HTC Titan review: HTC Titan

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4 stars 13 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Solid construction; Windows Phone 7.5 brings improvements; screen is great for Web and videos.

The Bad No microSD card slot; screen resolution could be better; No Flash support in browser.

The Bottom Line The HTC Titan is proof that size isn't everything. While the phone's screen is impressive and we're generally pleased with what Microsoft has done with Windows Phone 7.5, it just doesn't feel like the dramatic leap forward the platform badly needs right now.

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The HTC Titan is the first Windows Phone 7.5 handset in the UK, and comes with a gigantic 4.7-inch Super LCD capacitive touchscreen, a single-core 1.5GHz processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

The Titan is available on a monthly contract from around £30 and SIM-free for approximately £400.

Should I buy the HTC Titan?

The HTC Titan lives up to its name, with its imposing 4.7-inch screen requiring an equally imposing frame to encase it. Unless you possess gorilla-sized paws, you're going to need both hands to fully use this device.

Even if the big screen isn't for you, there's much to like here. HTC's handset is running the latest version of Windows Phone, codenamed Mango . It introduces a flood of cool elements, including multi-tasking and the ability to group together your friends and connections. It also boasts a revised edition of Internet Explorer, which is surprisingly accurate when it comes to rendering Web pages.

Despite these improvements, Windows Phone still doesn't feel quite as mature as Android and iOS. We're also at a loss as to why Microsoft continues to insist that hardware developers do not incorporate microSD card slots into their designs. Because of this, the HTC Titan is stuck with 16GB of memory, and this figure cannot be enhanced.

The Titan is surely the best Windows Phone handset to date, but it's not just competing with its own brethren, but also with the likes of the iPhone 4S , BlackBerry Torch 9860 and the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Nexus . Set against that competition, the Titan's stature is diminished somewhat.

Interface

The HTC Titan is one of the first phones on the market to run Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) straight out of the box. On the surface, Mango doesn't seem to differ much from the previous version of Microsoft's mobile OS, but closer inspection uncovers a surfeit of cool new features.

HTC Titan Homescreen
At first glance, Windows Phone 7.5 doesn't look that different from Windows Phone 7.

Multi-tasking has to be the most interesting new element. This has long been a component of Google's Android OS, and even Apple's iPhone has it these days, so it's pleasing to note that the folks at Redmond have now factored it into Windows Phone -- although some critics will argue that it should have been on the table from day one.

HTC Titan Browser
Multi-tasking support has been added in Mango, allowing you to switch apps without having to shut them down.

To open up the multi-tasking menu, all you need do is hold down the 'back' command. A screen showing all of your current tasks is opened, and you can swipe through and flit between applications with a tap of your finger.

Unlike Android -- which keeps applications running even when they're in the background -- Windows Phone 7.5 appears to 'freeze' apps in the same way that Apple's iOS does. While this allows you to move between applications without having to endure the rigmarole of starting them up from scratch, it can cause issues.

For example, we noticed that when we pushed the Windows Phone Twitter client into the background and then restarted it, it had to think for a few seconds before actually loading. In fact, the time taken to load Twitter in multi-tasking was almost equal to the time taken to launch it from a cold start.

We also noticed that some apps and games refused to play ball with the new multi-tasking feature. Some restarted entirely while others refused to 'save' the state of the program. As developers upgrade their apps this will presumably become less of an issue.

HTC Titan User Interface
HTC has attempted to bring its Sense UI to Windows Phone.

Another big advance in Windows Phone 7.5 is the grouping of contacts (or 'People', as Microsoft is fond of calling them). You can place people from your phonebook, email, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts into separate groups, and then perfect group actions -- such as sending an email -- to all of them.

Mango also supports Twitter and Facebook account integration from within the OS itself -- something that Android has been doing for a while. It's actually a lot more convincing in Windows Phone 7.5, unifying all of your social networking feeds in the 'People' tile.

Speaking of tiles, Windows Phone continues to rely on its USP of a vertically-scrolling bank of tiles which constantly update throughout the day with pertinent information.

