Everything there is to say about Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) — the OS that the HTC Titan II runs — has already been said in our previous reviews, but rest assured that it’s a comfortable user experience, at least to this reviewer. I’m well aware of the fact that it’s not for everybody, especially given the animosity toward the Metro UI, but it’s efficient (especially with battery usage), fast, and easy to navigate.
Under the hood, the Titan II packs a powerful 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, but unfortunately Microsoft’s OS does not currently support multi-core chips, so it’s only a single-core processor. Nevertheless, it’s more than enough to power the device capably, and I tested out a number of graphics-intensive games without ever encountering any stuttering or hiccups. The only minor issue was that the back of the device would get a little warm during some of the more intense processes, though it was nothing too serious.
It’s a drastic improvement over last generation’s WP7 devices, including my personal HTC Trophy, which runs on a 1 GHz single-core processor. For instance, simple tasks like pulling up my Xbox Live page on my Trophy can result in some seriously sluggish framerates when my avatar begins performing animations, but no such lag occurred on the Titan II. The disparity between the processing power of the two devices was quite apparent.
And as for AT&T’s 4G LTE network, I was perfectly content with its speeds, even if I didn’t get to enjoy things like Flash video, which is unsupported on Windows Phone. Service was reliable, even if I did notice a dip in the number of bars I had in certain areas (where I would have the maximum number of bars on my Verizon handset).
The apps on the Titan II are standard fare for a Windows Phone, with AT&T and HTC both pitching in their respective contributions. Like with the rest of its WP7 handsets, AT&T preloads its Code Scanner, myWireless (provides details about your wireless account), Navigator, Radio, Maps, U-Verse Mobile apps. HTC, meanwhile, provides its HTC Hub, which is nothing more than a glorified weather/stock/news app with links to other free apps in the Marketplace.
But as is always the case with Windows Phones, the operating system has baked-in software for both productivity and entertainment. Easy syncing to Outlook/Microsoft Exchange accounts is great for work, as is the inclusion of the Microsoft Office suite (featuring Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote, as well as a handful of cloud/syncing options like Sharepoint or SkyDrive). The phone also comes preloaded with Tango for making video calls with the phone’s front-facing, 1.3-megapixel camera.
Of course, there is also integration with Xbox Live and Zune, which is great for gamers and music lovers. And ever since the Mango update to WP7, users also have access to updated Bing search features and Local Scout (for providing nearby restaurants or shops).
The Titan II comes equipped with a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with a dual-LED flash and a BSI sensor for low-light shooting. I was happy to see that the white balance issues that plagued the Lumia 900’s camera were not present here. In fact, the quality of the photos I snapped with the smartphone was actually quite impressive, with images coming out clear and crisp.
I was also impressed with how the camera could achieve a shallow depth of field, albeit when the subject in question was extremely close to the lens. Meanwhile, the BSI sensor helped quite a bit with low-light shooting; as you can see in the sample image here, I shot a photo in the shadows beneath my desk, yet there really isn’t much noise at all. In fact, it looks more like I took the picture out in the open underneath the lights. I had to shoot in some very poorly-lit areas before I ran into any noticeable graininess.
The camera’s 720p video was decent, but nothing too special as it tended to suffer from motion blur pretty easily. Still, much like the photos, the picture was sharp and colors were well-saturated.
The battery life of the Titan II was excellent, especially for a 4G device. Given the size and capacity of the battery, I tried giving it a real push by keeping email push on, as well as Wi-Fi, location (GPS), and brightness on the maximum setting. Despite my best efforts to drain the battery as fast as I could, I still managed to get three full days out of it with legitimate usage for other activities like browsing, gaming, and finding directions (admittedly, I only made one 15-minute phone call during that period).
And after my intensive stress test of the battery, I tried seeing how long it could last with the same settings on, but much less usage in terms of web browsing and other activities. Truth be told, that didn’t help me squeeze too much more out of a single charge; I managed to get roughly another 16 hours of usage out of it.