After reviewing the HTC Radar a couple of weeks ago, today I have a hands-on review of the second Windows Phone from HTCs October 2011 WP7 device refresh. The phone is called the HTC Titan, and it certainly is a Titan in all respects.
The device is dominated by a massive 4.7-inch display on the front, a slim, black and very HTC design along with a processor that’s much faster than previous Windows Phones. Essentially this device is an upgrade from the first-gen HTC HD7, and an upgrade it certainly is.
Below is a full table of the HTC Titan’s specifications. As you can see, the device’s main feature is the 4.7” 480 x 800 display and single-core Qualcomm processor at 1.5 GHz. It also features 16 GB of internal storage and an 8 MP camera, already cementing itself as a top-of-the-line HTC device.
Codenamed "HTC Eternity"
|GSM Bands||850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900|
|3G Bands||HSPA 850 / 900 / 2100|
4.7-inch 480x800 S-LCD
200 ppi pixel density
5-point capacitive multi-touch
Qualcomm MSM8255T Snapdragon (S2) chipset
1.5 GHz single-core Scorpion CPU
16 GB internal storage
12.8 GB available storage space
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
8 MP rear camera with autofocus and dual-LED flash
1.3 MP front camera
720p video recording (rear)
MicroUSB (charging, data)
3.5mm audio jack
|Battery||Li-ion 1,600 mAh removable|
|Launch OS||Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango"|
|Launch Date||October 2011|
|Size & Weight||
131.5 x 70.7 x 9.9 mm
Really there are no notable emissions from the specification list, except for the microSD card slot which not many Windows Phones have anyway and only 720p video recording despite specs that could easily support 1080p.
This review is pretty lengthy, so if you only want to find out about certain features skip to the appropriate section below, or simply watch the video overview on the next page.
- Introduction and Specifications
- Video Overview
- Design and Display
- Media Playback & Call Quality
- Battery Life and Conclusion
Here is a short video overview of the HTC Titan, because sometimes reading a review as long as this one can be tedious.
When I first pulled the HTC Titan from the box, I was astonished at just how enormous the phone is. It’s like a slate that is just small enough to fit in your hands and in your pockets, dominated by a gargantuan display. It simply dwarfs all other phones, and effectively reaches the maximum size a phone can be before it morphs into a phone/tablet combo.
HTC still managed to cram on the required three capacitive buttons along the bottom, front-facing camera and speaker into the front design, somehow. The back of the device sees a slightly raised camera with LED flash, speaker grill and HTC/Windows Phone branding. The entire back panel is removable, showing the battery and SIM card slot underneath.
Apart from the simply massive footprint of the device, the rest of the device manages to be quite conservative with size. It comes in at just 9.9mm thick, and the minimalist squared design goes well with the entire HTC Windows Phone line-up and the software on the device as well. I really liked the white design of the HTC Radar previously, but I seem to like the black-on-black color scheme here more.
As always with HTC devices, the build quality is outstanding. Materials feel strong, solid and expensive while still looking fantastic. The device feels light for the size thanks to the use of plastic and aluminium, which thankfully also strengthens the build. Apart for the buttons there are no creaks or odd noises emitted from the device when pressure is applied: always a good sign.
The only gripe I have about the large design is the placement of the power button at the top. While using the device with one hand you generally hold the Titan in the middle, but when going to turn off or on the phone’s display you must awkwardly shift the phone downwards in your hands to reach the button on top. I feel like a side power button is much more appropriate like that on the Samsung Galaxy S II.
The display is amazing.
That’s pretty much all that needs to be said about what you get with the massive 4.7-inch display on the HTC Titan. While it’s not 1280 x 720 HD like on the Galaxy Nexus, it’s still a very, very nice display to use. It’s so big that viewing text is easy despite the low pixel density, there is enough screen real estate to comfortably watch movies and it’s vibrant enough to show beautiful photos.
If 4.7” is too large, don’t get the phone. It’s as simple as that. I know such a large device is not suited to everyone, but I personally loved how large the display was. Everything was better with a bigger screen and really there were no annoyances with apps at all. Brightness, viewing in the sun and viewing in the dark were all great with the Titan.
Not only was I stunned by the size and greatness of the display, but so were many of the people I showed the device to in the short time I had it. People were surprised such a big display was possible on a phone and couldn’t resist using it for longer than I would have liked. Some people even mentioned that their current smartphones feel inadequate in comparison to the Titan.
Again: the display is amazing.
As I mentioned in my HTC Radar review, there is not much to say about the software included on the HTC Titan. It comes loaded with the latest build of Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango”, so that means no updates required. As you would expect, all the features of Windows Phone 7.5 are included in full.
When it comes to added apps from HTC, you get the HTC Hub, a blend of weather, stocks and news – accompanied by a Live tile with weather – in a similar fashion to Sense on Android. It’s a nice app which brings together business-related information, but unfortunately it can be a tad slow to browse when updating the content.
