HTC Titan Review
As we’ve mentioned in our HTC Radar review, the HTC Titan is the Radar’s big brother in more ways than one and is competing in the high-end price range with other second generation Windows Phone 7.5 devices such as the Nokia Lumia 800 or the Samsung Focus S.
We’re going to focus on the Titan’s hardware in this review as for the most part, the software and HTC-added apps are identical to what is in the Radar which is here if you want to get up to speed on them.
Now that you’re caught up on the software, let’s jump into the Titan’s hardware.
The HTC Titan is an aptly named device, sporting a whopping 4.7 inch screen it’s the largest Windows Phone on the market and the largest device HTC have ever made (alongside it’s near identical Android-powered cousin the Sensation XL).
The screen is Super LCD with a resolution of 800×480 (WVGA) and it’s here that we find our biggest problem with the Titan.
The resolution and screen size never seem to get along, the pixels are stretched but worst of all, it’s obviously stretched and is visible right off the bat.
We don’t think it’s a deal breaker unless you’re a serious perfectionist but it definitely shows and can be quite irritating, especially when compared to the amazing retina display found on the iPhone 4 and 4S and also the 540 x 960 screen resolution found on the Sensation XE. Granted, the XE has a smaller screen at 4.3 inches but it’s still nice to see the resolution bumped up in accordance with screen size, a glaring omission with the Titan we feel.
On the other side of the coin the massive screen size on the Titan can be seen as a major selling point, we’ve had numerous friends and family members tell us they like the phone mainly because of the screen size.
Upon first use the screen can be quite overwhelming and combined with Windows Phone’s already large live tiles and metro UI it can look somewhat gaudy but after a few hours use it actually feels strange using a smaller device.
Upon switching to an iPhone 4S with its 3.5 inch screen or even a Samsung Omnia 7 which as a 4 inch screen, they both felt too small, a testament to the influence of the Titan’s screen.
Although given that the screen is Super LCD, the colours pop very nicely and YouTube videos along with photos look brilliant.
Using the on-screen keyboard is a breeze with the Titan, as the screen is bigger so is the keyboard, resulting in far less typos. The auto-correct function built into Windows Phone is also quite good which helps.
We might be focusing on the screen here a bit much, but it’s the biggest (no pun intended) selling point or the biggest deterrent of the Titan, depending on your personal choice. While a lot of people told us they loved the big screen, an equal number told us it was simply too big which is understandable.
Using the Titan with just one hand can be quite difficult and even reaching the lock button can be tricky.
The overall design of the device is really nice and somewhat unique which is impressive feat from HTC given that it’s essentially just a rectangle and doesn’t deviate too much from HTC’s staple style. The device is made up of a unibody piece of aluminium, much like the Radar and when removed, there isn’t much left of the phone. The screen goes almost edge to edge and protrudes slightly out from the casing of the phone, adding further to the predominance of the screen.
On the rear of the phone are the speaker and an 8MP camera with dual LED flash and f2.2 lens which isn’t flush with the phone but doesn’t put it off balance either.
Up on top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and lock/power button while the mic is on the bottom.
On the left side is the micro USB port, on the right is the volume rocker and dedicated camera button.
The camera button is as good as we found it on the Radar, using two levels of pressure: halfway to focus and a full press to take a picture. As with the Radar it might not be necessary given that Windows Phone includes touch to focus and take an image but for those who prefer a hardware button, it’s perfect.
A 1.3MP front facing camera is present in the top-right corner and below the screen is the standard Windows Phone buttons: back, start and search for Bing and all are perfectly responsive touch capacitive keys.
Once the cover is removed a Li-Ion 1600 mAh battery is visible and perhaps most importantly it is removable unlike the Radar’s. The SIM slot is also right there and takes a normal sized SIM card.
Because of the Titan’s unique unibody design, removing the cover is almost like removing a third party cover for the phone. While it’s removed you’re left with the screen and guts of the phone as one, almost like a phone in itself.
At 131.5 x 70.7 x 9.9 mm the Titan is quite slim given the overall size and weighs in at 160 grams, just 20 grams heavier than the iPhone 4S. It feels quite light and fits in the hand well, despite our aforementioned problems with one-handed usage.
The Titan is packing a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Scorpion processor, the fastest available on Windows Phone devices at the moment alongside 512MB of RAM. This makes the Titan much faster than the first generation of Windows Phone devices, and even some second generation phones such as the Radar or the Samsung Omnia W. The speed is noticeable when compared to any of the aforementioned phones, apps and web pages load much faster and animations (such as Xbox Live Avatars) are a lot smoother.
The speed when combined with multitasking really makes the phone feel smooth and speedy, especially with the pivot and metro style of Windows Phone in general, the whole experience feels fresh, fast and somewhat futuristic.
