• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

If size is important to you, then you’ll be impressed by the aptly named HTC Titan – a huge 4.7-inch beast of a phone that is one of the first devices to be released with the new Windows Phone 7.5 OS (also known as the Mango update). To look at it is reminiscent of the pretty size-able HTC HD7, with its solid glass front, metallic unibody and slim yet solid chassis. It has all the makings of a superphone, but will it be let down by the lack of apps to be found at Windows Marketplace?

First impressions

The Titan manages to appear both stylish and sturdy, although it only measures 9.9mm (that’s the same as an iPhone 4, by the way). Set in the aluminium chassis is an eight-megapixel snapper, which sticks out a little at the back, along with a dual LED flash.

There’s a front-facing snapper too, so that you can make video calls or take self-portraits should you wish. Be aware that Skype is not available on Windows Phone, so you’ll have to use the not-so-global Tango (and so will your friends). Skype is supposed to be available this autumn, but no dates have been announced as yet.

Size is relative – we found the Dell Streak (which doesn't really know if it’s a tablet or a phone) rather large at 5 inches, but the Titan still manages to fit in a pocket, and can be held in one hand when navigating. But for anyone used to an iPhone 4 or similar sized device, it will seem pretty huge. However, the benefits of the larger body include a keyboard that offers a truly comfortable typing experience, and a screen that is just made for viewing video, especially as it is one of the better S-LCD screens.

It’s a good looking screen, thanks to the 199ppi resolution, even though it’s not quite up there with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S II, the iPhone 4 or the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc. The front of the device is pretty much all covered by Gorilla Glass and you’ll find a trio of touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom – Search, Back and Home. The Search button is for web searching, for instance to find apps in Marketplace or for finding friends in the People tab.

The whole thing is run on a 1.5GHz single-core processor (iPhones and Android handset tend to sport a dual-core 1Ghz processor under the hood). Plus, it has only 512MB RAM, which is about 50 per cent of what you’ll find on other high-end smartphones. It doesn’t seem to affect running speed though, although it tends to shut down apps if you exit, rather than keeping them open as Android handsets and iPhones do.

Navigation

If you’ve used a Windows Phone, you’ll find it easy to find your way about, even though there are about 500 new features on Mango. The interfaced is tile-based, which makes a nice change from the icon-based OS of both Android and iPhone handsets. They update live with real-time information, so, for instance, the Calendar updates with your latest appointments, while Messages show how many texts and social events you have unopened.

There are some nice animations to enjoy, which makes the OS feel really up to date. We like the way the Pictures hub scrolls through your images, and emails fly upwards. It does drain a bit of juice though, although saying that we were pretty impressed with battery life.

Unlike Android phones, you have only two homescreens – one lists all the apps you have on your handset, the other is a kind of start menu, where you pop your favourite apps. You can’t organise your apps into folders, instead they are integrated in other ways – for example Twitter and Facebook can be found in the phonebook.

WP7.5 looks good – and likes to boast about what it can do, rather than maintaining the streamlined look of Apple’s OS. Hold down the back button and you’ll see a multitasking view that allows you to swipe through a line of open programs.

You can sync email such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail with your device – in fact we were really impressed with the Google experience on offer – second only to that on Android devices. And we particularly like the ‘Me’ tile, which shows your social network activity. Mango now offers LinkedIn and Twitter integration, so if you click on the People tile you can see an aggregated contact card for each of your friends, showing their latest activity.

The only pity is that WP7.5 seems to have forgotten about the device’s primary function – actually making a call – which is not a quick and simple process but instead requires you to click on the Phone tile and then do a text search for your desired number.

Communication

Oddly, this update doesn't seem to have resolved some of the issues that were apparent in WP7 (aside from copy and paste, more on that in a moment), although it has improved the general communication functions. You can now separate your contacts into custom groups and then send mass emails, texts and Facebook messages to a whole group. A nice touch, but not necessarily the most vital feature to be adding – the text and email apps will auto-fill addresses anyway.

Another feature we don’t think is particularly useful is that all text, Windows Live and Facebook messages are threaded. For one thing, conversations that you have on different platforms may not necessarily belong together, and if a contact is typing away on Facebook your phone alerts go off like a mad thing. Also if the message is pretty long, it won’t all load on the Messages app, and instead you have to click on a weblink.

You’ll find any LinkedIn or Twitter contacts and messages are now in the People hub – this means you can post your messages to them straight from the hub, rather than having to open a separate app.

