HTC Titan was among the first smartphones with Windows Phone 7.5 aka Mango operative system and has been on the market for a couple of months now. You can find it priced at about €467. As the price suggest, the Titan is high-end device, actually one of the best phones you can get with Windows Phone Mango.
With the largest screen of any Windows Phone currently on the market, the HTC Titan lets you work big and play big. Display diagonal measures 4.7'', while the device itself measures 131.5mm x 71mm x 9.9mm. All in all, you can clearly see, and feel, that the Titan is a quality piece of gear.
Of course, bigger displays offer better multimedia experience, give a better view of websites, enhance work efficiency, etc., so it’s quite understandable to see phones growing in size. However, the Titan is not the largest phone around, that would be the Samsung Note. However the Note is somewhat of a mixture of a phone and a tablet, meaning it’s too big to hold and work on with only one hand (picture below). While the Titan dwarfs classic phones, you’ll have no problems with it if you have bigger hands – otherwise, some things will be much easier when using both hands.
The Titan’s design is clean and stylish.
Although the Titan’s display is big, once we had it running we noticed the same amount of Metro tiles on the start screen as on our recently tested Radar phone. The reason is that both phones feature identical resolution of 800x480, despite the Titan’s display being bigger.
What’s great about the tiles is that their content can be dynamically refreshed, depending on what the tile is showing. If, for instance, a tile shows the weather, then it will refresh and update the information as needed. It’s simply a shame that the Titan won’t display more of these tiles on the start screen.
The Titan has a better display that handles colors much better. The text is crisp, colors are vivid and viewing angles are good. Brightness and color rendition remains consistent even from extreme angles. There is some reflection on the screen but it does just fine outside. The display is very dust and grime resistant, i.e. if there is some on the screen you’ll barely notice it.
One of the features Mango is big on are hubs. Hub is practically more than just a collection of apps. The picture below shows the music + video hub tile. Only a part of the hub can be displayed on the screen. Only after sliding the window horizontally all the hub sections will be accessible. You can learn more about hubs here.
Multitasking and performance
As far as CPUs go, all WP 7.5 based devices will have single core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and DirectX hardware with hardware acceleration for Direct3D. Microsoft dropped support for dual-core CPUs as it claims that the performance gain is not as high to justify shorter battery life.
The Titan runs on Qualcomm's MSM8255 CPU at 1.5GHz with Adreno 205 GPU. It has 512MB of working memory whereas 12GB, out of 16GB of internal memory, is available to users. The phone supports various types of connection including GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA/WLAN/Bluetooth.
That no OS is perfect was clear from the fact that the phone once froze on us and had to be restarted. However, note that it happened only once in two months of using it.
Anyone who’s ever worked a smartphone knows that multitasking is an important feature and Mango supports it. You can pull up the current list of active apps on a tile if you push the Back key a bit longer. Switching to and from apps did not cause any visible stutters or lag. Naturally, you can’t run a hundred apps and expect everything to work. This is why Microsoft allows only five apps at the same time, in order not to burden the battery, CPU or memory. Starting a sixth app will cause the oldest app to shut down.
Users can start more apps at the same time but note that this is not real multitasking, i.e. the kind you find on desktops. Namely, Mango doesn’t continue running the app in the background but hibernates it. We don’t mind any solution that returns us to the place we’ve left from, but many apps aren’t programmed for multi-tasking and will return you to start screen or beginning of a level.
In fact, only rare games such as Let’s Golf 2 are programmed for multitasking. Switching from and to this game worked flawlessly although Angry Birds and Need For Speed Undercover reset back to the start screen.
Multitasking puts apps to a test because not only do they have to retain their current status, they need to check for conflict with other apps. Namely, it’s possible to play music and surf the internet but if a game does not detect the player in the background, you’ll hear two audio feeds simultaneously. Let’s Golf 2 again worked flawlessly and asked whether we want to continue listening to music while playing.
