The HTC 7 Trophy is one of the only Windows Phone 7 handsets you can grab for free on a contract of less than £30 a month, but with a 1GHz processor and 3.8-inch screen, this is no low-end smartphone. We test its chops in our full HTC 7 Trophy review.
Windows Phone 7 is here and, shock horror, it’s actually pretty good. Very good, in fact. It makes Android look like a dog and iPhone iOS seem like a style vacuum. Yet handsets like the HTC 7 Trophy prove that you don’t need to spend a fortune to experience this new hotness. It’s a Vodafone exclusive here in the UK and seems to be the cheapest way to board the Windows Phone express, coming free on a £25 a month contract.
Compare this to the HTC HD7, which you’ll currently have to splurge £40 a month on to avoid paying for the handset, and you realise what a cheap option the HTC 7 Trophy is. However, it hasn’t suffered much in the cost-cutting.
The HTC 7 Trophy skims along the surface of the minimum specs demanded by Windows Phone 7, but by any other smartphone standard we might apply, it’s a top-end contender. It uses the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which also keeps many other phones (including the excellent HTC Desire HD) ticking along, has a 3.8-inch S-LCD display with a fantastic capacitive touchscreen and a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. However, these specs are also seen in more expensive Windows Phone 7 handsets. So where has HTC saved those pennies?
The most important way the HTC 7 Trophy is bettered by other Windows phones is in its internal memory. 8GB is the minimum allowed by Microsoft’s spec police and it’s what you get here – some other phones offer 16GB. If this was an Android phone, we wouldn’t care as you could just bump that up with a microSD card, but Windows Phone 7 is far too uptight to give you such freedoms. No, memory isn’t expandable here so you need to make sure you’ll be happy with 8GB for the length of your contract.
If this is no problem, the HTC 7 Trophy represents a great deal. The S-LCD can’t quite compete with a great AMOLED display, with some luminescence to black areas when viewing at and angle, but it’s sharp, bright and offers good contrast. Even better than the display is the touchscreen. This capacitive panel is incredibly responsive, making Windows Phone 7′s great virtual keyboard seem even better. Microsoft was looking to create a direct rival to Apple’s iOS in Windows Phone 7, and obviously knew that slick touchscreen operation was important. The HTC 7 Trophy will transport your fingers to fingertip nirvana.
Windows Phone 7
Microsoft has the basics right with Windows Phone 7, but it has a way to go before it can claim to be as feature-rich as Android or iOS. There’s no Flash support, no cut and paste function and there’s only around a thousand apps available from Windows Marketplace so far. Windows Phone 7 is good, but it demands some patience. There are annoying niggles in there too, such as the way camera settings reset as soon as you leave the camera app. A steam iron update should be on its way soon to sort out these creases, but it may be months before they’re all smoothed-out.
Settings forgetfulness aside (You have to customise it every time), the HTC 7 Trophy’s camera is decent, with 720p recording capabilities and an autofocus function that’s quick and reliable as long as there’s a decent light source to rely on. It can focus on objects as close as around 10cm away and has an LED flash for those night-time (or post-4pm if you wait a couple of months) snaps.
2010 has desensitised us to large screens. We’d once have called the HTC 7 Trophy’s 3.8-inch display massive, but the Trophy somehow feels petite. There’s something about its slim bod and the soft-touch plastic battery cover that make the HTC 7 Trophy seem unusually accessible.
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It’s not hard and cold to the touch like a metal-bodied phone, and its innocuous design makes it much less imposing than other Windows Phone 7 devices like the LG Optimus 7 and Dell Venue Pro. This makes the HTC 7 Trophy tremendously likeable. It’s a joy to hold, and while the thrill of its soft-to-the-touch finish will fade pretty quickly, its effective ergonomics and pocketability won’t.
It also offers a handful of HTC’s own apps, which you can download for free. The Photo Enhancer and Sound Enhancer EQ program are nice touches, but with none that affect the HTC 7 Trophy’s UI in the way HTC Sense does in Android phones, there’ll probably be better alternatives available from the Windows Marketplace before too long.
In the past we’ve complained that Windows Phone 7 devices are all a bit samey, thanks to the platform’s minimum spec requirements, but all it has really done is to zap the potential for any runts. Once more powerful processors are released, they’ll start being packed into Windows Phone 7 handsets, adding some diversity to the platform’s phones, but for now the spec minimums mean that the HTC 7 Trophy can do virtually everything its more expensive rivals can do, and just as well too.