Motorola Photon 4G and Triumph: Hands-on impressions

Sprint has teamed up with Motorola to boost its repertoire of phones. The Photon 4G leads the pack for Sprint’s next-generation WiMAX-enable devices, while the new Triumph gives Virgin Mobile pre-paid customers a solid Android smarphone option.

At a press event in New York City today, Sprint and Motorola announced a revamped partnership that will bring 10 new devices to the Sprint and its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands this year. Today’s biggest announcements include the Google Android-based Motorola Photon 4G for Sprint, and the Motorola Triumph, a pre-paid option for Virgin Mobile, both of which will be available this summer. No pricing options for either device have yet been announced. Below, a hands-on look at what the Photon 4G and the Triumph have to offer.

Motorola Photon 4G

The first dual-core handset to launch on Sprint’s network, the Photon 4G is powered by Nvidia’s robust 1GHz Tegra 2 CPU and has 1GB of RAM – twice the memory of the similarly spec’ed Droid Bionic – to give the device the speed and power expected of next-generation “superphones.” The bright and crisp 4.3-inch qHD display doesn’t disappoint – even iPhone 4 fans would have trouble finding much to criticize here. To support the massive display, Motorola included a kickstand, which automatically sets the phone into landscape mode when it’s pried open.


Photon’s 8-megapixel rear-facing camera allows for 720p HD shooting capabilities, and is a nice step-up from the Motorola Atrix 4G, which sports a 5-megapixel camera. Plus, the micro-HDMI port allows for 720p HD video output to a television, and Sprint will offer a docking station for a faster connection setup. The front-facing VGA camera for video chat is a necessary addition these days. But obviously, the picture quality won’t come anywhere close to that of the rear camera. (None of them do.) The Photon has 16GB of on-board storage, and can be expanded by 32GB with a microSD card. It also supports 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless connectivity.


The phone is made to connect to Sprint’s WiMAX CDMA 4G network, but is also backwards compatible for 3G connection. As an added bonus, the Photon also works as a GSM worldphone – a massive upside for frequent travelers – and is only one of a few devices Sprint offers with this feature.

Based on the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, the Photon comes with all the features users have come to know and expect from an Android device. Added on is Motorola’s custom Motoblur software, which allows users to add up to 10 different social networks, contacts, photos, emails and messages, and view everything in a single window. Because Motoblur is based off of Android, it isn’t a poor excuse for an add-on, like so many other pre-installed custom apps, and could have some real fans once people get used to the concept.


Sprint is selling the Photon 4G as a do-everything-for-everyone device. The carrier has also added additional security measures for the business and enterprise crowd, as well as simple calendar and account integration and file management. On the opposite side of the user spectrum, Photon’s Tegra 2 gives it all the power it needs to be a full-on gaming device. The demoed racing gaming at the event showed the device working smoothly.

Overall, the Motorola Photon looks like a solid option, especially on Sprint’s 4G network. Some users might not want to wait until summer, and instead opt for the HTC EVO 3D. But those who do wait for the Photon likely won’t regret it.

Motorola Triumph

The first Motorola device to land on Sprint’s Virgin Mobile brand, the Triumph may be less sexy when compared side-by-side to the sleek Photon 4G powerhouse. But as a pre-paid option, it doesn’t get much hotter than the Triumph.


The handset’s WVGA touchscreen measures a solid 4.1-inches. It runs on Android 2.2 Froyo, sports a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and comes loaded with 2GB of built-in storage, which can be upgraded with microSD. It also has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of shooting 720p video – a feature the Sprint rep told us was his favorite aspect of the device – and a VGA front-facing camera. An HDMI port and an assisted-GPS port come standard, as does 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.


One of the main selling points Sprint and Motorola pushed for the Triumph was the addition of the Virgin’s music-centric social network, Virgin Mobile Live 2.0. This app comes preloaded on the Triumph, which is fine. But the app looked a little clunky and corporate-made, like so many other in-house apps developed by wireless carriers. Its inclusion doesn’t count against the Triumph, but it certainly didn’t seem like a major selling point either.

All-in-all, if you’re going to go pre-paid, the Triumph is definitely a winning route.

Product Review

The 2019 Volvo V60 proves it's still cool to drive a station wagon

With the 2019 V60, Volvo argues the station wagon segment isn't as moribund as most other automakers say it is. The company goes as far as arguing we're on the cusp of a wagon revival, and the V60 is poised to lead the charge.

Why Intel and Nvidia controversies prove you should always wait for benchmarks

Pre-ordering any new hardware without independent testing is dangerous because you don't really know how good it is. That goes doubly so when pre-release tests from manufacturers are skewed in their favor.
Android Army

With the E5's arrival, Moto's entire E-range lineup unites in the U.S.

Struggling to figure out your E5 from your G6? No, it's not a weird chromatic scale -- it's just Motorola's new roster. But how do you know which is right for you? Find out with our guide to Motorola's 2018 phone lineup.

Razer Phone 2 vs. Galaxy Note 9: They’re closer than you think

While the Razer Phone wasn't a bad phone, it failed to set the market on fire. Razer's back though, with the much improved Razer Phone 2. But can it beat one of the big boys -- the Galaxy Note 9? We found out.

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next phone, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.

Here are our favorite wireless phone chargers for Android devices and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.

Inferiority is a feature now! Palm's new plan is psychotic

The Palm is a smartphone to reduce your smartphone usage, or a small smartphone for when you don't want to carry your big smartphone. Palm itself doesn't seem sure which it is, but either way, it's a product that's so witless, we're amazed…

Google will start charging Android manufacturers to use its apps in Europe

Google announced that it will be charging Android device manufacturers in Europe a licensing fee to use its apps and services. The announcement comes as an effort to comply with new European Commission regulations.
Home Theater

The best MP3 players of 2018

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? No worries. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? Don't sweat it. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.

Huawei and Leica’s monochrome lens is dead, so we celebrate its life

The Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro do not have a dedicated monochrome camera lens, unlike the P20 Pro, and various Huawei and Leica phones before it. It's the end of an era, and also the start of a new one, as Leica has worked on its…

The Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof, so now you can read it in the tub

Amazon released a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader, boasting improved software, more storage, and a feature that customers have been asking for: Waterproofing.

Verizon’s buy one, get one offer is the best deal on the new Google Pixel 3

If you need a new smartphone and want the best (without shelling out a grand or more), the new Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are fantastic options. Verizon's BOGO offer is the best way to score a deal, letting you snag a free phone and save…
Social Media

YouTube is back after crashing for users around the world

It's rare to see YouTube suffer serious issues, but the site went down around the world for a period of time on October 16. It's back now, and we can confirm it's loading normally on desktop and mobile.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Flagship fight

When it comes to stunning flagships, Samsung and Huawei are often the first names the come to mind. And the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro is no exception. So how does it compare to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9? We put the two to the test to find out.