Window Phone Marketplace
Windows Phone Marketplace is similar to Android’s Market, although the latter boasts a richer offer. WP Marketplace will let you find many games that you may have played on Android phones. However, you should be aware that Windows Phone entertainment will cost more. Namely, Angry Birds goes for $2.99.
There are of course some free games as well. Also, don’t think our screenshots above and below show all the games, because there’s really more than enough of them to change them daily.
The app that will help you with unlocking is called Chevronwp7, and these guys made a first user-friendly unlocking app that allows for unlocking the phone without any previous knowledge or experience in unlocking and programming. You can also find many other XAP files, i.e. apps, made by other users. After installing ChevronLabs.Unlock.exe, you’ll need a token that must be ordered. The token costs €9, but opens up a wealth of possibilities. Of course, nobody can guarantee that there aren’t any malicious programmers so watch what you’re installing.
Jailbreak for Windows Phone 7.5 Mango?
The Marketplace offers only apps by certified Microsoft developers. Android’s Market on the other hand allows anyone to program apps, which is why it has a richer offer as well. Thankfully, there is always a solution and there is a possibility of developing and deploying your own apps to the device as a XAP file.
The app that will help you with unlocking is called Chevronwp7, and these guys made a first user-friendly unlocking app that allows for unlocking the phone without any previous knowledge or experience in unlocking and programming. You can also find many other XAP files, i.e. apps, made by other users.
After installing ChevronLabs.Unlock.exe, you’ll need a token that must be ordered. The token costs €9, but opens up a wealth of possibilities. Of course, nobody can guarantee that there aren’t any malicious programmers so watch what you’re installing.
You’ll also need Windows Phone Developer Tools and Zune app. We won’t go into details on how we unlocked the phone, as you can find the instructions on the web. However, we will confirm that we had our first XAP file deployed on the phone quite fast. We installed Screen Capturer v3 app, which as the name suggests makes screenshots. On the picture below is a screenshot of the Titan’s screen.
You may recall that Microsoft acquired Skype back in May. Once the vendor and hardware limitations for Skype are gone, the app could be ready to be part of the system rather than an app for WP. When we say ‘could be ready’, we mean it since Skype cannot be installed on WP 7.5.
We wanted to try out Tango, which we found in HTC’s hub. Tango allows for free phone and video calls via the web. During the conversation, HTC’s Titan allowed for recording on both cameras. Of course, a stutter free video conversation will require a fast internet connection.
The Titan’s front camera ran well, except in bad lighting conditions. Still it was much better than the Radar’s front camera.
Windows Phone - HTC Titan
The Titan is a well made device, and you can feel it the moment you hold it. It’s quite important that the back of the phone is tough and scratch resistant, and the Titan did really well in this respect. The back of the phone is made of 80% aluminum and we had no scratches after using the phone for two months.
We initially thought that the part with Windows Phone writing on it is separate from the upper part. However, when we tried to open it, we realized it’s all a single surface.
Unlike HTC Radar, which only allows for removing the SIM card and not the battery, the Titan will allow you to replace the battery. However, just like the Radar, the Titan cannot be upgraded with more memory via SD cards. Users get 12GB of memory and that’s that.
The rear cover is removed with a push of a button on the bottom of the phone.
On the bottom of the screen are three software keys, which can be found on every Windows Phone Mango phone since they’re Microsoft’s standard. The search button with a magnifier icon opens up Bing search engine. This key is exclusively for Bing, which is why other searches are done via an additional magnifier icon that opens up once you open the apps or menu.
The Titan’s rear camera does not stick out much, so the possibility of scratching the glass is reduced. The camera has 8MP resolution but we’ve seen cameras with better optics in the Titan’s price range. Next to the rear camera are LED flash and speaker holes. The mic is on the bottom of the phone.
