The Trophy sounds as though it ought to be the crowning glory in HTC’s Windows Phone 7 line-up; in fact, it’s overshadowed by the HD7. Like the HD7, it takes a 1GHz processor, but has a smaller 3.8in display with a sharp 480x800-pixel resolution. The build is solid, navigation is nippy and web browsing smooth.
The HTC Sense overlay didn’t do Android 2.1 Eclair phones any favours when it came time for last summer’s upgrade to Froyo. Here it is re-envisaged as a separate but usable app that doesn’t interfere in the least with the Trophy’s usability. In fact, it’s the Windows interface that is yet to prove itself.
Calling and connectivity are solid, but we’d prefer an alternative to the Zune synchronisation that limits you to using the Trophy with Windows PCs. It seems silly to exclude Macs, and the Android HTC phones support DLNA, broadening content-sharing options.
A GPS and compass are included - standard specs for a Windows Phone 7 handset. There’s a 5Mp camera that also snags 720p video; both are fine, but image quality is surpassed by other handsets in this group test - notably the 8Mp Desire.
The other issue with Windows Phone 7 is that of apps. These are still rather thin on the ground.
HTC 7 Trophy: Product comparisons
HTC has made a name for itself recently making smartphone handsets for Google’s Android operating system. But before that, the Hong-Ta Corporation was more closely tied to Microsoft, and its Windows Mobile software.
Now HTC has picked up the Windows baton again with a handful of Windows Phone 7 handsets. The HTC 7 Trophy is perhaps a more typical representation of the new platform, closer in size to the Apple iPhone than the oversized HTC HD7 we last looked at.
At 3.8in, the HTC 7 Trophy’s screen size lies between the displays of the 3.5in iPhone 4 and 4in Samsung Galaxy S. We chose these models for comparison, as the former represents the current state-of-the-art for smartphones, while Samsung has perhaps the most popular handset that tries to copy Apple’s lead.
There are three physical buttons around the HTC 7 Trophy’s case: a sleep/wake button in a naturally accessible position at top right; volume up and down in the near-standard top left-side edge position; and a camera button in a slightly more awkward bottom right-side corner.
Still pictures and video from the HTC 7 Trophy are quite usable but not of good resolution, despite the 5Mp and 1280x720p listed specifications.
Photos are degraded by what appears to be a high level of noise reduction, followed by sharpening to restore detail. The result is that your photos have the appearance of impressionistic oil painting once you look at them actual size.
Video is soft and defocused-looking, although not quite enough to hide conspicuous compression artefacts.
In its favour, the HTC 7 Trophy phone captured video in standard MPEG-4 format, rather than in a Microsoft-proprietary WMA format.
To access content on a Windows Phone 7 phone, you must download and install Microsoft’s Zune software. This looks like a cross between iTunes and Windows Media Center, and is only available for Windows PCs.
The HTC 7 Trophy handset itself is well finished, feeling relatively solid in the hand and well balanced at 136g weight.
It has a rubberised rear finish with nicely contoured side edges which makes it comfortable to hold. The rear panel clips on, and allows easy removal of the battery.
That may prove to be an especially useful asset when the phone crashes. We experienced one lock-up in particular that no amount of button holding would force the phone to reboot, so instead had to resort to taking out the battery.
Advertised battery life is up to 360 hours standby, or 405 mins talk time. In our experience, the phone could last over two days of light use with 3G and WiFi both turned on.
One feature on the HTC 7 Trophy we haven’t seen before is the hush mode that helps quell a disturbing phone. When the the phone is ringing, the action of lifting it up reduces the ringer volume. And to silence it altogether, you turn the phone over.
While these quieteners could be of use, we did miss have a simple silence button on the handset, to ensure the phone remained silent from the outset when required - in libraries, meetings or a train quiet coach.
NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>