While the missing copy and paste has now been introduced, it is not a particularly intuitive feature. Selecting your desired text is particularly tough in the browser. That browser by the way is now Internet Explorer 9 with hardware acceleration, so while it’s fast it just doesn't offer the features that Safari does. For instance, if you type in numbers, you’ll find the dialler doesn’t automatically open – you also can’t copy and paste phone numbers into the number pad. But on the plus side, you can dial numbers contained in emails.

We tried out Local Scout, which is an app that aims to show the nearest shops, POI and restaurants to your GPS location. But it came up with locations nowhere near us – it has to be said that Bing is still the very poor relation of Google Maps – it doesn’t even offer walking directions.

Downloading apps

Apps are the driving force of the smartphone, and this is where the Titan falls down, as it relies on the 32,000 apps available in Windows Marketplace. Sure, it is an improvement on the 11,000 or so on offer from BlackBerry users but when you consider that iPhone and Android handsets have access to more than 400,000 it pales into insignificance. Of course, you’ll find the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but there’s no Google Maps, Addison Lee or Spotify to name but a few. Plus there’s not much in the way of free apps and prices are generally higher than those for iPhone and Android apps.

Snapper

One of the surprising points about the Titan is that it has a great eight-megapixel snapper. It’s definitely the best we’ve seen on an HTC device. The dual LED flash is excellent, and doesn't overexpose images. In decent light, images proved clear with good colours. You can choose to use the dedicated shutter key, or use touch focus, and should you wish to take video (at 720p), you’ll see it offers great definition in most conditions. The only glitch is that the mic tends to pick up a lot of background noise.

Get off of my cloud

The cloud is all-important these days, and Windows Phone offers 25Gb of storage on SkyDrive. Photos can be automatically uploaded from the handset’s camera as soon as you take them, and you can also save documents from MS Office, so that you can access them wherever you are.

If you want to move video and music from your PC to handset, you’ll have to download the Zune software (which is Microsoft’s answer to iTunes). Note that at the moment you are only able to download music in the UK. The video player does not offer support for DivX, which annoyingly is the format used for a lot of online video, nor is there a DivX player for Windows Phone as yet. What you do get, though, is HTC Watch, an HD movie-streaming and download service, which should do away with the need for DivX. But it is a paid-for facility.

Our conclusion

While there is no denying that the HTC Titan is a great example of a Windows superphone, we can’t help thinking that you could get the HTC Sensation XL, which offers the same kind of specs as well as all the benefits of Android. While we really rate Windows Phone 7 and are impressed with the improvements made by the Mango update, the browser, apps issue and maps are something of a letdown. Social networking and email are great, and the camera is surprisingly good, but the lack of apps will be a deal-breaker for many.

Specifications

Specifications

Type of phone:

Smartphone

Style:

N/A

Size:

131.5x70.7x9.9mm

Weight:

160g

Display:

16 million colours

Resolution:

480x800

Camera:

Eight megapixels

Special Camera features:

LED flash, auto focus

Video recording:

Yes

Video playback:

Yes

Video calling:

Yes

Video streaming:

Yes

Music formats played:

WMA, WAV, MP3, eAAC+

3.5mm jack port:

Yes

Handsfree speakerphone:

Yes

Voice Control:

Yes

Voice Dialling:

Yes

Call records:

Practically unlimited

Phonebook:

N/A

Ringtones customization:

N/A

Display description:

S-LCD capacitive

Website:

www.htc.com

SAR:

N/A

Portfolio:

N/A

Standard color:

Black

Launch Status:

Available

Radio:

Yes

Operating system:

Windows Mobile

Connectivity:

Bluetooth, MicroUSB, Wi-Fi, A2DP

Announced date:

August 2011

What's in the Box:

N/A

RAM:

512MB

International launch date:

October 2011

Battery life when playing multimedia:

N/A

CPU:

1.5GHz

FM Radio Description:

Stereo FM with RDS

Internal memory:

16GB

Memory Card Slot:

N/A

Messaging:

IM, SMS, MMS, Email

Internet Browser:

HTML

E-mail client:

Push email, Attachments, SMTP, POP3, IMAP4

GPS:

A-GPS

Java:

Yes

Games:

Yes

Data speed:

EDGE, HSDPA, GPRS, 3G

Frequency:

Quad-band

Talktime:

410 mins

Standby:

460 hours

Display size:

4.7 inches

Keypad:

N/A

Audio recording:

Yes

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