The phone has lighting and distance sensors on the front, hidden in the black strip left of the HTC sign. A VGA camera sits top right and its 1.3MP resolution will be sufficient for video conversation. The lighting sensor constantly runs and once there’s not enough light to see the software keys on the bottom, the system will turn on background lighting underneath them. As long as you’re holding the phone to your ear and talking, the screen will remain off saving the battery in the process. Truth be told, these sensors prevented us from ending a call on few occasions because as soon as we moved our hand close to the phone, the screen would turn off. Call and end call buttons are displayed in the top left part of the screen, just next to the sensors. When holding the Titan with right hand, we had issues reaching these buttons with a single hand. When we held it with our left hand, the keys were underneath our left thumb.
Hardware buttons are on the sides (Windows Phone Mango standard) and, much like those on HTC’s other devices, they feel good and are almost invisible.
Top part of the phone holds the On/Off key and 3.5mm connector. On the right is the volume key and camera key, which can run the camera even when the phone is locked – quite handy for quick photos.
Curved, smooth edges are typical of HTC but the Titan somewhat stepped away from such design. The front edges, especially around the screen, are sharp, a bit elevated and can be felt under your fingers. On the other hand, it comes in handy on occasions as it prevents slipping.
You can find a mini USB connector on the left and you’ll use it for charging, updates, syncing or backup via Zune.
HTC’s Radar has no gyro or compass, but the Titan does. Accelerometer is part of the both phones, of course. Gyro and compass used to be considered mandatory in Windows Phone 7, which is not the case anymore. This means that we won’t be seeing these two, truth be told quite handy features, in more affordable phones. The Windows Phone 7.5 standard allows for making a phone without a camera, whereas earlier the standard demanded a minimum 5MP camera on the back and a VGA one on the front.
Standard usage, which includes a few hours of surfing the net, can last a day or day and a half on a single charge. Internet sharing will eat the battery up in only few hours but having a laptop nearby means that you can charge it at the same time.
HTC Titan has two cameras. The one on the back has an F/2.2 lens and 8 megapixel resolution with backside-illuminated sensor for better photos in poor lighting conditions. The back camera will do really well during daytime, but it is not good at night. Naturally, that’s where the strong flash comes in.
The camera on/off key is always active, even when the phone is locked. The Titan has a few additional options, such as panorama and burst photos (up to 5 in a row).
Image quality depends a lot on the good ambient light.
The colors seem a bit washed out but are better than on Radar. Contrast could be better as well. Detail is better than average.
The Titan is one of HTC’s first smartphones with Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” OS. We’re talking about high end smartphone that offers many advanced features. HTC’s Titan sports a big screen which allowed for a good Mango experience, and overal good user experience. Both the Titan and Radar share the same Qualcomm MSM8255 CPU with Adreno 205 GPU, although Titan runs at 1.5GHz while Radar runs at 1GHz. Unless you start some testing, you won’t see a noticeable difference in everyday work.
HTC’s Titan is one of the largest phones around so you should be aware that it won’t provide comfortable handling for those with smaller hands. However, that did not take away from the Titan’s design as it is only 9.9mm thick and will not slide from your hands easy due to flat and sharp edges. Once you stop fearing that you may drop it, you’ll be freely carrying it around in one hand only.
Most users will be impressed by Titan’s large screen and although it has a resolution of only 800x480 pixels, it didn’t detract much from the overall experience of using this phone. True, it’s not a Super AMOLED unit with high pixel density, but it should do just fine for most users.
Viewing images and playing videos was definitely good, but we expected a better camera at this price point. Furthermore, the Titan only offers a bit over 12GB to its users, which may not sit well with some.
All in all, the Titan is a solid and a quality device. We found the large screen comfortable enough to start favoring the Titan over our laptop. We won’t comment on Windows Phone 7.5 - sufficient to say that unless you like it, the Titan won’t help much. If you’re looking for a phone that’s definitely above average then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check out HTC’s Titan, which currently goes for about €470.