The HTC Titan II is every bit true to its mythological namesake. If it were cheaper than the Nokia Lumia 900, or if its rival didn't exist at all, it would be the biggest, baddest smartphone running Microsoft's operating system. It has agreeable performance and a few standout features under its large 4.7-inch-screened hood, but that same display left me hanging in other ways. And though its design is metallic and sturdy,it wasn't without its flaws. Find out if it's worth the splurge or if a cheaper Windows handset is a better choice.
HTC didn't step outside the box when designing the new Titan II. The phone is almost identical to its predecessor, the original HTC Titan. At 5.1 inches tall by 2.8 inches wide by 0.39 inch thick, this handset is just as much of a behemoth. Sculpted in the flat, rectangular slab shape that's become so common in today's smartphones, the Titan II is the spitting image of many of HTC's Android handsets. Tipping the scales at a hefty 6 ounces, the Titan II will weigh you down. But even so, the phone's soft-touch metallic gray finish, rounded curves, and tightly beveled edges give it a premium feel. I had no trouble wrapping my paws around it, but the Titan II's large size will pose a challenge for smaller hands.
Almost the entire front of the Titan II is dominated by its vast 4.7-inch display. With a WVGA (800x480-pixel) resolution, the Super LCD touch screen has the same resolution as the first Titan (also a 4.7-inch Super LCD) and the new Nokia Lumia 900 (4.3-inch, WVGA). While the Lumia's display is smaller, images on its screen look sharper because of its higher pixel density. Also, thanks to Nokia's ClearBlack filter, the phone's AMOLED display produces much higher contrast. When I set the two smartphones side by side, colors on the Lumia popped compared with on the Titan II. On the other hand, the Lumia's colors were oversaturated while the Titan II's screen created hues that were more lifelike to my eyes.
The bottom edge of the Titan II is slightly curved, forming a gentle chin. Here, right below the Titan II's screen, are icons for the three standard Windows Phone buttons for Back, Start, and Search. Like the Lumia 900's, the Titan II's keys are capacitive and backlit, and provide a soft vibration when you press them. Placed above the display are the handset's 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and thin earpiece, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and a small power button. The only other controls are a thin volume bar and dedicated camera key on the device's right side.
On back of the phone are the ultrahigh-resolution 16-megapixel camera and dual-LED flash array. A small speaker sits here too, plus understated monotone HTC and Windows Phone logos. A small textured back plate covers the SIM card compartment, but sadly there's no SD card slot for extra storage, and the battery isn't removable.
As a Windows Phone 7.5 Mango smartphone, the HTC Titan II provides practically the same user experience as any other WP7 handset. Mango features some welcome improvements such as Twitter integration in the People hub, threaded conversations, multitasking, and enhanced Bing search. You can read more about them in our in-depth review of Windows Phone Mango.
Now, don't get me wrong--though I love the power and customization the Android OS offers, (personally I find the rigidity of iOS too constraining), I appreciate what Windows Phone's Metro has to offer. Indeed, the user interface is intuitive, attractive, and engaging. My only objections, and they can be deal killers, concern not being able to find certain applications I can't live without. TweetDeck is one and I'm sure Instagram is another must-have for many users, but both sadly are missing from the WP7 market. Yes, Microsoft's app collection is 70,000 titles strong and growing, but it still has its share of holes.
As with the original Titan, HTC added a few of its own flourishes to the Titan II's OS. The HTC Hub showcases HTC's signature clock and weather widget plus featured apps, news, and stock reports, and there are HTC-branded apps like HTC Watch, HTC's video download and rental service, HTC's Photo Enhancer, Locations, Notes, and Connected Media. As you might expect, AT&T preloaded several of its own apps, like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Navigator, and AT&T Radio. You'll find the usual Windows Phone apps on board as well such as MS Office, Local Scout, and Bing Maps. Unlike the bloatware currently afflicting most Android phones, you actually can uninstall these apps completely if you desire.
Discounting the advanced 16-megapixel camera, not much has changed under the hood compared with the previous Titan model. The HTC Titan II has the same 1.5GHz single-core CPU, 4.7-inch screen, and 16GB of internal memory. One big change however is the GSM/HSPA+ world phone's access to true 4G LTE. Other connectivity options include GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, and Wi-Fi radio. If you're into video chat, the Titan II also sports the same 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera as the first Titan, plus the Tango chat app.
Integration with popular social media platforms on the Titan II is just as tight as ever. The phone supports Windows Live, Google Mail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts and also aggregates them into one convenient People Hub. Contacts and calendar details are seamlessly carried over from these services. I especially like the way the Pictures function makes it possible to save Facebook photos directly to the phone, something I still can't figure out how to do in Android. Also slick are the Windows Phone operating system's voice command capabilities. For instance, If the phone is connected to a headset, hitting the call button launches options to search and call contacts, or dictate texts to them just by speaking.