would truly stand out to me in a store. Sure, it has some advanced security measures, making it a prime choice for those who want a business smartphone that is more attractive but can still do all the graphic-heavy stuff that smartphones are capable of handling. And while I didn't get to try out the global and 4G features, those are all there too. There are some battery life saving presets onboard as well, but neither Sprint nor Motorola touched on actual numbers. We all know how much 4G drains a battery. (See: HTC Thunderbolt.)

But the Triumph was the real treat if there was one today. If I walked into a Sprint store and saw this handheld without a "prepaid" label stamped onto the product sheet, I would assume it's a full-fledged, regular contracted smartphone. And in a way, it really is just a regular 3G smartphone. Motorola (and Sprint via its Virgin Mobile brand) are developing a bridge between subsidized and prepaid smartphones by bringing some decent options to the bottom category.

Immediately, I liked the feel and grip of the Triumph. Coated with a softer rubber material on the back side of the device, the Triumph also hosts two cameras (front and back) along with a 4.1-inch WVGA color touch screen (also pretty, but not as vibrant as the panel seen on the Photon). The Triumph runs on Android 2.2, and while I've never been a big fan of the Froyo user interface look, it's a step up from whatever we usually see on most prepaid devices.

Now, would I buy either of these devices? That really depends on the price points, which haven't been revealed yet and likely won't be until later this summer when these Motorola handhelds hit stores. They each have quite a few impressive specs, but the Triumph comes across as the better deal considering its stuck in the prepaid category. If it were a regular subsidized smartphone with a $199.99 cost after signing a two-year contract, it would be unremarkable and just like any other Froyo smartphone available these days.

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Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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