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HTC 7 Trophy Test Drive

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been using the Windows Phone 7 based HTC Trophy for some time now and would like to share my experiences and recommendations. This post describes my experience with the device and the OS from a professional point of view and are only my personal views.

The basics

Windows Phone 7 is a brand new operating system and should not be compared to previous versions of Windows Mobile. However, in most cases the users have used Windows Mobile devices before and it’s logical to compare the old OS with the new. This is not too easy since the new OS is completely different from any previous version.

The user experience is brand new and the need for additional shells such as HTC’s shell for Windows Mobile 6.5 is no longer needed. It’s very user friendly but the ability to reach beneath the UI is no longer possible. Access to the file structure and the ability to tweak the device is more or less not possible. Not even with the synchronization software.

The business usage

Phone 7 has a new release of Office Mobile with support for SharePoint sites and SharePoint Desktop (only SharePoint 2010). This enables the use of real collaboration features and seems quite easy to use. However, this requires access to the corporate SharePoint servers which in most cases is not possible over the Internet, at least not without a VPN connection. Even if the idea is great I think it’s more or less useless since my phone cannot connect to the corporate backbone where the SharePoint servers are located.

The OneNote Mobile is quite nice. It’s easy to take notes and some basic formatting features is also available. But since the only way to synchronize documents is to use SharePoint 2010 or local PC connection, it no easy way to export notes to your computer.

All in all I don’t think the phone is as good a business tool as the previous Windows Mobile releases.

The social usage

As a social device it’s more or less like any other new smart phone. Facebook and Windows Live are integrated and there are applications available for Twitter and similar social networks. But it’s nothing new. With Windows Mobile 6.5 you had all the same features and functionality and the only new thing is how the information is presented to the user. Anyway, the iPhone beats the hell out of Phone 7 when it comes to social computing.

Synchronization and PC connection

Microsoft has based the synchronization and PC connectivity on the Zune application framework. The Microsoft Mobile Device software is no longer required, but you’ll have to install the Zune application on your PC. This is more in the same direction as Apple has done with the Apple store. The Zune network is the distribution point for all software and media to the phone, but it’s possible to synchronize media files from your laptop with the PC application.

A very nice feature is the ability to synchronize to and from Live SkyDrive, but as far as I’ve been able to see it’s not possible to synchronize documents, text messages and other non-media content. This is quite bad since Microsoft has removed the support for the “MyPhone” service. The phone may also be connected to the MyDevices feature of Live, and it’s possible to lock, wipe and locate the device from Live Devices.

Security

I’ve not been able to test the security completely, but Microsoft states that security has been a focus area. So far it seems like they’ve managed to make it secure. When connecting to Exchange ActiveSync all security policies are applied and there is no obvious way to bypass global security settings. How easy it is to hack the phone I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure a good hacker will be able to get around the security features.

Device encryption, backup software and antivirus is not included with the OS or the device, which I find somewhat disappointing. One of the great features of Windows Mobile 6 was the ability to use market standard device encryption, antivirus applications and backup software. I expect that these issues will be resolved when third party vendors have completed and released their applications for Phone 7.

I don’t think Microsoft’s management tool for mobile devices (System Center Mobile Device Manager) has support for Phone 7 yet, but I expect it to be a question of time before they do. Until then, you will have to manage your device by yourself. The ting is that non-technical users seldom do and data loss is very likely to happen.

Stability

The phone is fairly stable, but in some cases the phone stops responding for a few seconds. Sometimes it’s enough to just wait it out, but in some cases I have to turn on and off the lock screen. I’ve had similar problems with HTC HD2, which is a Windows Mobile 6.5 based device. Therefore this might be a device issue and not an OS issue.

Besides that, I find the phone very stable and since it’s much faster than Windows Mobile the user experience is a lot better!

The device

Since I’ve used the HD2 for some time I can’t help but comparing the two devices. One of the issues I had with the HD2 was the sensitivity of the touch display. It seems like HTC have fixed this and the Trophy has a very nice feel to the touch display. It’s sensitive but not too sensitive and the responsiveness is very good. The dual-touch is very nice as well, but it requires that the applications you use supports dual-touch. The only embedded applications which support this are Office and Internet Explorer.

The phone is a bit smaller than HD2, which I find very nice. The HD2 was a bit too big and in some cases it was hard to use with only one hand. Since the Trophy is just a bit smaller it’s a lot easier to use with one hand. My thumb reaches the entire display without shifting the hand grip.

The device has a 5 mega pixel camera with the capability of recording 720 HD video. It has a built in flash and should be able to take good pictures. In my opinion this is not the case. I think the pictures is blurry even after retouching and optimization.

The embedded speakers are poor, but if you connect a high quality headset (not the ones that are included with the phone) or speaker system the sound is great. One fascinating thing is the placement of the embedded speakers. It’s located on the back of the phone which means that if you put the device on a table with the back side facing down, the sound and volume is radically reduced. I almost overslept since I didn’t hear the alarm when it went of.

The battery capacity is quite good. I may use the device, even with Wi-Fi and HSPDA enabled, for about three to four days without having to recharge it. With the standard micro USB interface it’s possible to use any charger and standard USB cables to both charge the phone and connect it to a computer.

Issues by experience

Besides what’s mentioned above, I have some issues which I would like to emphasis. These are, from my point of view, critical issues and has to be resolved if I’m going to use and recommend Windows Phone 7.

  • Microsoft’s synchronization service “MyPhone” is not supported on Windows Phone 7. Microsoft has not developed a Phone 7 based similar service. I think the MyPhone service was great and I was very disappointed when I found that the Phone 7 doesn’t support the service.
  • Unfortunately there is no backward compatibility with Windows Mobile based applications, which in my case is not that good. I have a selection of 5-6 purchased applications I use a lot, and too find out I can’t use them any more was horrifying.
  • The pre-installed applications were too few. Basic tools as a note taker and Messenger client are not included, and since the Phone 7 marketplace so far only is available in 5 countries it’s not possible to download and install applications. Even if I live in Norway, I primarily use English software but this doesn’t matter since it’s the GSM carrier identification which defines my region.
  • The auto-complete feature in the address book and phone dialing in Windows Mobile has been removed. This feature is one of the best features with Windows Mobile, but for some mysterious reason Microsoft has removed this marvelous feature.
  • The support for online media is poor. In many cases it’s not possible to play streaming audio and video, and the only message I get from the phone is “Unsupported format”.

Summary

I’m missing a lot of features which I’ve been using for several years on Windows Mobile. Since the OS is quite new I will have some patience but not for too long. When it comes to commercial and professional phones I believe that Windows Mobile was far ahead compared to competitors. For me Phone 7 is a step back and the focus on personal services such as Facebook is far to high.

As a smart phone without professional or business needs Phone 7 very good, but I believe that both iPhone and the next generation Android phones are just as good. Microsoft had a lead in the commercial and professional market, but with Phone 7 this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Hopefully third party vendors will put Windows based phones back on the top as a professional phone.

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