HTC Titan II Review
Just half a year ago, HTC released the Titan Windows Phone. And now they recently released a second generation of the phone, the Titan II, which has seen some really nice improvements. Alas, Windows Phone has yet another 4G LTE phone to welcome into the fold! The Titan II lives up to the Titan name by sporting a 4.7″ display, a whopping 16 Megapixel camera, and a battery that can live up to high demands.
It’s not called the “Titan” for nothing. The Titan II is a large phone, and it’s best complemented by a large hand. The profile of the phone is actually quite thin (13 mm), and it has some ultra-smooth curves. While it’s a mondo-phone, it’s actually really comfortable in-hand. It has some heft, but it’s not “heavy,” weighing in at 6 ounces. The curves are even more attractive than the Titan I, and this model also has a curved chin, similar to the Galaxy Nexus or Nexus S. HTC has always been an all-star when it comes to design.
Unlike the Titan I, there is no removable battery. This was probably so that HTC could incorporate a larger battery. There is a small panel on the back of the phone that slides off for access to the full-sized SIM card. Aside from the three standard Windows touch buttons on the front (back, home, search), there are 3 physical buttons running around the sides: on/off/lock, volume up/down, and a dedicated camera button.
The large 4.7″ display is almost the entire face of the phone. There is just enough room for the three Windows touch buttons, a wide speaker, a front-facing camera, and an AT&T logo. The display is an S-LCD capacitive touchscreen, with 16M colors and a resolution of 480 x 800. With about 200 pixels per inch, it’s not quite retina (~300ppi), but that doesn’t make the screen any less gorgeous. Pixels are basically unidentifiable, and the colors seriously pop. The screen also gets very bright. Initially, we criticized the blacks for not being as deep as the Nokia Lumia 900. But without having the Lumia as a side-by-side frame of reference, we realized that the blacks are plenty dark. All in all, the Titan II’s massive, bright, and colorful display impresses us very much. It’s also worth noting that 4.7″ is by far one of the largest smartphone displays on the market.
Windows Mango OS
If you’ve never played with a Windows Phone, then add it to your agenda. Mango 7.5 OS for Windows Phone does not get the press and hype that it deserves. It is, arguably, more intuitive than both Android and iPhone. The “Tiles” layout is clean, easy, and visually stimulating. Mango essentially has two home screens: tiles and all programs. Tiles is like your Windows Desktop–you only add your favorite, go-to, apps. The other screen is more like your start menu, which lists all of your apps in alphabetical order. Tiles, which are coming to Windows 8, are “live”. The weather tile displays the current weather, the calendar tile gives you a snapshot of today’s events, the pictures tiles slowly scrolls through your photo stream, and so on.
Most first time users are immediately surprised by how smooth and responsive the interface is. Mango OS is similar to iPhone in terms of multi-tasking. The OS decides which apps to keep open, and which to close. This is terrific for battery management, but maybe a bit frustrating if you’re a techy control-freak. The app switcher is accessed from holding the back button, and is very easy, quick, and stunning. Unlike Android, and more like iPhone, there is an overall consistency in the OS design. Even 3rd party apps maintain this consistency. Swipe right or left to bounce between pages/menus, and “…” always accesses settings. The social integration is also very nice; there os support for Windows Live, Outlook, Yahoo, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
While Windows’ app market is getting there, it is not as developed as Android and iPhone. Fortunately, most of the popular mobile apps are available, and the numbers are growing pretty fast.
The camera is one of the biggest upgrades that the Titan II received. It now sports a rear-facing 16MP camera! The camera has a dedicated button, autofocus, dual LED flash, and a f2.6 28mm wide-angle lens. It can record video up to 720p HD. The front-facing camera is 1.3MP and can also record video. The camera has a number of settings and features including panorama shot, burst shots, scenes, effects, smile capturing, face detection, white balance, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, ISO, red eye reduction, image stablization, metering mode, and flicker adjustment. If it’s not apparent, the Titan II is trying to phase out your point and shoot camera.