There is also the Photo Enhancer app, which is a basic photo manipulation app that can add a variety of filters to your already taken photos. You also get HTC Watch, and if you are in a compatible country you will be able to rent or buy movies from HTC’s service. Unfortunately Watch doesn’t work here in Australia so I can’t really tell you whether it’s good, but it’s included nonetheless.
Oddly HTC included a Notes app, which is graphically nice but seems strange to have when Microsoft Office OneNote is included with Windows Phone and syncs to SkyDrive so you can access your notes anywhere. As with some Android phones, the Locations app is present so you can mark cool places you’ve been to and find new landmarks.
Finally there is the Connected Media app, which allows you to stream photos and videos from a media server on your WiFi network straight to your phone. It’s a pretty basic app, but it works and could be useful to some users.
Apart from that you get stock Windows Phone 7.5 and the Marketplace for expanding your app library. I actually really like how Windows Phone prohibits custom skins like HTC Sense so that you are left with stock, and stock is pretty darn good on WP7.
The first wave of Windows Phones all had a very similar chipset on the inside: the Qualcomm “Snapdragon” QSD 8250 with a 1 GHz single-core “Scorpion” processor and Adreno 200 graphics, usually accompanied by 512 MB of RAM. This was due to Microsoft’s strict hardware requirement at the time to make it easier for developers to create apps for Windows Phone.
Here we are with the second batch. The HTC Radar (younger brother to this phone) has essentially the same chipset that the Titan has: the upgraded Qualcomm MSM 8255. The only slight difference is the clock speed of the processor, bumped from 1 GHz on the Radar to 1.5 GHz with the MSM 8255T chipset here on the Titan. This is accompanied by 512 MB of RAM.
When it comes to graphics you get a bump from the Adreno 200 to the Adreno 205, and while in terms of numbering it doesn’t seem like much, the 205 delivers around a 75-80% performance increase as you’ll see below.
In real world testing the HTC Titan is more than capable of delivering the necessary amount of performance. Coming clocked at 1.5 GHz gives it a serious advantage over older generation Windows Phones, and naturally this means it can take on every application thrown at it without struggle. I never experienced lag in the entire time I used the device; not once did it crash either which was a fantastic sight.
For a synthetic benchmark I used WP Bench which consistently delivers solid results.
As you can see, the HTC Titan’s clock speed boost means it delivers speeds around 30% faster than 1 GHz CPU Windows Phones for a 50% increase in clock speed. I would have liked to see a 50% increase in speed, but 30% is still a conservable enough boost.
Even better were the GPU performance results. It smashed the older HTC 7 Mozart and also slightly edged out the HTC Radar to deliver 40 FPS: around a 95% increase over the older GPU hardware.
If you’re thinking about upgrading your HTC HD7, the performance of this phone definitely is a selling point combined with the other factors.
As a top-end Windows Phone from HTC I was hoping for a top-end camera, and specifications wise it’s pretty close. You get an 8 megapixel rear camera with autofocus and dual-LED flash plus a 1.3 MP front-facing camera. HTC haven’t been known for great cameras, but in all respects this one is pretty good at taking still shots.
Now I do say still shots for a reason, and that’s because the video recording capability is not exactly the best I have seen. It does record at 720p, it has continual autofocus and the picture is actually pretty sharp; however the camera takes too long to adjust focus and lighting, meaning that half the video record is the camera adjusting to stuff slowly. Check out the sample video below for what I mean.
On to the still camera. Focus quality is quite good on the Titan, with the camera managing to focus as close as 4 cm to the subject. It can take some time to focus to small objects close up, but when you do manage it delivers, at times, great depth of field and macro shots (as some of the shots below show).
Wide shots, as with the Radar, deliver stunning-quality imagery of the sky. For some reason, the camera that is in both these devices manages to accurately represent not only the color of the sky, but also the beauty with crisp shots. 8 MP is perfect for wide shots, and while 100% crops are still not fantastic it does give some leeway for digital zooming/resizing. Contrast is also quite good, easily showing both sky and the subject in good light.
Color quality is, as I mentioned before, stunning when it comes to photographing blues (and at times reds as well). I did notice, however, that there appears to be a slight yellow hue to all the images I took especially with the sun shining hard on the image area. This can wash out greens somewhat where there is a variety of colors, but nothing Photoshop couldn’t correct with the automatic corrective modes.
Low light performance on the phone itself is very good. The Titan manages to deliver a smooth camera preview even when higher ISOs and lower shutter speeds are needed, and focusing is quite quick. Low-light images do present some noticeable grain but manage to be brighter than their real-life counterparts. The dual-LED flash is quite powerful, but acts more like a spotlight than a proper flash and should only be used when absolutely needed.
Yes, the above image really was taken with low-light conditions
At the end of the day I didn’t find the Titan’s camera to be terrible like I was somewhat expecting; instead I experienced a fairly good camera, capable of delivering terrific shots where the focal range is used appropriately. It does have its issues, mostly with the camcorder, and while it doesn’t manage to take top-spot it still is good for this type of device.
