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A quick review of the HTC Titan X310e

review htc titan x310e

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#1 ~Johnny

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 18:24

Well I've been playing with the HTC Titan all day, so I thought I'd give it a quick review (I hope no one minds if I place it here...?)

Apologies if this review is bit rubbishy, I'm not much of a writer :p But here goes! (And apologies as well for the lack of pretty photos - my camera has gone travelling apparently, so my Omnia 7 had to pick up the slack)

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Hardware

The HTC Titan X310e is an odd one. HTC promoted their large screened HD7 as an entertainment device, complete with kickstand to let you enjoy it’s large screen wherever, whenever. With the Titan, HTC have decided to make the screen bigger – even better for enjoying movies and videos, and even chucked in HTC Watch, a video rental service – but they’ve decided to kick out the kick stand. Not a great idea.

On the front of the device you have deceptively small speaker hidden under the speaker grill, a 1.3 MP front facing camera , the 4.7” 800x480 SLCD screen, and 3 capacitive touch buttons.
In a rather peculiar design move, the screen actually sits inside the battery cover – the battery cover is not only the entire back of the phone, but it’s also each of it’s corners, and even has the speaker grill from the front of the phone. It’s not something anyone will immediately notice, but it’s a unique touch to the design.

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On the whole, the device has a fairly solid construction. It’s doesn’t “feel” much bigger than any other phone I’ve used, and it sits comfortably in hand, despite its large 4.7” screen. A lot of that is down to how lightweight the device feels, at 160 grams, it’s nice and easy to hold, even when resting on your little finger when in your hand. Unfortunately to keep that weight down, HTC has foregone their metal back plates (though rather unfortunately HTC have also committed to phasing out metal bodies to plastic over time), so the device doesn’t feel quite as nice or as premium as say, their HTC 7 Mozart. The matte plastic back plate also picks up fingerprints quite easily, that are not easily wiped off, which can give it quite an unattractive look. Still, it’s solid, and there’s no flex at all to be seen. The back itself is a rather simple, bland affair with nothing much to look at – just the camera, dual LED flash and a loudspeaker.

Thanks to being so thin and lightweight, the device easily slips into your pockets without so much as a second thought, and you’ll hardly notice it when it’s there. It certainly doesn’t “feel” like the 4.7” brute that it is.
The camera, volume & power buttons are all present, though they seem slightly *too* close to being flush to surface of the phone, which can makes them hard to find and press – especially the power button. It almost feels like you're not pressing any button, even when you do manage to find it, which just feels odd.

I'm going to add here a few fustrations with the back button using the device. By nature, whenever I reached for the back button I was consistently missing it - I was either going to far left or two far up. This might just be a behaviour that I have to learn to adjust too, but it is a tad annoying to be constantly missing the back button. Still, this issue is compounded by the fact that the button touch area is notably smaller than on other HTC Windows Phone devices, simply because there's less room for them.

Internals

Inside we’ve got 16 GB of NAND storage (12GB usable), an upgrade from last year’s series of HTC Windows Phone’s that used slower MicroSD card’s for internal memory. Of course, there’s no user-replaceable MicroSD card slot here either, so you won’t be upgrading that.

Chipwise, we’ve got an MSM8255T singlecore Snapdragn SoC clocked at 1.4 Ghz, which packs an Adreno 205 GPU. Although an update from last years 1 Ghz, Adreno 200 devices, they’re still a far cry from the latest & greatest Android devices with dualcore 1.4 Ghz, Adreno 220 devices, which is a shame. No matter how good Windows Phone performs, there’s never a good reason NOT to have more performance, especially given the top-end price tag of this device.

We’ve got what looks like a single port, and it seems that this handset doesn’t support the improved HC Voice codec. The Samsung Omnia 7 so far holds the position of being the only Windows Phone to offer HD voice.

We’ve also got simply the best camera on any Windows Phone device so far, and something HTC should be making a lot more fuss about – a backlit, 8MP, f 2.2 rear racing camera, that puts it’s competition to shame. I’ll touch more of this later, but it’s great.

