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HTC currently has three Windows Phone 7 handsets in its portfolio. We've already looked at the O2-exclusive HTC HD7 and reviewed the HTC 7 Mozart, which is exclusive to Orange. Now it's the turn of the HTC 7 Trophy, a Vodafone exclusive.
The 3.8in. HTC 7 Trophy doesn't stand out in terms of specifications. And although HTC and Vodafone are pushing its multimedia and gaming capabilities, it has as many business features as any other Windows Phone 7 handset. The real differentiator is the attractive price — free on a £25-a-month, 24-month contract.
The all-plastic chassis of the HTC 7 Trophy lacks the solidity of the HTC 7 Mozart's aluminium build, but it still feels pretty tough. It has a traditional backplate rather than the Mozart's small slide-off panel. There is a thin silver frame around the screen and front buttons, and some additional silver highlights, but apart from these features the chassis is black.
The HTC 7 Trophy has a 3.8in. screen and a 5-megapixel camera, and is free on a £25-a-month, 24-month contract from Vodafone
There is a surprise in store when you remove the backplate in that the battery and internal casing is yellow. We've seen this move before with HTC's HD Mini, although there's less of an industrial feel to the design here.
Beneath the screen is the trio of buttons that Microsoft requires on all Windows Phone 7 handsets: Start in the middle, flanked by Back to the left and Search to the right. All three buttons are touch sensitive.
There is a camera button on the right edge and a volume rocker on the left, where you'll also find the Micro-USB connector for charging and PC connection. The top edge houses the power switch and a 3.5mm headset jack.
The screen is superb, as we've come to expect on Windows Phone 7 handsets. It's not up to the standards of the Super AMOLED display on Samsung's Omnia 7, but is still sharp, bright and very responsive to finger presses and sweeps. The screen is capacitive and supports pinch-to-zoom.
Pinch to zoom works particularly well in the web browser, where it's smooth and fast. However, text does not reflow if you zoom in this way. To avoid having to scroll horizontally to read complete lines, you have to double tap for a single zoom in. A second double tap zooms back out.
The screen measures 3.8in. across the diagonal, which is significantly smaller than the HTC HD7's 4.3in., but slightly larger than the 3.7in. of the HTC 7 Mozart. The resolution in all three cases is the same — 480 by 800 pixels.
This screen size makes for quite a sizeable device: it's a comfortable fit for larger hands though, at 61.5mm by 118.5mm by 11.96mm. It's no lightweight at 140g, though.
The on-screen keyboard is usable in landscape mode, and even in portrait mode we could hunt and peck at keys fairly successfully, tapping out text messages one-handed.
Microsoft has implemented a system that tries to guess the next letters you might want while typing and makes their target areas a little larger. This is not visible to they eye, but does seem to improve accuracy. The predictive text system is good too, with the result that we could type as fast as on any other on-screen smartphone keyboard.
Texters should appreciate the wide range of emoticons that are easily accessible by tapping a key on the main keyboard. However, there's no tap-and-hold feature for secondary characters: to enter numbers and standard characters such as ?, @, / and £, you need to go to a separate keyboard.
The HTC 7 Trophy ships with an AC adapter, a headset with flat ear-buds, a Micro-USB PC connection cable and a small getting-started guide.
With a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 512MB of RAM, 576MB of ROM and 8GB of non-expandable storage, the HTC 7 Trophy's CPU and memory/storage specifications are on a par with most other Windows Phone 7 devices. Only O2's HTC HD7 stands out from the crowd by offering 16GB of storage.
THe HTC 7 Trophy is a quad-band GSM handset with HSPA support for up to 7.2Mbps down and 2Mbps up, plus Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth (2.1+EDR) and GPS. You can use the latter with the preinstalled Bing Maps.
As with All Windows Phone 7 handsets, the user interface has a Microsoft-fixed look-and-feel that's unskinnable. The Start screen is filled with tiles, most of which are square, although some are double width. These can show real data such as calendar appointments, alarm settings and photos of your Facebook friends; they can link to apps or can to very specific items — for example, you can pin Bing Maps locations to the Start screen for rapid access.
Tiles can take you to individual applications, or to 'Hubs' that aggregate collections of data. The Music and Video hub, for example, accesses music, video, podcasts and the built-in FM radio. The radio's functionality is somewhat rudimentary: there's no automatic scan and save, although you can save manually located stations into a favourites list. You can pin individual radio stations to the Start screen, though — just hold down on the radio screen and then select 'pin to start' from the short menu that appears.
The rear-mounted speaker delivers good volume and good audio quality, thanks to Dolby Mobile and SRS surround sound support. This is one of the features HTC has added to the HTC 7 Trophy to help it stand out from the Windows Phone 7 crowd, and it's accessible from the Start screen. You can create separate settings for music and video playback, and use an equaliser too.
HTC includes its own Hub, in an attempt to get a flavour of its Sense interface onto the locked-down Windows Phone 7
HTC has also added its own Hub to the Windows Phone 7 Start screen. This is the same as we found in the HTC 7 Mozart and HD7. It offers local weather data and access to a range of games and apps. However, it's slow to load and feels tangential to Windows Phone 7 rather than integrated within it. Vodafone also adds a hub, which provides call history, a phone dialler and voicemail, as well as contacts.
The Windows Phone 7 calendar can show two schedules at once, making it easy to keep track of work and home commitments, or check out a shared calendar from your partner. Meanwhile, Office applications are accessible remotely if you run SharePoint Server 2010, while photos can be uploaded automatically to the 25GB of free SkyDrive storage you get if you sign up to Windows Live. Windows Live also offers remote wipe, which is an excellent data security feature.
The Trophy's 5-megapixel camera has an LED flash and shoots 720p HD video. A range of scene settings and a macro mode are available for the camera, but the quality is nothing special. However, as with every other Windows Phone 7 handset, you can take a picture without waking the phone from locked mode, simply by pressing the side-mounted camera button.
Performance & battery life
The HTC 7 Trophy has a 1,300mAh battery and as is usual we found we needed to charge it every day. If you have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G running and make use of GPS, the phone may need a mid-afternoon power boost. With lighter usage you should get through a full 24-hour period between charges.
As with every other Windows Phone 7 handset we've seen, we're surprised there's no desktop Outlook synchronisation. Unless you have corporate support, you'll need to synchronise calendar and contact data via Windows Live. We can't believe Microsoft won't incorporate desktop synchronisation into Zune pretty quickly. Its absence is a major drawback, particularly as the main bulk of the competition — including HTC's Android handsets, BlackBerry devices, the iPhone and indeed Windows Mobile 6.5 all support it.
The HTC 7 Trophy represents good value for money if you want to give Windows Phone 7 a try. However, if you don't have support at the corporate level you may find you need to move some existing services (contacts and calendar) to the cloud for synchronisation.
The Windows Phone 7 interface won't appeal to everyone, although we do like the way the tile-based interface can display data as well as provide links. Also, the lack of backwards compatibility with Windows Mobile 6.5 could irk for existing users with a heavy investment in third-party apps: we suggest you check the Windows 7 marketplace carefully before considering a move.