Lately, CNET UK Towers has been awash with smart phones running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system. The HTC 7 Trophy is the most affordable way to hop on the Windows Phone 7 bandwagon -- for now at least. It's available from Vodafone for £25 per month on a 24-month contract, or £400 SIM-free from the Carphone Warehouse.
HTC has made a reputation for itself as a manufacturer of solid, reassuringly weighty handsets, and the Trophy is just such a phone. It tips the scales at 140g, and measures 62 by 119 by 12mm. We find that a pleasing size -- the phone is slim and narrow enough so that it'll fit in just about any pocket or handbag.
Around the edge of the screen, there's a fine strip of chrome, while the rest of the Trophy's chassis is black, with an attractive brushed-aluminium effect in places. There's nothing wrong with its design, but it's slightly less slick than that of the HTC 7 Mozart or the larger HTC HD7.
Along the bottom of the handset are the usual three Windows Phone 7 touch-sensitive buttons: back, home and search. Around the edges of the handset, you'll find mechanical volume keys, a lock button, a micro-USB port, a dedicated camera button and a 3.5mm socket for plugging in your headphones. Around the back, there's a 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash.
Display of power
The display is really quite natty. It's a 3.8-inch screen with a maximum resolution of 480x800 pixels. It's bright, sharp and crystal-clear, producing minimal blurring around the edges of text.
The Trophy runs Microsoft's all-new mobile operating system. We cordially invite you to stroll on over to our full review of Windows Phone 7, but here's the short version: it offers a simple, intuitive interface, with a home screen consisting of dynamic tiles. Extremely slick and very fast, we've found Windows Phone 7 to be highly enjoyable to use.
The caveat is that, because Windows Phone 7 is very new, it doesn't have the impressive catalogue of apps offered by Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms. The Windows Phone 7 app cupboard feels rather bare at the moment, although we have no doubt that we'll see some really neat additions in the near future.
The camera on the back of the Trophy is a 5-megapixel affair. In our tests, it churned out some pretty tasty snaps. More importantly, the camera software is really simple and swift, so you won't get held up waiting for it to load, or get bogged down in menus. The Trophy also offers 720p video-recording capability. We weren't blown away by that feature, but our footage did look impressively smooth when we played it back.
The Trophy's battery life is typical for a device of this calibre. Don't expect to get more than a few days of use from a single charge. You'll get less than that if you use lots of data or run many memory-intensive apps.
The same but different
The very thing that makes the Trophy a decent smart phone is also the thing that means it doesn't really stand out from the crowd. Microsoft imposes strict minimum-spec requirements on manufacturers who want to build devices running Windows Phone 7. For instance, every device must have a multi-touch display, a 1GHz processor, at least a 5-megapixel camera, an accelerometer, a compass, an FM radio tuner, the same hardware buttons, and so on.
The benefit of this is that you'll get a consistent, reliable Windows Phone 7 experience across all devices. The downside is that there's really not much to distinguish Windows Phone 7 handsets from one another. The Trophy, in particular, bears a striking similarity to the HTC 7 Mozart, although the Trophy has a lower-resolution camera and is slightly cheaper.
The HTC 7 Trophy is a fine handset to choose if you fancy hopping aboard the Windows Phone 7 locomotive. But, before you buy it, check out the other Windows Phone 7 handsets that are currently available. They're all similar but you might find one with a screen size or camera, for example, that particularly suits you.
Edited by Charles Kloet