While you can switch the arrangement of these tiles and even add in new ones, Windows Phone still feels incredibly basic when it comes to customisation. Aside from being able to change the colour scheme, you're pretty much stumped when it comes to introducing your own personal touch.

We can't help but feel that the guys at HTC have been a bit put off by this, as they've tried their hardest to carry over the lush Sense UI from their Android phones. The HTC Hub app shows animated weather reports, stock news and featured apps, while the HTC Watch portal allows you to download movies and trailers.

HTC Titan Controls
Taking inspiration from HTC Sense-powered phones, Windows Phone 7.5 now supports 'smart' functions, such as turning the device over to silence an incoming ringtone.

Aside from these isolated offerings, HTC hasn't been able to stamp its own personality on Mango at all. Although we admit that user customisation isn't always a good thing (some of the user-created Android themes we've seen recently look like modern art gone hideously awry), Windows Phone feels like too much of a swing in the opposite direction.

It's streamlined, intuitive and unquestionably slick, but we can't help but think that users are slowly going to become bored of its totalitarian look and stifling lack of customisation potential.

Screen

It's hardly surprising that the front of the HTC Titan is absolutely dominated by its Super LCD display -- at 4.7-inches, it's the biggest screen we've seen on a Windows Phone yet.

HTC Titan Size and Scale
The Titan's 4.7-inch display looks absolutely huge.

One has to question the wisdom of giving mobile phones these massive displays. Apple seems to think that 3.5 inches is perfectly acceptable for a mobile phone, yet the iPhone 4 looks like a child's plaything when placed alongside the beefy Titan.

This is not a phone you can realistically use with a single hand. Unless you have fingers so large they'd have made the late Andre the Giant jealous, there's no way you can comfortably reach the top corners of the display with your thumb.You'll need to quickly become accustomed to cradling the handset in one hand while prodding with the other.

HTC Titan Super LCD
Super LCD does a good job, but doesn't quite compare to Super AMOLED Plus.

Although the Super LCD tech lacks the punch of Super AMOLED Plus, the images generated by this gargantuan panel are impressive. Colours are bold and well-defined, while blacks and dark tones have a believable depth to them.

When you consider that the Dell Streak has a screen size of five inches, it's tempting to suggest that the HTC Titan is stepping dangerously close to tablet territory. Sadly, the screen is let down by its resolution, which is locked at 480x800 pixels -- the same as last year's Google Nexus One .

Because of the inflated screen size, the lack of pixels is painfully noticeable. Small text and highly detailed websites show up jagged edges, and it begs the question: why equip a phone with such a massive screen if it shows up the limitations of its resolution?

HTC Titan resolution
The Titan's screen may be massive, but the resolution of 480x800 pixels is a disappointment.

We're tempted to lay the blame at HTC's feet, but the manufacturer's hands were tied on this occasion. Windows Phone does not currently offer support for resolutions higher than 480x800 pixels.

Design

If we were to use one word to sum up the design of the HTC Titan, it would be 'stark'. When the screen is idle, it looks like a monolithic slab of metal. It's not a head-turner in the same way as the lush Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, but it has its own intrinsic appeal nonetheless.

HTC Titan Case Remove
Like the HTC Sensation, the Titan features a two-part case construction.

Physical inputs on the HTC Titan are kept to a bare minimum. The only buttons on the phone are the power key, volume rocker and camera button. The three Windows Phone commands found on the front of the device are backlit touch-sensitive controls.

HTC Titan Touch buttons
There are no physical buttons on the front of the Titan -- they're touch-sensitive controls instead.

While we're big fans of this minimalist ethos, it's annoying that you can only wake up the phone by pressing the power button -- which is often hard to comfortably reach due the immense dimensions of the handset.

Like the HTC Sensation , the Titan sports a unique case construction. The main body of the device actually sits inside a metal uni-body shell, and this has to be unshackled whenever you need to remove your SIM card or change your battery.

HTC Titan Back View
The rear of the phone has a rubberised area at the bottom which aids grip.

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Where to Buy

HTC Titan

Part Number: CNETHTC Titan

Typical Price: £400.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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