Using the Titan II’s “intelligent auto” works near perfectly once you get the hang of it. Focussing takes practice. You can either tap an element on screen and the camera will autofocus and shoot, or you can hold the dedicated camera button half way until your desired focus is set. The photos come out very nice, and it’s amazing to have such a large screen to view them on. The photos range from 4MB to 8MB in size. The colors and details tend to be very accurate. The 720p video is also very clear, but it’s a tad choppy with a lot of motion.
The Titan II uses a 1720 mAh battery, an upgrade from Titan I’s 1600 mAh battery. Coming from an iPhone, Titan II’s battery was one of the most impressive features. With regular usage (phone calls, picture taking, 4G browsing), the phone is able to last a very full day (~15 hours) with some juice left over. Considering the Titan II has a very large and bright screen, and uses the power-hungry 4G connectivity, it was almost mind-blowing that a phone can have such a capable battery. Titan II uses a micro-USB charger, which is pretty easy to find out-and-about these days. Though I never needed it, the Titan II has a battery saver mode that shuts off services and background processes. This can be turned on manually at any time, or set to turn on when battery is low. Talk time is rated at 4.3 hours and standby time is 12.2 days.
Other Specs and Features
Unlike the Titan I, the Titan II is a 4G LTE phone, running on AT&T’s new LTE network. However, when necessary, it can fall back to the regular 3G and 2G wireless spectrum (this cannot be done manually). The Titan II is also a world phone. Like with its predecessor, it’s still powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and half a gig of RAM, which certainly seems to be doing the trick. There is 16GB of onboard storage, and unfortunately no expandable memory (i.e. micro SD).
And while it lacks the personality of Siri, the Titan II is pretty good at recognizing and processing voice commands and voice dialing. There is a neat feature called “attentive phone,” which can reduce ring volume when you move the phone, increase ring volume while in a pocket, mute the ringer when you flip the phone, or turn on speakerphone when you flip the phone mid-call. Other features include: bluetooth, speakerphone, dual-mic noise cancellation, find my phone, geotagging, AT&T’s Navigator Navigation app, Dolby Mobile and SRS Surround Sound, and a stereo FM radio.
If you’re used to typing on any touchscreen, then the Windows Mango touch keyboard is just as easy (or just as hard?). The predictive text is nice, and auto-correct works well too. Since the Titan is such a massive phone, the keyboard is a little more spaced out. This makes for easier and more accurate typing, but trickier one-handed typing.
I used the HTC Titan II alongside my iPhone 4S, both which are on ATT’s network. The Titan is LTE, and the iPhone is HSPA+. The HTC Titan was consistently more reliable, with much faster data speeds. The Internet Explorer web browser is very fast on WiFi, and really not much slower over 4G. Phone calls are as clear as can be. In terms of usability, the Titan II never slowed down, stuttered, or froze.Final Thoughts and Conclusions
Even as a die-hard iPhone user, I love the HTC Titan II. Windows Mobile (Mango) OS is a delightful interface with smooth animations, snappy reactions, and an intuitive design complete with some impressive eye candy. The 4G LTE speeds, coupled with a phenomenal battery, and a gigantic screen make it a really practical phone for every-day use. Granted, if you have smaller hands, you may be impartial to the large design. Furthermore, the dedicated camera button makes capturing great times that much easier. And who can complain about having a fully capable 16 megapixel camera with flash on their phone? Really, my only gripe, is that every now and then I have accidentally shut off the phone in my pocket when the lock button gets pressed for 10 seconds.
All in all, for an easy-to-use phone, with a solid camera, a gorgeously large screen, a great battery, and blazing 4G LTE speeds, you can’t go wrong with the HTC Titan II. While the no-commitment pricing from AT&T is $549.99, the price with a two-year contract is $199.99, which isn’t too bad at all. The HTC Titan II was released in April.
The Good: Nice (large) Design, Great Curves, Beautiful Screen (Colors+Resolution), 16MP Camera + Dedicated Button, Great Battery, 4G LTE Speeds are Fast and Reliable, Good Build, Snappy Interface
The Bad: No Removable Battery, No Expandable Memory