There’s also a pretty average 1.3 MP front facing camera, and a rather disappointing, tiny loudspeaker on the back. No Beats Audio enhancements here (or any nice premium Beats Audio earphones like can be seen with the new HTC Sensation XE which launched alongside the Titan, for around the same price). Unlike the HTC HD7, there's no front facing stereo speakers for enjoying movie content.

Display

The Titan X310e’s apparent Pièce de résistance, it’s huge 4.7” SLCD display. It’s meant to be the devices main selling point, but it leaves something to be desired - and it's partly both HTC'cs and Microsoft fault.

The main problem is Windows Phone’s current 800x480 screen resolution restriction. Although fonts are still smooth and sharp, everything at this size simply looks comical. It’s almost impossible to take the phone seriously, especially next to the gorgeous, and more compact 4” SAMOLED display of the Omnia 7. Everything’s scaled up to slightly ridiculous sizes. If you’ve got poor eye sight, or you're a grandparent, this may quite simply be the best touch screen phone out there on the market for you. For the rest of us though, it’s just slightly weird.

However, photo’s and videos do look gorgeous on the display. You won’t particularly notice the low pixel density at any point, you’ll just be enjoying the large, clear picture. Browsing the web and viewing PDF’s and documents are also benefit from the larger screen size, despite the fact that you’re still getting exactly the same amount of content on screen as you would with any other Windows Phone device.
This is compounded by the very good viewing angles of the super LCD. Even at around 170 degrees, everything’s still perfectly viewing, with only a slightly washed out look.

Colours aren’t as vivid or as saturated as the Omnia 7’s SAMOLED display, and the Titan has a slightly warmer tint to it. It's hard to not prefer the SAMOLED displays with Windows Phone 7, especially with the dark theme where it’s unmatched contrast really shines through. Whilst the Titan’s screen never looks as excellent as the Omnia 7, blacks are still relatively dark, and the contrast is quite good. But at the end of the day, a SAMOLED + screen would have been desirable (though unfortunate only Samsung has access to their supplies for now, and they're not being made in this size yet anyway).

Windows Phone 7 already had fairly big and easy-to-hit touch targets and Titan just makes it all easier – assuming your thumb can reach across the screen without having to move your hand up and down. As long as you’re over 20 this really shouldn't be a problem for you though.

As the main selling point of the phone though, you’re left with an overall feeling of disappointment.

Software

I’m not going to bother with the merit’s of Windows Phone or the Mango update here, I’m just going to mention some HTC additions we have.

First up is HTC Watch – HTC’s movie & TV rental service. It ships with the Titan, but at the moment it’s almost completely useless. Quite literally all is has right now is trailer to 8 movies. One screen, one list, 8 trailers. Nothing else. Moving on I guess…

HTC Locations is the successor of HTC footprints – it allows you to geotag locations you’ve been too, and add photos and notes to them, and share them with friends.
There’s also the updated HTC Hub that you can find on the marketplace, nothing new or exciting here.

In settings, HTC has added a few additional menu options. Attentive phone & sound enhancer have been moved over here, along with an entirely redundant “camera modes” option (that simply tells you to launch the camera to change options). A SIM applications option has also been added to access any of those only SIM applications and services that carriers used to promote many years ago… Being a Mango device, Internet Sharing also ships as enabled by default (at least in this SIM free version).

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Special mention has to go to using the keyboard on this device – both in landscape and portrait, the screen estate makes this is one of the easiest touch-keyboards to use. After a little bit of adjustment you can easily type away entire paragraphs without making a single mis-type.

It is worth noting though that the Tango video calling app isn't live yet - and even when it does go live it's going to be WiFi only. No native 3G video calls like there will be on the next wave of Samsung devices.

Camera

This right here is the Titan’s hidden little gem. A backlit, f 2.2 8MP sensor – which on paper should put it ahead of the iPhone 4S’s much lauded camera hardware. Of course, a lot of 4S’s great picture quality is down to great software too, and I very much doubt HTC's abilities to match Apple in that regard. I don’t have a 4S to compare to, but how does the Titan compare to all the other Windows Phone devices? AMAZINGLY.

