Though not much of a surprise, HTC fans were among the first to get a look at the company's new Windows Phone Mango handsets today. The HTC Titan and the HTC Radar were introduced at meetups held in England, France, Spain, and Germany, with both smartphones expected to be available in Europe in October. Pricing, as well as U.S. availability, were not announced at this time.
The HTC Titan is the higher-end model of the two and features a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 16GB of internal memory, and a large 4.7-inch WVGA (800x480 pixels) touch screen. The design is quite reminiscent of the HTC HD7, but HTC ups the ante with an 8-megapixel camera and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera.
Support for front-facing cameras and video calling is a new feature of Windows Phone 7.5, and an earlier report also mentioned Skype integration. However, HTC told CNET it did not have any information on that at this time and said the phone would come preloaded with the Tango video chat app. Also new is a tool in the main camera app that helps you take better panoramic photos. A line now appears across the screen, so you can better line up your shot and produce a more seamless panoramic shot.
The quad-band GSM Titan also has 3G support (14.4Mbps), Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), 5.1 surround-sound for video, 720p HD video capture, 512MB RAM, and comes with a 1,630mAh lithium ion battery.
Meanwhile, the Radar is more of a midtier device, with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 3.8-inch WVGA touch screen, and 8GB of internal storage. The smartphone also has a front-facing camera, though just VGA in resolution, and a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera with an F2.2 lens, LED flash, BSI sensor, and 720p HD video capture.
Though software and hardware customization is restricted by Microsoft, HTC has made some enhancements to its HTC Hub and proprietary apps for Windows Phone 7.5. The Hub now has a more in-depth carousel that includes a stocks and news feed. The Notes app boasts a sleeker look, and the phones now include the company's HTC Watch video service.
HTC actually stopped by CNET's offices last week to give us an sneak peek at both the HTC Titan and HTC Radar. Though the handsets weren't running final software, we had a chance to go hands-on with the hardware, and as one would expect from HTC, they were top-notch. The HTC Radar has a sleek, aluminum unibody design that feels great in the hand and looks good to boot, with its silver-and-white chassis.
Compared with today's current crop of smartphones with 4-inch screens or higher, the Radar's 3.8-inch display feels a bit small but appropriate for its class of device. We didn't really get to put the Radar through any tests, but the phone felt relatively fast, as we launched different apps and cruised through the menus.
The HTC Titan felt a little like deja vu. The 4.7-inch touch screen certainly provides plenty of space for viewing Web pages, videos, and typing messages. The company also did a nice job of keeping the handset from feeling too clunky. It's certainly a handful at 5.2 inches tall and 2.2 inches wide, but it's only 0.39 inch thick, so that helps the phone be more manageable.
That said, we were a little disappointed to see that there wasn't a bump in screen resolution, and the design isn't all that different from the HD7. It would be nice to see some more variation or completely new designs going forward. The software enhancements are nice, though. The HTC Hub and Notes app look very polished, and the panorama tool in the camera app is really quite brilliant. We also did a bit of snooping around and found the Internet-sharing utility in the Settings menu, so it looks like mobile hot-spot capabilities are on their way.
Overall, the HTC Titan and HTC Radar look like solid Windows Phone handsets, but they're going to face some stiff competition--both from the Android and iPhone camp, as well as other Windows Phone models that will include more-advanced features like dual-core processors, 4G support, and high-resolution screens. Sure, there's always a need for a broad range of devices and if priced right, the Titan and Radar could be a hit among new users, but we suspect current smartphone users will be looking for more. What do you guys think?