HTC Titan II
On September 1st 2011 HTC released one of the first Windows Phone 7.5 phones – the HTC Titan. The Titan earned it’s designation with a massive 4.7inch screen and garnered praise for its well-made design. On January 9th 2012 the HTC Titan II not only brings the same 4.7inch screen, but with two immediately noticeable changes: AT&T’s ultra-fast 4G LTE and a massive 16 megapixel camera to match its screen size.
Officially starting off Windows Phone Fans’ hardware reviews, our very own Paul Neafsey breaks down his review into key areas of interests such as design, camera, and applications to give a better insight on the HTC Titan II.
The HTC Titan II – while containing many Windows Phone standards – offers a few notable exceptions. The namesake feature is the brilliant 4.7inch OLED screen with 720×640 pixelation (a pixel density of ~199 ppi) which lends itself to term “mini-tablet”. Combined with a few ergonomic and functional changes the Titan II feels like a true successor to the original Titan – but are they enough?
Measuring in at 132x69x13 mm many people might not expect such a sizable devise to be as light and comfortable as it actually feels. At 147 grams the Titan II is 13 grams lighter than its predecessor and many competitors. The addition of a curved glass bottom also creates an ergonomic feel when accessing the Windows Phone touch buttons. It naturally follows with the curve of the thumb. The reworked buttons have a more tactile feel and lend themselves better to one-handed use. While lacking a uni-body construction, the metal-clad Titan II feels solid, giving a quality of build deceptive of it’s light weight.
Everything from the buttons to the SIM card cover are a testament to HTC’s history of quality design.
Here’s what we like about the Design:
Screen Real Estate: The 4.7″ screen allows for more surface area and is optimal for videos, games, and web pages.
Secure and Solid - In the previous Titan, a push-button was all that stood between the user and the phone’s components. The new design adds a second layer of security in the form of a SIM card cover. Access to the SIM card is still one step, but to access the components requires additional steps. For even more added security, the newly designed cover includes an automatic restart function when removed.
Here’s what we don’t like about the design:
Less Access – While more secure, restricting access to the components also includes the battery. The added security is nice, but occasional access to the battery is required.
Can’t Contain that Camera: The body of the Titan II hardly contains the massive 16MP camera (See our camera section). The camera casing visibly sticks out from the body of the phone.
The Titan II has earned its powerful title. With 512 MB RAM and a 1.5GHz processor, the user can put the internal 16GB of memory to good (and swift) use. As one of the first Windows Phones with AT&T’s 4G LTE, this speed is even more important. Users will be thankful for this extra power when streaming, downloading, and uploading media content.
Reviewer Note: The Titan II – as with most Windows Phones – comes with the ability to create an internet sharing hotspot. We tested this feature to tether two e-readers and a laptop at the same time. We experienced only a slight slow-down which is impressive when considering the test was done in an area where only HSPA+ 4G was available.
While the ~199 ppi screen is the same density as the original Titan’s screen, the screen does give brighter whites for improved daytime viewing. The Titan II also features a larger battery than its predecessor with a 1730 mAh capacity. The extra battery capacity is especially useful when using the large screen and fast processor.
Here’s what we like about the Function:
Power of a Titan – The 1.5 GHz processor of the Titan II adds to the already fast and smooth performance the Windows Phone platform is known for. This ensures an enjoyable experience no matter what the users throws at it.
Speed– In mulitiple instances, applications started faster on the Titan II than the Titan I even though 4G LTE was not available. The speed increase is instantly noticeable where AT&T’s 4G LTE is available.
Here’s what we didn’t like about the Function:
Only a “Good” Screen – The pixel density of the screen, while beautiful, is disappointing when compared to other high-end competitors such as the Nokia Lumia 900 (~217 ppi) and far below the iPhone 4′s “retina display” 326 ppi. Though these differences in no way limit the HTC Titan II, it would have been nice to see an increase from its predecessor at least. The screen is just good, not great.
Camera, Video, and Sound
One of the most touted featured of the Titan II is its incredible 16 megapixel (MP) camera. While many competitors are standardizing around the 8MP range, the Titan II raises the bar. Beyond just the hardware, HTC includes many functions Windows Phone users would typically have to employ third-party applications to enjoy. Even before the official Photosynth application was released, HTC Windows Phones enjoyed an impressive and functional Panoramic Shot as well as built-in optimization and Burst Shot options.
