Review by Dan Seifert on Monday April 16, 2012.
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The HTC Titan II is pretty light on apps out of the box, and you can either take that as a good thing (little to no crapware), or you could say that it lacks some functionality that other platforms and smartphones include by default. You can uninstall the handful of AT&T apps that are pre-loaded, which is nice, and HTC has pre-installed only its HTC Hub and Photo Enhancer apps. There are more HTC apps available in the Windows Phone Marketplace, but none of them are as good as the apps Nokia produces for its devices. The Marketplace has over 80,000 apps for download, but it is still missing key, big name apps that new smartphone buyers will likely be looking for. Popular apps like mobile games from Zynga (Draw Something, Words With Friends), Instagram, Pandora, PayPal, and many others are nowhere to be found.
The HTC Titan II's Internet Explorer Mobile browser is very fast when it comes to loading new webpages, scrolling, and zooming. However, it has trouble rendering many sites properly, which is something that we don't see in iOS or Android browsers. The Titan II's low screen resolution is really noticeable in the browser when you zoom all the way out on a full web page, as the vast majority of the text is unreadable. I do like the location of the address bar at the bottom of the screen, because it's easy to reach, and the tab management interface for navigating multiple web sites is nice. The browser does not support Adobe Flash Player, but it does have good support for HTML5 videos.
The big headline feature of the HTC Titan II is the new 16 megapixel camera with 28mm, f/2.6 lens and backside illuminated sensor. It's the highest resolution camera on any smartphone to date, and it beats out most any Windows Phone smartphone camera for image quality. It's not quite up to bar with the best of the best, though, as it can't match the cameras on the Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S II, or even HTC's own One X for sharpness and low-light performance. Images taken straight from the camera tend to be flat and lack punch, and could really benefit from additional post-processing. I also don't see an appreciable benefit of having twice as many pixels as the average smartphone camera, since the sharpness of the images doesn't do the high resolution justice. Autofocus is quick enough, though, and there is a dual-LED flash that can be used to provide more light in dark conditions.
HTC put in a lot of work enhancing the stock Windows Phone camera app for the Titan II, as it added a panoramic mode, a burst shot mode, various effects, face detection and smile capture, and an image stabilization feature. There is also an Intelligent Auto mode that did a good job at identifying what I was taking a picture of and adjusting settings accordingly (it's especially effective for macro shots).
The Titan II also includes a 1.3 megapixel front camera that works well enough for self portraits or the occasional video chat with the Tango or Skype apps (both available in the Windows Phone Marketplace, but not pre-installed).
Like any other Windows Phone smartphone, the Titan II is limited to 720p (1280 x 720 pixel) video capture despite its high-resolution still images. The frame rate in recorded videos is good, and it features continuous autofocus, but there are no zooming capabilities and the sound quality isn't the best.
Sound quality through the external speaker is pretty lousy, as it lacks any sort of definition and sounds really thin. It gets loud enough, though, and there is no distortion when it is cranked to max volume. HTC has included a Sound Enhancer feature in the Settings app that purportedly provides SRS audio enhancement to music and videos. Apart from a slight boost in volume, I didn't notice much of difference with the setting on or off - even with high-quality headphones. There aren't any headphones supplied with the Titan II, but it has a 3.5mm jack for standard headphones and supports Bluetooth audio streaming.
The HTC Titan II follows the trend of many recent smartphones, as it does not have a user-accessible battery. I don't think that will be much of a problem for many users, however, as the 1730mAh internal battery easily lasts a full day with my average use. Those that are less demanding on their smartphones will likely be able to get it to last even longer than that.
The HTC Titan II is a fine smartphone in its own right, although it might be too big for comfort for the majority of users. Unfortunately, its boring and uninspired design really don't set it apart from the competition, especially when considering Nokia's beautiful Lumia 900. On the flip side, the Titan II does perform most tasks well, and those that are fans of Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system will feel right at home.
However, the nail in the coffin for the Titan II is AT&T's $199.99 asking price for it. That is a tough price to swallow considering the more interesting and arguably more capable Lumia 900 is available for $99.99 or, for a limited time, even less. The Titan II's camera is definitely superior to the Lumia's, but it's not good enough to justify the extra cost associated with it. Those that are shopping for a new Windows Phone can easily do better than the Titan II, and everyone else will likely be happier with the iPhone 4S or an Android device.
Dan is MobileBurn.com's Editor-in-Chief. Based in Poughkeepsie in New York, Dan can be found on Twitter as @DCSeifert.