Review: HTC's Titan 4G Has A Bad Case Of Split Personality
By Tony Ibrahim | Monday | 18/06/2012
HTC's Titan has nabbed headlines for its 4G modem and 16MP camera, but this is one smartphone that isn't an overachiever, and that's in part to Windows' domineering OS.
The Titan 4G is a towering grey giant, defined by a 4.7 inch screen that has a 480x800 resolution. At 147 grams it's a heavy smartphone, and that's without the traditional slide-out QWERTY keyboard found on its forefathers.
In terms of design, the Titan 4G lacks inspiration. It's a behemoth drenched in banal grey, modelling no swooning curves or premium materials. Instead, HTC hope much of the Titan's allure will come from its expansive screen. The screen appears vibrant in colour and benefits from prominent backlighting, but it's not enough to make this eyesore beautiful.
HTC has already proven it can produce exquisitely crafted smartphones (simply look at their One range), but for some reason the company has chosen conservative styling for the Titan. I can only presume they looked at its professional Windows Phone OS and its 4G modem, and decided the everyday businessman would want something a little more uniform.
And that's fine, businessmen need smartphones too. However, I'm not sure how many businessmen would use the Titan's 16MP camera; the kind of feature that steals headlines and attracts the attention of multimedia enthusiasts. The Titan, then, is a smartphone with two part time gigs.
The part-time business/part-time multimedia smartphone is powered by a single core 1.5GHz processor that is aided by 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory.
On the back are a 16MP camera and a dual OLED flash, while a 1.3MP cam resides on the front. Although the front camera can be used for videoconferencing via VOIP applications, Windows Phone doesn't support video calls (yet).
Unfortunately, the Windows Phone OS has dictated a lot of its hardware, making it appear dated alongside the slew of Android drones and even Apple's iPhone.
The software relies on its aesthetic charm to woo users, and it wouldn't surprise me if many people succumbed to its fluidity, transitions and understated elegance. However, Windows Phone hasn't reached maturity yet, held back by a relatively limited number of applications, immature mapping and is tight with what hardware HTC can make use of.
Take the screen for instance, which although spans 4.7 inches, promotes a modest 480x800 resolution. It's not that HTC didn't have the capacity to equip this smartphone with a HD screen like its rivals, but rather such a screen wouldn't be compatible with Windows Phone.
The same deficiencies can be found throughout the rest of the smartphone: the processor is limited to a single core; the camera, to HD video recording; memory doesn't accommodate an external SD card; file management relies on Microsoft's Zune software; and so on.
Instead of building a smartphone around these limitations, like Nokia has done with their fantastic Lumia 800, you get the feeling HTC made the most of luxury features.
The first is the 4G LTE technology, which despite my indifference to the Titan 4G, is an absolutely wonderful additive. Powered by Telstra's 4G network, the HTC Titan downloads most applications quicker than it can install them, and offers a sense of reliability scarcely available to other smartphones. The internet is always ready, always consistent, always fast, and that is empowering.
Unfortunately the 16MP camera isn't. Typically I'd applause such a feat, but besides the extraordinarily large photosâ€”which are impressively renderedâ€”the camera is lacking. It snaps panoramic photos in a primitive fashion, requiring users to align images one by one and then stitches them together. Although decent in quality, they're a chore and fail on the ease-of-use front.
It's also limited to HD videos in a climate where Full HD is the norm. This Windows Phone limitation is just another little reason why the Titan doesn't feel special.
Replaying the 1280x720 videos on the 800x480 screen is a mixed affair, with the colour and brightness making colours pop, but the limited resolution scaling back clarity, especially when compared to the HTC One X or the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Worse yet, although these smartphones have half the megapixel count, they're distinguished by DSLR sensibilities, such as the ability to snap high resolution pics while recording a Full HD video. Unfortunately these features aren't present on the Titan, and if pro cameras sacrifice megapixels to have them on board, why wouldn't a smartphone?
What HTC has done is push a single feature to the extent of Windows Phone's limits to make the Titan appear special, but the reality is it's limited as a multimedia device.
Rival smartphones play a large role in my criticism because the Titan 4G isn't bad. Unfortunately, it exists in a climate where choice has spoiled consumers as manufacturers have been forced to innovate at warp speed.
The 4G internet found in the Titan 4G is a great addition, but if you're after 4G, what's wrong with the better looking, better equipped and cheaper HTC One XL?
That's right, nothing.
|HTCs One XL is the smartphone to have if you're after 4G without the compromise||
Apr/May 2011 issue
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