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Hands-On: Motorola Photon 4G and Triumph

Article Comments  3  

Jun 9, 2011, 12:52 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Phone Scoop spent some time with Motorola's two new Android handsets for the Sprint network. Here are our first impressions of these two beauts!

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Photon 4G 

The Photon 4G is Motorola's new flagship Android handset for Sprint. It takes cues from a number of recent Motorola handsets with respect to design and offers a lot when it comes to specs and capabilities.

With its 4.3-inch display, I hope you're not expecting the Photon 4G to be small, cause it ain't. The device is plenty large when it comes to width and height, but thankfully it isn't as beefy front-to-back as some other "4G" handsets on the market. The plastics feel decent and strong, and the prototype units they have on hand has solid build quality. The weight is good, and the surfaces are smooth enough that getting it into and out of your pocket won't be a problem.

Photon 4G  

The ports are on the left side, and the volume toggle and camera buttons are on the right. These keys are ribbed for your thumb's pleasure, making them stand-out nicely from the side of the phone. Both buttons are easy to grip with your thumbs and have good travel and feedback.

The Android controls are capacitive keys placed below the display. They were responsive.

Speaking of the display, the 4.3-inch qHD LCD looks fantastic. The resolution, clarity, brightness and overall appeal are unquestionable. It is probably the best display available from a Motorola Android phone at the moment.

It runs Android 2.3 out of the box, and with the dual-core Tegra2 chip under the hood, performance was fantastic. Motorola demoed some 3D gaming on a large screen (thanks to the HDMI port) and the action looked fantastic. I didn't notice any problems with the devices system software while looking at it.

It runs the newest version of Motorola's Motoblur software, which looked and felt similar to the skin Motorola put on the Atrix 4G.

The Photon 4G will have a numer of accessories available, including a multimedia dock and full-sized keyboard. It was the webtop software, so it can act as a laptop replacement with full Firefox browsing on a properly equipped device.

The Photon 4G will be available later this summer.


The Triumph is a surprisingly capable Android handset for Sprint's Virgin pre-paid brand. It clearly is the best phone available from Virgin's meager selection of handsets.

Unlike the Photon 4G's smooth plastics, the Triumph has a rubbery, soft-touch coating that makes it stick in your hand. It is thin, light, though the styling is a bit blocky and simplistic.


It has microSD and microHDMI ports tucked into the bottom edge, with the power/lock key on the upper left edge, and the volume toggle on the upper right edge. These buttons worked well, though I wish they were reversed.

The 4.1-inch display is not nearly as awesome as the Photon 4G's in terms of quality, but it still has plenty of real estate to interact with apps and widgets.

The Triumph runs Android 2.2 and has a single-core 1GHz processor. The units on hand were very sluggish. I noticed a lot of problems transitioning between screens and applications. The main menu, in particular, was very slow.

These quibbles aside, the Triumph is a triumphant victory for Virgin, which can now lay claim to a solid smartphone.

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Jun 10, 2011, 5:16 PM

Sort of on Topic, but sort of not

Dude holding the Photon4G... you need some lotion for your thumb.

Much love anyways. lol. Cool

Jun 9, 2011, 2:49 PM

I really really considered this until....

Why do they put the USB charger port so that if the kickstand is being used, you can't charge the phone!?!? If I'm using the kickstand, it's because i'm streaming/watching a movie or something and want it to charge during so my battery isn't being drained. Poor placement
They want to sell you the optional motorola office desk with a hole in it so you can run the charger up through. Seriously though, either the kickstand swivels or this is one big design oversight!
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