First let’s start with the speed – almost as soon as the camera app is open – the camera is up and ready to take a picture. It’s notably faster than any other Windows Phone device I’ve tried. In about 2 seconds, you can launch the camera app, and have taken a sharp, clear in-focus picture, even indoors. Unlike previous HTC cameras, the indoor performance of this device is amazing. Even without flash, it takes sharp picture with no motion blur or shake visible. There’s noise, but that’s to be expected without flash, indoors, in the dark. The fact that there’s a sharp, visible and viewable picture is amazing. Outdoors is even better – and sharp pictures.

They’re not incredibly detailed, but it’s certainly the best camera phone I’ve ever used. It’s far less likely you’ll have a great moment or memory ruined by your terrible camera phone performance. I’ll try and get some example shots up later once I’ve found some good artsy subject matter to take pictures of.
There’s also HTC’s burst & panorama modes. They’re not amazing, but they do the job. HTC have also chucked in some extremely accurate Face detection here, and swapped out touch-to-shoot- for touch-to-focus. Haven’t tested out he video yet but I have high hopes for that.

One downside is that you can’t actually view the full res 8MP photos on the device. When you zoom in, things get pixelated. This has to do with the WP7 2048x2048 texture limit I presume, but it’s a slight downer. And of course there’s STILL the thumbnail bug where the colours in the picture thumbnails in the camera reel are different to the actual picture when you begin to zoom in.
But hands down, the camera is the most exciting part if this phone.

There’s also a 1.3 MP front facing camera here. It’s got about the same picture quality as a cheap desktop webcam - It’s serviceable, and nothing to write home about. You can though take videos with it.
There’s also options to turn off continuous focusing and stereo recording when making a video.

Performance

I’ll be honest, you don’t entirely notice the improved performance much. Some apps scroll little better, some animations are a bit smoother. I’m going t have to look into this more for some better examples, but so far there doesn’t seem to be a great day-to-day performance difference, even in games.
However, benchmarks to prove it’s a much more powerful device than the current crop (and on par with the rest of the new top-end devices coming out this year)

WP Bench

Omnia 7:
CPU – 20, 720 ms
Data – 27, 530 ms
GPU – 552 frames, avg: 18 F/s.
Final Score Index – 58.28

Titan X310e:
CPU – 13, 846 ms
Data – 20, 019 ms
GPU 1226 frames, avg: 40 F/s
Final Score Index – 96.69

Wrap-up

At ~£500, the Titan is a bit underwhelming. Compared to the HTC Sensation XE, it has less RAM, less resolution, half the processing capabilities, a weaker GPU, a smaller battery, and no beats audio sound or free Beats Audio earphones. And yet, they’re both being released at the same time for around the same price. If you weren’t concerned between Windows Phone & Android, I’d say the Sensation is the much better deal. Add to the fact that HTC have toned down it’s media consumption focus by removing the kick stand and Stereo front facing speakers as seen on the HD7, the Titan isn’t that great.

For the rest of us though, I’d say wait for the next top end Samsung & Nokia devices. They’re going to have the same processing power, and they’re going to have gorgeous, AMOLED and SAMOLED + screens with more manageable, less ridiculous looking screen sizes. They may even have similar cameras, and they’re going to look a darn sight better looking than the Titan’s plan, generic HTC genes.
If however your eyesight isn’t that great, or you want to get your grandparents their first smartphone, the Titan is an ideal choice of phone, that’s easy to use and great to touch.

(Just to add to this, you can get virtually this exact phone, but in white and with Android on board instead, complete with free beats audio earphones and sans the dedicated camera button in the coming months in the form of the HTC Sensation XL. For presumably the same price)




A few Camera samples

Apologies for the lack of decent shots, haven;t had much chance to get outside with it today - but I will try and get some good outdoors shots with it tomorrow.

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If you're got any questions about the device or think I should add some stuff to the above please do say


#2 mArcade

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 03:06

Thank you for the review! I've been looking everywhere for coverage.

#3 efjay

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 12:33

2 things: the HD7 did not have stereo speakers, the grills were just for decoration. 2nd, did you feel performance was lacking or are you just going on the specs themselves when you say the android phone is better? Did you do a comparison with one of those dual core android phones?