Media Playback & Call Quality
I recall hating on the SRS enhancement mode that was found in the HTC Radar’s Sound Enhancer; however coming to the HTC Titan I was blown away by the difference between the Radar and Titan’s sound. SRS mode sounds awesome on the Titan, emphasising bass just enough while keeping the mid-range and high tones strong.
This seemed incredibly odd to me, so I turned the enhancement off and it sounded nowhere near as good. Who could have thought that two devices from the same manufacturer would produce differently enhanced sound?
Therefore I’m left with the conclusion that the Titan has amazing audio quality. After a lot of thinking, comparing, re-thinking and re-comparing I decided that the Titan has better audio than my so-called “perfect” Galaxy S’ audio. I didn’t think this was possible, but the results speak for themselves and I have to say the Titan produces great audio.
As always, I have my selection of seven different video media to try on the device. Results are as expected for this generation of Windows Phones and are below:
SD 640x360 WMV
WMV3 video, WMA2 2ch audio
The Big Bang Theory
SD 624x352 AVI
XviD video, MP3 2ch audio
|Synced and perfect playback|
Epic Rap Battles of History 7
HD 1280x720 MP4
H.264 YouTube video, AAC 2ch audio
HD 1280x720 MP4
H.264 video, AAC 6ch audio
Not recognized by Zune; wouldn’t sync to device.
Full HD 1920x800 MKV
H.264 video, DTS 6ch audio
|Not recognized by Zune; wouldn’t sync to device|
THX Amazing Life
Full HD 1920x1080 MT2S
H.264 video, AC3 6ch audio
|Not recognized by Zune; wouldn’t sync to device|
Full HD 1920x1080 MP4
H.264 YouTube video, AAC 2ch audio
Despite not having a 1080p display or supporting 1080p video recording
Playback is exactly the same was what I saw on the HTC Radar. XviD AVIs work fine (yay!) along with MP4s with 2-channel audio right up to 1080p. Unless you have your collection in weird and generally unused formats, you should be reasonably happy with the media playback on the HTC Radar.
What I did notice was that the screen makes watching videos awesome. Due to the sheer size it doesn’t really make you squint to look at the details of the film or TV show, and you can hold the device a reasonable distance from your eyes while still having a good picture size. In that respect I would highly recommend the Titan if you enjoy watching movie content on your mobile phone.
In other news we have the call quality. I honestly don’t know why I still bother mentioning this, because all phones I try have pretty much the same in-call audio quality. The Titan is no exception, and delivers clear, crisp and audible voice audio to both ends; and despite the size it’s still comfortable to hold up to your ear.
I was actually surprised at the battery life on the HTC Titan. With a 4.7” screen to power you would think the device would clap out after just a few hours, but I actually managed to get around two days of usage out of the battery. This was with moderate usage including some camera use, messaging, browsing and the usual combo of social networking applications.
Naturally heavy use of the display can see you using the battery reasonably quickly in the device, and while I didn’t have the time to properly test a full rundown I estimate you could do it in around six hours considering the usage patterns I was experiencing.
Not to worry! If you do end up using your battery frequently and don’t find 1.5-2 days of moderate usage acceptable enough, you can simply swap out your battery or buy an extended battery. Where the Radar didn’t have any removable battery options, the Titan’s back cover comes off and reveals the battery slot, ready for you to change the battery whenever you need. Thanks, HTC.
As I finish writing my review of the HTC Titan I look at the device and one simple thought jumps into my head: this is the best Windows Phone device available today. Its huge, gorgeous display is the major attraction of this phone and feels right at home despite the gargantuan size. Viewing any content on such a display is simply awesome.
HTC also manages to deliver another fantastic build with the Titan; metal/plastic design, slightly curved and grey-black color scheme makes it feel like you are holding an expensive device (which it is). The power button is a slight annoyance, but I am willing to look past that issue when you have a device of this quality, and performance. Did I mention it’s the fastest Windows Phone available?
A device of this calibre naturally has a high asking price. MobiCity (thanks to them again for providing this device) currently has the device priced at AU$730, which is slightly steep. The HTC HD7, the predecessor to the Titan, is available for AU$400, making the Titan $330 (!) more expensive. It also comes in considerably more than the AU$450 HTC Radar, the device which is the younger brother to the Titan and one that I have mentioned several times in this review.
I expect the Titan will fall by $60-80 in asking price in the next couple of weeks (as is usually the case with MobiCity), which would give the device an AU$650 price at best. Where $730 seems just too steep, I think I could easily recommend the device if it was $650 considering all the benefits you get as a top-of-the-line device.
On a more global note, if you can find the device for around this price (690 USD; 430 GBP; 480 EUR) I would say it’s an appropriate price. I hear this device might be coming to the United States soon, and I would expect upwards of US$200 on a contract.
Thanks to MobiCity for providing us with the HTC Titan for review. At the time of writing, the device was fully updated, and will be returned soon after publication.