Storage in the Titan is a welcome 16GB but sadly no Micro SD card slot for further expansion. Still, it’s nice to see 16GB on offer, we think a 32GB option should be available but for most 16GB with 5GB free cloud storage in Microsoft’s SkyDrive should suffice.
The Titan has Bluetooth, Internet Sharing, HSDPA connectivity and Wi-Fi as standard and all work as expected. There’s also DLNA to allow streaming of media to Wi-Fi players and other capable devices.
The speaker on the Titan and headphones are almost identical to the Radar so no complaints there.
That said, the mic seems to be weaker than the Radar with multiple people telling us we sounded muffled or unclear, especially on speaker. Disappointing given how impressed we were with the Radar’s mic and call quality.
The Titan’s camera is something of a hidden gem here, most of the time we found it to produce better images than anything we’ve seen in a phone so far. There’s a lot less noise in photos, even in low-light enviroments.
The Titan also includes the same Panorama and Burst modes that we loved in the Radar, they do the same job here although Panorama mode might feel easier to use given the large screen size.
The same sharing modes appear here as with all Windows Phone 7.5 devices such as Twitter, SkyDrive, Facebook, Email and Messaging along with the baked-in Auto-Fix feature and HTC’s Photo Enhancer app.
The front facing camera is decent for video calling but pales in comparison to the rear facing camera as expected.
The Titan, as with the Radar records video in 720p HD which is perfect for on the go usage but won’t replace a dedicated video camera. The same problem with all Windows Phone video recording is still here, once you start recording video you can’t zoom in or out or even re-focus. We hope Microsoft release an update for this soon.
Good quality even at a gig.
Software and Apps
Again we have to stress that the software and HTC-made apps are all very similar to the Radar. Microsoft have tried to combat the fragmentation found in Android by keeping Windows Phone software almost identical across the board. What this means is that hardware becomes the main factor to consider when switching from another Windows Phone device, but if you’ve never used a Windows Phone before, we direct you again to our Radar review (last time, promise) where we go into the apps and marketplace in more detail.
The bottom line is that Windows Phone is a simple, clean and very quick mobile OS that offers something quite different to the other options out there at the moment, but as it’s only a year old is a tad bit lacking in the App department and in other ways such as dual core support.
Of course Microsoft insist that Windows Phone doesn’t need dual core devices as they use GPU acceleration to ensure the OS runs smoothly and that the cost hike of using dual core wouldn’t be worth it.
We have to agree that the entire OS is liquid smooth and fast, with an extremely attractive design user interface but it would be nice to see a dual core option there for anyone who specifically wanted it.
Keep in mind that the Windows Phone Marketplace reached the 40,000 app milestone this week, up around 7,000 since we reviewed the Radar not so long ago. That said, users may find the Marketplace lacking if coming from iOS or Android and as the UI is so different it may be quite alien to some.
Windows Phone does have Multitasking and copy & paste but our criticisms of the Multitasking still stand. The OS looks after the Multitasking for you, keeping the last 5 apps/pages open and closing the oldest as you open a new one. It’s still very irritating to lose something you had open in the oldest tab simply by opening a message or settings.
Microsoft are trying to keep the OS simple and clean by taking that control away from the user but again, folks used to controlling their apps in iOS or Android will definitely hate this.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all integrated into the phone’s People hub so the need for each dedicated app isn’t completely necessary and the Messaging hub has Facebook chat and MSN built in alongside your texts messages. This makes it really easy to jump between the three but still keep the same conversation going.
Battery life in the Titan is a bit underwhelming, occasionally we struggled to get a full days use out of it with the phone going into ‘Battery Saver’ mode by around 9pm. This mode can be set to automatically turn on when the battery reaches a certain level and turns off background tasks and push email etc.
The Radar went a lot further with a full charge but this can be put down to the weaker processor and smaller screen. Given that an average smartphone loses most of its’ power through the screen, it’s little surprise that the Titan has less-than-spectacular battery performance, although we like to stress that if you want a smartphone these days, you will have to charge it every day.
If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, the HTC Titan is a worthy choice and shouldn’t be overlooked be it because of its young mobile OS or oversized screen.
We would have liked to see a larger screen resolution on the Titan, especially given how much HTC are pushing the screen size as a selling point but nonetheless the 4.7 inch screen is perfect for movies, gaming on the go with Xbox Live or just to text and browse Twitter and Facebook.
If you’re looking to adopt Windows Phone as your new smartphone OS of choice, or looking to upgrade from a first-gen WP7 device the Titan is the best phone available at the moment. We would just recommend seeing and holding it in person before you buy as the size really is a ‘Marmite’ affair, you either love it or you hate it.
The HTC Titan is currently exclusive to Vodafone in Ireland and costs anywhere from free to €199.99, depending on your plan. Full plan details can be found here.
You can contact the author of this post, Luke Hoare Greene at Luke@TechTV101.com or follow him on Twitter.