#4 Muhammad Farrukh

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 12:49

At ~£500, the Titan is a bit underwhelming. Compared to the HTC Sensation XE, it has less RAM, less resolution, half the processing capabilities, a weaker GPU, a smaller battery, and no beats audio sound or free Beats Audio earphones. And yet, they’re both being released at the same time for around the same price.


There should be no comparison between the two.
Android needs more RAM, on the other hand WP7 works perfectly fine with 512 mb RAM.
When it comes to processing capabilities, these are just numbers. Why would you want to compare it with Android which even lags at 1.2-1.4 GHz Dual-Core CPUs, while WP7 runs butter-smooth even on 1 GHz Single-Core CPUs.
Same goes with GPU.
Battery and beats audio are two things you can compare between the two.
Same price argument.
Well, its a matter of platform choice really.
And they should be equally priced.


On a side note, nice review, otherwise.

The only thing that seems a let-down, from what I have read and heard, is the screen resolution.
It simply deserves more pixels, given a generous 4.7 inches of WP7 goodness

#5 courtlandre

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 13:06

2 things: the HD7 did not have stereo speakers, the grills were just for decoration. 2nd, did you feel performance was lacking or are you just going on the specs themselves when you say the android phone is better? Did you do a comparison with one of those dual core android phones?


The point is that we are paying the same price for lesser hardware regardless of perceived speed (yes windows phone is much faster).

#6 Muhammad Farrukh

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 13:07


The point is that we are paying the same price for lesser hardware regardless of perceived speed (yes windows phone is much faster).


So there is no point at all.
End of story

#7 OP ~Johnny

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 13:14


So there is no point at all.
End of story


The point is on hardware alone they're making us pay for something that's simply got less in it. The hardware costs of the Android device are probably notably more, butthe Windows Phone device is sold for the same price. Plus the fact they probably put a lot more R & D costs into their Android work, it just seems like they could have made it cheaper. Of course, I had the same issue with last year's HD7 that was priced the same as their older HD2, despite being nearly the same hardware as the older device.

I don't really care if the Android device needs more power to be as smooth, I'd just prefer they actually passed the saving onto us instead of just marking it up.

Did you feel performance was lacking or are you just going on the specs themselves when you say the android phone is better? Did you do a comparison with one of those dual core android phones?



I'm not of the opnion that the Android is better per sé, just that on hardware alone, it seems a bit unfair for them to be priced the same with all extra power and Android version has. Infact, where I bought it from the Titan was more expensive than the XE.

The performance is great as most Windows Phone devices, I'll have more comparisons on that with other Windows Phone's later on today with some numbers. And I'm actually going to go out and get hopefully get some proper camera samples in the next couple of hours.

#8 Muhammad Farrukh

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 13:27


The point is on hardware alone they're making us pay for something that's simply got less in it. The hardware costs of the Android device are probably notably more, butthe Windows Phone device is sold for the same price. Plus the fact they probably put a lot more R & D costs into their Android work, it just seems like they could have made it cheaper. Of course, I had the same issue with last year's HD7 that was priced the same as their older HD2, despite being nearly the same hardware as the older device.


People said same thing about Symbian.
I won't buy it because its got 480 MHz or 600 MHz processor.
e.t.c.
The point is why do you need, say, Radeon 6950 HD when Radeon 6750 is playing your desired game at highest settings, at highest resolution at 120 FPS?
Sure, when you play with 6950 you'll get 160 FPS but its gonna cost you more electricity bill.
Similarly, when you put a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU and run it with WP7, you are gonna end up charging your phone every 5 hours, say. Because the excess of CPU power is getting into trash.
But when you've got a 1 GHz CPU, that does exactly the same what 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU does, then you are gonna have to charge the phone every 8 hours, say.
See the difference

#9 OP ~Johnny

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 13:36

Similarly, when you put a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU and run it with WP7, you are gonna end up charging your phone every 5 hours, say. Because the excess of CPU power is getting into trash.
But when you've got a 1 GHz CPU, that does exactly the same what 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU does, then you are gonna have to charge the phone every 8 hours, say.
See the difference


It's not the power that's really concerning. I'm personally not all that bothered by it (though I really would have loved that Adreno 220 GPU) - it's just it really should not be the same price, simple as.

