HTC Titan II Review (AT&T)

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The HTC Titan II came out the same day as the Nokia Lumia 900, but hasn’t seen as much press coverage — or sales, for that matter. Still, it has some great features that are worth taking a look at, especially that 16 megapixel camera HTC has included. This is the first time HTC has included a 16 megapixel camera on any of their phones, Android included. Is it worth the extra price compared to the Nokia Lumia 900? Read on for our full review.

BOX CONTENTS







The HTC Titan II comes in your usual orange AT&T-branded box. Inside the box you’ve got a small USB charger, microUSB cable, and some documentation. No headphones or anything special. You’ll have to buy any accessories you want separately.

VIDEO REVIEW

HARDWARE

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The HTC Titan II looks a lot like just about every other HTC-designed phone that they’ve made in the past few years. It’s got the rounded corners, large protruding camera, and thin speaker grill. It’s kind of HTC’s new style I guess. Above you can see how the screen looks outdoors. With full brightness it’s certainly readable, but still a bit washed out.

The phone’s dimensions are 69 x 132 x 13 millimeters, and it weighs 147 grams. The Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255T 1.5GHz CPU and 512MB RAM keep the device running very smoothly. The Titan II also has 16GB of storage and a large 4.7-inch, 480 x 800 pixel Super LCD screen. In terms of network bands on this model we’ve got GSM 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS 850/900/1900/2100, CSD, GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, and a secondary phone radio with LTE700 and LTE1700/2100. Of course it also has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, FM radio, accelerometer, etc. There’s a 16-megapixel camera on the back with a dual LED flash. The front facing camera is 1.3 megapixels and the battery has a comfortable 1730mAh capacity.

For complete specs, see PDADB.net

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The left side has only the microUSB port. I’ve always found charging ports on the side of devices to be very awkward. They don’t work well in vertical car holders and they don’t work well if you keep the phone in a cup-holder in your car either.

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The right side is where you’ll find the nicely-done dedicated camera button along with the volume rocker button. The camera button includes a slightly different texture so that you can feel for it without looking at the phone. It also has a good feel for the half-press and full-press shutter releases.

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On the top is the 3.5 millimeter headset jack and power button. The power button is actually quite flush with the device so you might find it difficult to feel for.

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On the bottom you’ll see the microphone hole is a bit larger so that people can hear you better on phone calls now.

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On the back you’ll see the large 16 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, and a speaker. The material is a soft-touch matte plastic and the coloring fades to a lighter shade at the bottom around the “Windows Phone” logo. Then you’ve got a textured panel at the bottom which you can remove to reveal the SIM card slot.

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Here’s a look at what’s under the removable panel. Unfortunately there’s no way to replace the battery while on the road, and of course there’s no expandable storage here either.

SOFTWARE

If you’re not already familiar with the Windows Phone operating system that powers the HTC Titan II, be sure to take a good look at our Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 7.5 Reviews. There are many, many features in the OS that you’re sure to enjoy, but for the sake of this review, we’re mostly only going to look at what kind of added value HTC has brought to the table.

AT&T has bundled all of their usual Windows Phone applications with the HTC Titan II. You get AT&T Code Scanner, Navigator, Radio, and U-Verse Mobile as well as the MyAT&T account manager. Some of these apps require additional paid subscriptions, but if you don’t want to use them, a tap and hold in the program listing will give you an easy way to remove them.

HTC has actually added some great functionality to their Windows Phone 7 devices and you’ll find their options at the bottom of the settings listing.

The Attentive phone options are my favorites. You can set the phone to mute by turning it face down while ringing, or while you’re on a call, you can switch to speaker phone mode just by setting the phone face down. It also has options for a louder ring when the phone is in your pocket, and a quieter ring when you pick the phone up to look at the caller ID.

There’s also a hearing aid mode that increases in-call volume as well as some sound enhancement options.

By default you get the HTC Hub on the home screen and once you open it, you’ll activate the live weather tile which can be useful. The Hub also allows you to pin Live Tiles for multiple weather cities, stock quotes, and news feeds to your start screen.

In the Windows Phone Marketplace, you’ll find a special section for HTC apps that are exclusive to HTC-branded Windows Phones. A couple of my favorites are the flashlight and compass apps as well as HTC Locations, which gives you GPS navigation features. Offline map data is available for free for 30 days, but after that you can subscribe or purchase map data outright. HTC Watch is another good one that lets you rent or buy movies to watch on your device. Image enhancer is fun if you like silly effects filters.

CAMERA

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HTC has included some significant customizations to the camera app. You’ll see quite a few more options in the settings area than you’ll find on other Windows Phones. My favorite feature is the panorama mode which reloads the viewfinder with a panoramic UI. Burst shot mode is also useful, but it sometimes takes too long to get to in order to capture a quick series of photos. You’ve also got a lot of effects options and scene modes.

If you’re using tap to capture, be sure to check your metering mode settings first. By default it exposes around the focus point, so if you’re focusing on something in a shadow area, you’ll likely clip the highlights.



The 16 megapixel photos look great when you take nice bright outdoor shots; however there is some definite noise if you zoom in on these photos. The noise is much more prevalent on lower light photos, and it’s important to note some focusing issues in low light scenarios, considering the camera does not use the LED lights for autofocus assist. Be sure to check out our full review on Pocketnow.com for more sample photos.

CameraTest


Above is a series of 100% crop selections from a variety of smartphone cameras. The 100% crops will give you a pixel for pixel comparison. You can download full resolution versions of each here: Nokia N8, Nokia Lumia 710, Nokia Lumia 900, HTC Titan II.

In the above close-ups, clearly the Lumia 710 with its 5 megapixel camera is on the low end. The Lumia 900 seems to be a bit brighter and includes some artificial sharpening by default. The Titan II is brighter still and gets colors more accurate, but risks clipping the highlights. The Nokia N8 exposure still seems technically closest to what it should be. Realistically, the Titan II’s image quality is pretty close to many point-and-shoot dedicated digital cameras I’ve used though, minus the optical zoom.





Above is a 720p video recording sample from the HTC Titan II. It doesn’t support higher resolution 1080p HD video recording, but for most people 720p HD video will be totally acceptable. Video quality and audio seem to be acceptable and the changing exposure levels are very smooth. Macro close up focusing seems to work quite well, too! Unfortunately, even without much wind at all outdoors, there is certainly a lot of wind noise picked up.

BATTERY LIFE

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The HTC Titan II has a hefty 1730mAh battery built in. It’s not removable, but it tends to last for a good day and a half, which is perfectly acceptable especially for LTE enabled devices. Of course, Windows Phone has a nice Battery Saver mode that you can turn on for the times when you really need more battery life.

PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY

The HTC Titan II is available from AT&T for $199 with a new contract.

PROS

+ 16 megapixel camera with a host of options

+ Fastest Windows Phone in terms of benchmarks

+ 4.7-inch Super LCD screen

+ AT&T LTE high speed internet

+ Great battery life (about 1.5 days)

CONS

– Non-replaceable battery

– Low pixel density

– Price is a bit high compared to the Nokia Lumia 900

CONCLUSION

If you’re a huge fan of HTC, large 4.7 inch screens with lower pixel densities, LTE, the Windows Phone operating system, and want bragging rights with a 16 megapixel camera, then the Titan II might be worth the extra money. If it was the same price as the Lumia 900, then the Titan II would be much more competitive. Still the Titan II is a great Windows Phone, but it’s disappointing that HTC will probably not put as much marketing muscle behind it compared to what Nokia is doing with their Lumia 900.

I give the HTC Titan II a 4/5.

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About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002. Read more about Adam Lein!