CES 2012: HTC Titan II Hands-On Preview: A Smartphone of Epic Proportions, Literally

by Reads (15,087)

Windows Phone 7 is finally making the leap to 4G LTE, as HTC announced its Titan II handset yesterday, one of the first WP7 device to feature 4G LTE connectivity. It will be offered exclusively on AT&T at the time of its launch, and will run the most recent version of Microsoft’s mobile OS, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango.

HTC Titan IIPowered by a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S2 processor, the Titan II will have 16 GB of storage (non-expandable, thanks to Microsoft’s restrictions on WP7 models), 512 MB of RAM, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and a killer 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/2.6 28mm wide-angle lens. The quality of this camera was probably my favorite part about the Titan II, as I got to test it for a brief period of time during the Pepcom Digital Experience at CES. Pictures looked sharp, the colors didn’t look oversaturated, and most importantly, there was very minimal grain. The camera that I have on my Windows Phone (the HTC Trophy) has some serious issues with grain and noise, and I was happy to see that this high-quality camera had no such problems.

I was not as crazy about the build of the Titan II, however. Put simply, the Titan II is a fitting name. Much like its predecessor, the Titan II is gigantic for a smartphone, measuring 5.2 x 2.7 x 0.4 inches, due in no small part to its 4.7-inch WVGA (800 x 480) super-LCD display. While the screen size itself is impressive, its quality is not top of the line. It’s certainly not horrible, as it’s a WVGA super LCD display and it’s plenty bright, but after seeing how beautiful super AMOLED displays look on some of these next generation phones, I find it difficult to settle for anything less.

The larger form factor wasn’t terribly comfortable; in fact, its build reminded me a lot of the HTC ThunderBolt. Huge screen (and body), thick, and sporting a rounded bezel, the Titan II was awfully reminiscent of Verizon’s first 4G LTE handset, except it was surprisingly lighter — 5.2 ounces to the ThunderBolt’s 6.23 ounces — despite having generally larger dimensions. But to me, sharing similarities to the build of the ThunderBolt isn’t really a good thing. I have smaller hands, so I never care for it when smartphones start to get on the ridiculously large size like this. When holding the Titan II, I found it somewhat difficult to use one-handed at times, and the lack of any sort of textured or matte finish on the majority of its body made it feel like it could slip out of my hand easily as I struggled to reach the other side of the screen with my thumb.

HTC Titan II BackWhile I’m complaining about design choices, I might as well get a couple of other things out of the way. The volume rocker, which is located on the right side, was inexplicably designed in such a way that it was virtually flush with the side of the phone. It barely protruded at all, which made the buttons difficult to press. I had better luck operating it with my fingernail than with the pad of my thumb. In terms of button choices, though, I did appreciate that the Titan II at least had a dedicated camera button.

And surprisingly — as this is usually a move I see when phone makers are trying to keep a device slim, which the Titan II certainly is not — this handset does not have a removable battery. I pulled off the back panel, which is actually only that small bumpy piece located at the bottom of the device’s back, and saw that it only gave access to a SIM card slot. I wondered if, at the very least, the 1730 mAh battery could provide some respectable (albeit estimated) numbers in terms of battery life, but the HTC rep I spoke to said they have yet to be determined since the Titan II is still in lab testing. She did estimate, however, that its battery life should be roughly in line with the current Titan, as it has a slightly larger battery, but is also a 4G LTE device, which can be a drain.

The Titan II was advertised to come preloaded with AT&T’s U-Verse Mobile software — which lets U-Verse TV plan members schedule DVR recordings and stream select TV content to their phone — as long as they  but it was not actually on the demo device that I was handling, so I was unable to see how it worked. As for the rest of the AT&T-branded apps (Maps, GPS, Music, etc.) that were found on the original Titan, they were not advertised to be on the Titan II, nor were they on the unit I was handling. I asked the rep about them regardless, since preloaded apps like these (and the HTC Hub, which was on the Titan II) are one of the few elements that set different WP7 models apart, thanks to Microsoft’s extremely stringent spec requirements. Unfortunately, though, the rep could not offer any confirmation as to whether any of the other AT&T-branded apps would be on the Titan II, saying only “it’s possible.”

HTC Titan II SideIt became clear that things are still very much in the preliminary stages for the Titan II, as pricing and release dates — in addition to many of the other details I tried to acquire — are not available yet. So it looks like we just need to be patient to find out more about this behemoth of a smartphone, as the HTC rep assured me that the Titan II would be available “in the coming months.”

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