Sunday, June 26, 2011

Motorola Triumph: High-End Prepaid Android Smartphone Coming July 19


This is a Triumph; a Motorola Triumph, that is! And when it goes on sale July 19 for $299, it'll be one of the most powerful prepaid Android smartphones out there, on Virgin Mobile's network or any other.

What makes the Triumph so, well, triumphant?

The specs, and what they mean

The Motorola Triumph will have a 1-gigahertz single-core processor and 512 MB of RAM, making it roughly equivalent to a high-end Android smartphone from 2010 like the HTC Evo. It will have a 4.1 inch screen, much larger than the iPhone 4's and closer to other large Android smartphones'. And it will only have 2 GB of internal storage, but will support up to 32 GB of additional memory through its MicroSD slot -- so if you already have a fingernail-sized memory card from another phone, just plug it in and you're good to go.

The Triumph will run Android 2.2 "Froyo," a recent version of Android that's basically par for the course for a modern smartphone, with minimal carrier branding or customization. (That means fewer non-uninstallable "trashware" apps than usual.) It will also have advanced multimedia capabilities, like a 5-megapixel camera that can record 720p video, plus a front-facing camera for video chat. Finally, an HDMI out port will let you plug it in to your HDTV so you can watch videos on the big screen.

So what's the catch?

The Motorola Triumph is a prepaid smartphone, meaning you don't sign up for a two-year contract with it. Because of that, you have to pay the phone's full cost up front, and it's pretty hefty at $299.

On the plus side, though, not only do you not sign a contract, but you can get unlimited data and texting for $25 a month. Virgin Mobile's basic "Beyond Talk" plan also includes 300 voice minutes per month, and its $40 per month plan includes 1200 minutes. ($60 a month gets you unlimited everything, period.) And did I mention there's no 2-year contract?

The Upshot

Virgin Mobile is easily the cheapest of the prepaid mobile carriers, like MetroPCS and Cricket, and it uses Sprint's network to boot. But up until now -- well, until June 17, anyway -- there's been no standout Android smartphone on its network. The LG Optimus V is Virgin's flagship phone at the moment, and it costs half as much as the Triumph but has decidedly low-end specs.

The Motorola Triumph just might be the phone you've been waiting for, if you want a decent smartphone without a 2-year contract. And it'll cost more than more powerful phones will up-front, but the cheaper, contract-free wireless plans might make it worth it.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

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