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Motorola Triumph Review: The Best Contract-Free Phone Available Now

At a Glance
  • Motorola Triumph

    PCWorld Rating

    The Motorola Triumph is one of the best prepaid phones you can buy.

Motorola Triumph for Virgin Mobile
When it comes to prepaid phones, the Motorola Triumph is one of the best I have ever seen. This $300 device from Virgin Mobile (price as of July 25, 2011) proves that you don't need top-of-the-line specs, like a dual-core processor or 4G connectivity, to create a great phone.

Design

The Triumph looks and feels sleeker than Motorola's recent offerings, the Droid X2 and the Droid 3. At 4.80 by 2.60 by 0.39 inches, the Triumph is slightly shorter and thinner than the Droid 3. The Triumph weighs 5.04 ounces, and feels well balanced in the hand.

The 4.1-inch WVGA display does an excellent job of displaying crisp and clear images, though it was a little difficult to see outside. Putting the Triumph in a side-by-side comparison with the Droid 3, I found the screen on the Triumph to be much sharper, and its colors looked far more natural than those on its Verizon cousin.

Software

The Motorola Triumph runs stock Android 2.2 (Froyo), which isn't the most recent version of the OS. Last month Virgin Mobile pledged to ship only phones running vanilla Android, and so far the company seems to be holding true to that promise. But this doesn't mean that the Triumph is free from preloaded applications (also known as bloatware). While nowhere near as bad as what we saw on the Droid 3--or any other Verizon Android device, for that matter--the software on the Triumph includes certain applications (such as Poynt) that you cannot remove without rooting the device. Still, the fact that the phone ships without a custom overlay offsets the handful of preloaded apps.

Performance

If you didn't look up the specs, you would swear that the Triumph was a dual-core phone. This single-core 1GHz powerhouse is as fast as any of the recent dual-core devices we've seen, and it can jump in and out of various applications with ease. The Triumph was extremely responsive when I swiped through home screens and typed on the on-screen keyboard. The Triumph's fantastic performance might be the result of the absence of a custom overlay, though we haven't done any formal tests yet to be sure.

Since Virgin Mobile lacks a 4G network, it makes sense that the Triumph would ship without 4G support. Regardless, the Triumph loaded Web pages and downloaded apps in a few brief seconds over Virgin's 3G network. Streaming high-quality YouTube videos might take a bit longer, but overall the phone performed solidly when surfing the Internet and performing day-to-day tasks. Virgin uses Sprint's 3G network, so you'll have nationwide coverage and access to the same 3G speeds that Sprint users enjoy.

Call quality could have been clearer; the person I called said that I sounded slightly fuzzy, but they could easily understand and hear what I was saying.

Battery life is what you would expect from a smartphone. After 4 hours of heavy use, the battery dropped from 100 percent to 65 percent. If you love to download a ton of apps or play games for countless hours on your phone, you'll probably want to keep a charger with you just in case. If not, you can probably make it an entire day on a single charge.

Camera and Media

The Motorola Triumph uses the stock Android 2.2 camera interface. Although the interface doesn't have as many bells and whistles as the ones by LG or Samsung, it does the job just as well. The Triumph has two cameras: a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera capable of shooting 720p video, and a front-facing VGA camera for video chatting.

The rear-facing camera captured decent photos, though it was slow to focus and take the picture. Indoor images came out slightly darker and could have been sharper. Images using the flash could have used more sharpness, too, but they weren't as washed out as images taken with a dual-LED flash.

Videos were clear, but audio sounded muffled when played through the phone's speakers. When I played the audio through my headphones, voices sounded slightly tinny, though clearer than they did over the phone's speakers.

The front-facing camera takes satisfactory photos and videos for a VGA camera, though unfortunately the Triumph has no preinstalled application to take advantage of the camera for video chats. Luckily you can install an app like Fring, which allows you to make and receive video calls with other Fring users.

Surprisingly, the Triumph features a Micro HDMI-out port, so you can share your media on a larger screen. You normally don't see HDMI-out ports on prepaid phones, so having one on the Triumph is really a great addition.

Bottom Line

The Motorola Triumph is the device to get if you are searching for a contract-free phone. The Triumph is fast, it has great battery life, and its screen is sharper than any of the qHD displays we've seen on Motorola's subsidized phones for larger carriers. At $300 the Triumph is a steal, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a new phone. It may not take the best pictures, but overall the phone is excellent.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    The Motorola Triumph is one of the best prepaid phones you can buy.

    Pros

    • Very fast and responsive
    • No third-party Android overlay
    • Sharp and clear display

    Cons

    • Audio in videos sounds muffled
    • Camera images could be sharper
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