HTC Titan 4G Review
Thanks to HTC Australia for providing us with the HTC Titan 4G
The HTC Titan 4G is the first 4G Windows Phone to hit the market, and it is only the 3rd 4G phone to hit the Australian markets. The Titan 4G is actually the exact same phone as the HTC Titan II, that was released in the United States earlier this year, and Australia seem to be the only country to have got this model outside of the US. That already places a lot of expectation upon it, as 4G phones are a relatively new technology for Australians. Similarly, it is only available on Telstra’s network (considering they are the only ones with a 4G network as of now). Following that up, the Titan 4G comes preloaded with a mammoth 16 megapixel camera on it’s back – something which has placed an even higher amount of expectations on the latest Windows Phone from HTC. It’s not a small phone, and it’s not a cheap phone, but the real question is does this phone live up to our expectations, or does it fall short?
Well there’s only one way to find out – by reading our HTC Titan 4G review.
The HTC Titan 4G has a lot going for it in the hardware department. Starting off, it’s the biggest Windows Phone in existence with a large 4.7-inch screen so there’s an easy option for those who hate small phones. But similarly it’s also a phone that feels too large in the hands and though I have big hands, I never truly did feel comfortable using this device unlike other 4.7/4.8-inch phones. Why, you might be asking yourself? Well because of two things – The first being that it is a rather heavy phone, weighing in at 147 grams which is far heavier than we have come to expect for modern day smartphones. Yes it’s lighter than the original Titan, but groundbreaking phones like the HTC One X prove that HTC have the technology to cram a lot of tech into a small frame, which is not the case here. The second reason would be the thickness of this phone – it tops out at 13mm, though not all the way. That may be in part to that 4G chip inside the phone, and that massive 16 megapixel camera sensor taking up most of the bulk. The camera actually pretudes out from the back, giving it a weird body shape, especially when the bottom of the phone curves up, much like the original HTC Legend. That’s the one thing we absolutely loved about the design of this phone, the curve at the bottom. It made the phone easier to hold, and pressing on the curved edge (where the capacitive touch buttons sit) felt very nice. I often felt myself sliding my fingers up and down the curve. Overall thought, the heft uneven bulk made it kind of uncomfortable to hold.
It also feels solidly built, which is where the bulk and weight comes in. The back has a soft touch metallic finish which feels nice, and that joins in with the back cover, which is a tiny little removable slot which sort of look like speaker grills (but they’re not). It’s not the most beautiful phone in the world, especially when compared to the Lumia 900 but it’s not exactly ugly either. It just borders in the middle, making is very easy to pass off as a proper business phone.
Specs wise, the Titan 4G wouldn’t exactly win against an Android device on paper but as we’ve said before – Windows Phones do not need a dual core processor to function properly. The phone is powered by a single-core 1.5GHz processor, with 512MB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage make up the internals of the phone. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a 16 megapixel camera on the back with dual flash LED’s, and a front facing camera as well. The screen is made up of an 4.7-inch Super LCD 1 screen, which takes up most of the front.
A solid phone with solid specs, and a decently build phone. If we had any complains is that the volume controls being on the right hand side of the phone made it too easy to press, and not in a good way. Often while shifting the phone in our hands, we found ourselves easily pressing the volume button on a number of occasions (a problem we gather would only affect right handed people). This was rather annoying to a point, where every time I shifted the phone I did it with both hands as to avoid pressing the volume button at all.
Now the Titan 4G’s display is a difficult one to talk about – namely because we can’t really find too much good to talk about it. Let’s put it this way, with a 720p screen – 4.7-inches is fantastic to use. But with Windows Phone 7 having a max resolution of 800 x 480, suddenly 4.7-inches becomes a pretty poor option. To put that in numbers, this phone as a PPI of 199, far below the iPhone 4S with a PPI of 330. The cherry on top is that HTC decided to give thsi device a Super LCD 1 display, unlike the newer HTC phones which have Super LCD 2 screens which are fantastic and might even be great to use with 800 x 480 resolution devices. But alas, HTC probably won’t do that in a Windows Phone device till Windows Phone 8 hit’s the market.
However, it is not all bad on the device which is surprisingly bright and crisp on the home screen tiles. Black levels aren’t as deep as AMOLED displays, but they are decent in that you won’t notice too much LCD backlight bleeding. Watching HD videos are actually decent to watch on on this screen, but once you get a normal non-HD video then you’re going to be in for a whole world of pain, for your eyes that is. Colours seem fairly natural on this device, though dull when compared to the Lumia 900’s AMOLED CBD display. Take a look below: (Titan 4G vs Galaxy S3 vs Lumia 900)
What we feel HTC should have done was reduced the screen size just a little, in order to make up for the loss of resolution. In our opinion, 4.3-inches is the most anyone should go with a 800 x 480 resolution, and anything in excess is rather wasteful. Still, we suppose it’s nice to have the option of such a large screen.