The camera can be shot in 720p (1280×720) High Definition video, but the video shooting function benefits the most from the superior auto focus. While capturing video, the built-in auto-focus continually ensures that all but the most jolting experiences will come out well. In a number of real-world tests in a loud and crowded environment the Titan II was able to clearly pick up the subject of the video without the use of a microphone. While not perfect – unless there is a spike in background noise – all but the professional videographers will be pleased.
Here’s what we like about the camera/video/sound:
16MP! Come on!– The clarity and details in the camera compared to other mobile handsets sets itself apart.
Reviewer Note: We had the opportunity to talk to a professional photographer at a local convention. When we brought out the HTC Titan II to take a personal picture, he was impressed with the “quality from a phone” that was produced, the zoom, and the speed of the focus.
Video Capture – While the still pictures are certainly impressive, the videos produced the standout feature. The video makes great use of the extra mega-pixels and focus.
Here’s what we didn’t like about the camera/video/sound:
Don’t Crank it Up – The built-in speakers work great for calls and most uses. That being said – people who enjoy loud music and audiophiles will want to use headphones. When maxed out, the speakers start to exhibit a “tinny” distortion when playing high-pitched music.
Within the Microsoft Windows Phone ecosystem, there are few ways to differentiate products from the internal competition. The creation of unique applications is one of the best ways to stand apart. While the Nokia Lumia line has garnered attention for their exclusive offerings, each manufacturer also produces their own elite features. The flagship of the HTC offerings is the “HTC Hub”. This application gathers many of the most common and useful features into one easy to use Live Tile. Weather, Stocks, Global Clocks, and News create the backbone of the app as well as updates on new and interesting games and apps on the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Here’s what we like about the Apps:
Quality: Every application in the HTC Apps section offers something not only useful, but well made. The lowest rated Application stands at 2.5/5 stars with the most common complaint being regional unavailability, while HTC Hub has a 5/5 rating.
Here’s what we didn’t like about the Apps:
Slim Pickings – Including the HTC Hub there are only about a dozen unique applications in the HTC Apps section. Even the HTC Hub, while well made, still in essence only combines multiple other applications into one.
The Titan II offers a great many features and functions that help it differentiate itself from the pack. Since the Windows Phone platform standardizes around minimum requirements, the ability to set itself apart is paramount when offering a premium handset at a premium price.
Here’s what we generally like about the HTC Titan II:
POWER – The single-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S2 processor adds extra power to the already powerful Windows Phone platform. This is one of the most powerful processors available on current generation Windows Phone handsets.
Battery Power – The larger 1730mHa battery adds greater usage time than the Titan I and is larger than many competitors. Unless using power hungry operations – such as video and GPS – the added battery capacity allows most users to go long periods between charges.
Camera– The camera is the stand-out feature of the HTC Titan II. The HTC Titan II takes full advantage of the 16MP with its 4640×3480 pixels, auto focus and ISO settings up to 1600. For an added bonus, the camera has built-in functions like Panoramic and Burst shot that usually require the installation of other applications. Whether used for still pictures or video, the 16MP camera adds an extra level of clarity usually reserved for professional photography.
Feel – The single most common comment – alongside the large screen size – is how incredibly light yet sturdy the handset truly feels.
Here’s what we generally didn’t like about the HTC Titan II:
Size – Many find the large size of the screen an asset, but it’s a valid argument that others will find the size too much.
Pixel Density – Microsoft’s decision to standardize around the WVGA screen format has a number of benefits for the company, but for a phone like the Titan II this translates to a decrease in resolution.
Camera Casing – The fact that the camera lens protrudes from the body, raises concerns when placing the phone on hard surfaces. While the lens stands up to most any punishment the mere fact of the design will give users pause.
Price– A few months ago the $200 asking price with contract would be reasonable for such a premium offering; however, there is stiff competition since the introduction of the HEAVILY subsidized Nokia Lumia 900.
Each customer will have to determine, if the premium price ($200 with contract) is worth the premium experience, for themselves. Especially with the current offering of other high-end Windows Phone handsets at lower prices. Anyone who wants a Smartphone capable of utilizing the Windows Phone OS with both horsepower and grace – plus an amazing camera – will find the HTC Titan II just might be the phone they’ve been looking for.
Score: Try It!!!
* The HTC Titan II was provided for review by AT&T. We would like to thank them for making this product review possible.