Though two extra things to consider - a lot of people are going to buy these on two years contract, and they're going to be stuck with these currently pretty average specs for that time. They're not going to appreciate this hardware in hindsight, and it's something you have to consider when you go out to buy a new phone. Obviously nothing is going to stand the test of time, but some come out the other end a lot better off than others.

Second thing - a dual-core 1.5 could potentially use less power - not least the fact each of the cores on the dual core versions are more power efficient than the earlier single core variant, and they have a more powerful and efficient GPU to go along side them. Instead of maxing out 1 core, you could undervolt both, running background services on one at a very low speed, and foreground applications on another, and still be saving power overall. It's only if you're entirely maxing out both cores, or you haven't tailored your operating system and programs to take advantage of both cores that you'll see a significant power usage increase. Obviously Microsoft haven't done that yet, so a dual core can't be put in there. But why not charge us less than HTC? If they want their Windows Phone devices to sel, they should chuck us a bone.

#10 OP ~Johnny

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 17:40

Some more camera shots from outdoors - a tad eager on noise suppression, but nice enough (though the detail is set to normal, not super fine)

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#11 Zain Adeel

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 23:16

good review.
The camera is really nice!!..
the Camera on Omnia 7 is poor compared to similar spec'd Nokia devices ive used.
The dog pictures are great!.

Also the faster GPU will benefit with some games which start to slow down at some points. Like this game i love called Chain Reaction.

And the design is pretty. I wasnt too sure it would look this nice out of the marketing shots.
I am a big fan of AMOLEDs after using them and i wouldnt buy a phone without it if its a WP7 device. The killerblacks make me drool everynight when i use the phone in the dark. Its amazing how beautiful the display is compared to anything from the Retina display to other SLCDs out there.

#12 pupdawg21

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 23:45

I would assume HTC is trying to squeeze a higher profit margin out of these devices and they also have to pay a license fee to Microsoft I'm sure for the difference in hardware. Also, it maybe that Windows Phone 7 does not support those particular processors/gpu chips yet. I don't think WP7 support any of the shipping Dual core cpu/gpu combos out. As others have said if its still smoother than the competition using less hardware and adding the faster hardware wouldn't makeit any smoother, there is virtually no benefit to having the beefier hardware. This is like running a single threaded application on a 12 core processor. You wont benefit at all.

#13 tsupersonic

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 23:51

Does look like a sweet device. Thanks for the review.

#14 The Teej

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 23:51

Why oh why did you have to shine bad light on all of the points that's made me shy away from this :(

I mean, thanks for the review, you've let me dodge a bullet here, I really appreciate that. It's just now back to the drawing board on what phone I want now that the Titan seems so... average.

#15 Tony.

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 23:54


People said same thing about Symbian.
I won't buy it because its got 480 MHz or 600 MHz processor.
e.t.c.
The point is why do you need, say, Radeon 6950 HD when Radeon 6750 is playing your desired game at highest settings, at highest resolution at 120 FPS?
Sure, when you play with 6950 you'll get 160 FPS but its gonna cost you more electricity bill.
Similarly, when you put a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU and run it with WP7, you are gonna end up charging your phone every 5 hours, say. Because the excess of CPU power is getting into trash.
But when you've got a 1 GHz CPU, that does exactly the same what 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU does, then you are gonna have to charge the phone every 8 hours, say.
See the difference


That's a terrible way of thinking about things. For starters, newer CPU's like what are in our phones are getting smaller, using less power and increasing in performance. Saying that a Dual Core processor from this year means it'll use double the power than a single core from last year or the year before is silly because as I just said, CPU's get faster, smaller and more power efficient and the chances are, they'll draw the same amount of power as their single core counter parts because of this.

Also, saying that a graphics card will run one game at 120 fps and another graphics card runs the same game at 160fps means nothing. Because in the long run the latter card will perform longer and last longer in terms of performance just because it's simply faster. Games and applications increase in code size and compute more complicated instructions or generate more demanding graphics and so on. With your idea of thinking, we should all stick to 386 based computers because at one point, that's all we needed. But that's obviously not true.