Obviously the biggest draw to this phone, even more so than the 4G connectivity is the large 16 megapixel camera that HTC have put into this phone, making it the the most megapixel crammed phone on the planet for now. It had a lot of potential, and it even promised to be a stunner for the Windows Phone range. Unfortunately what transpired wasn’t quite what we expected, as we weren’t exactly blown away by the images. Don’t get us wrong though, in the right light and conditions, the HTC Titan 4G took some amazing photos in the right light and conditions, but we were quite disappointed by low light shots. The first thing we noticed about the sensor is that it refused to take pictures with the flash unless the conditions were very dark. This led to some rather low light shots without flash, resulting in a noisy picture. This isn’t necessarily a HTC issue, but perhaps the issue when integrated with the Windows Phone platform.
Another issue we came across with the camera was the fact the camera shutter button was rather under sensitive. Basically, when you wanted to take a picture you had to press the camera shutter button fairly hard in order to get a snap off, which in turn resulted in a shaky unfocussed picture! Of course, the simple work around is to simply tap the screen, but it’s surprising how sensitive the camera was to even the slightest movement (even with image stabalizer turned on!). One thing we can say is that the Macro mode (close up shots) are absolutely fantastic! We could really focus well in some Macro shots, which can really come in handy for those of you that dabble in Macro.
Nevertheless, take a look at some of the photos we took of the last two weeks we’ve had the phone:
So as you can see, while the Macro is fantastic, I do take issue with the fact that the camera takes pictures that are slightly dull in lighting. For instance, pictures don’t look as bright and vibrant as they would on a normal Point and Shoot camera. Other smartphones can achieve this brightness, but the Titan 4G falls short here. Still, the there is plenty of detail in the camera shots and you can easily make out what is what, but it does seem to tone the vibrancy down a little which is odd.
And of course, we have our standard picture shoot out comparison here. On the top row we have the HTC Titan 4G and we thought it was only fair to compare it to the Lumia 900 (bottom row). In order – Strong Light, Medium Light, Low Light.
We would say that the Titan 4G beats the Lumia 900 in the Strong and Low light photos, but the Medium Light photo on the Lumia 900 looks phenomenal. Overall though, the Lumia 900 isn’t quite the power performer as the Titan 4G, as was expected with a larger sensor and better camera.
Anyone who has ever used a Windows Phone before knows the performance is top notch, even with a Single core processor. We all know this, so it not surprising when we didn’t really see any lag on this device (except for maybe on the keyboard while typing). Performance was generally top notch and the 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor ensued that everything was smooth and snappy, especially over gen 1 Windows Phone devices.
Another point to take in here was the 4G implementation in this device, and we’re sure you’ll all curious about the speeds we got. While we don’t have any screenshots per se, we can say that within the 4G areas of Melbourne, we managed to clock up 24mb/s in the speedtest download speed. While this may seem good, it is certainly lacking behind the Android 4G devices in Australia which can top 40mb/s on a good day. Our HTC Titan 4G averaged around 20mb/s in 4G areas, and while it may seem low compared to Android 4G devices we can certainly say that we were still impressed with browsing speeds and other online activities. Outside of 4G phones, the Titan 4G runs on HSPA+ which carries a theoretical top speed of 22mb/s, though in our area we only ever topped out at 13mb/s.
Within non 4G areas, we would say the Titan 4G was slightly slower than the Lumia 900 on the same carrier. Though thanks to it’s better reception intake quality, it would easily outdo the Samsung Galaxy S3 in low reception areas. But come into 4G areas, there’s no doubt that it is the fastest data Windows Phone on the planet and that makes it quite the draw for those looking for a fast Windows Phones.
Software wise, you’re getting the same gorgeous Windows Phone experience that we’ve fallen in love with time and time again. Live tiles and a responsive OS works wonders for the phone and we enjoyed the general experience of the phone. Compared to Nokia Windows Phones, HTC doesn’t have the best exclusive apps lineup, but of the ones they do have are surprisingly well made and useful. Everyday apps such as torch light, a conversion app, HTC Watch for Videos, Photo Enhancer for improving the image and adding affects to it – they’re all very useful and well made.
For those not used to Windows Phones, then you’ve got Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn integration, Xbox LIVE games, Microsoft Office, and ZUNE to really help you get through any situation. Adding to that the 4G performance and a 16 megapixel camera and you’ve got a solid software package in your hands.
We don’t want to dwell too much into this because we’ve talked enough Windows Phones, so you can just read our other Windows Phone experience articles.
Battery Life outside of 4G areas was rather decent, with charges needed every night with usage. The battery could even last a little longer than with minimal usage, meaning that big 1,730mAh battery did it’s job well. However, once we entered a 4G area and the phone picked up on 4G then the battery life drained itself shockingly quick, especially when using it. Of course, HTC does give you the option to turn off 4G and only use 3G in the settings but we don’t see the point of getting a 4G phone if you’re only going to be using it for 3G, resulting in a rather obvious oxymoron.
Within 4G areas, which is most of the CBD in Melbourne, while using my device I managed to drain 60% of the battery in just a few hours on low brightness settings. This was shocking, meaning I would have only got 5 hours of battery life tops within the 4G region. Thankfully for me, I was actually outside of that region so my Titan 4G managed to last the entire day without needing a charge, something I was quite pleased with. I’d hate to think what would happen if you were using 4G on max brightness settings!
At the end of the day, you can obviously turn of your 4G if you want to conserve your battery, but it’s disappointing you have to do this – but Android phones are no different in this regard. 4G is still a battery killer, and nothing has changed in that department.