[2012-03-06 - an update to this review was made to item 5 below]
As a happy owner of HTC HD7 - the predecessor of the TITAN model which was the first Windows Phone 7 handset from HTC - I couldn't resist the temptation to find out more about this handset. I had good opportunity to get my hands on this handset without parting with my money as a family member just purchased it. Having played a bit with this big toy, I thought I share my observations as a comparative review against HD7.
So what has changed from HTC HD7?
First the external looks:
1) Most noticeable of all is of course the screen size, 4.7 inch as opposed to 4.3 inch for HD7.
2) The 3.5mm headset jack has moved to the top near the power button as opposed to the bottom of the phone for HD7. This is a welcome change as this is a more convenient orientation for a headphone plug.
3) The microUSB (charger/data socket) at the bottom on HD7 is now relocated to the lower left side on the TITAN (almost mirrors the camera button on the right). The bottom side of the TITAN is now occupied only by a release button to open its back cover (HD7 has no such release button - instead has a simpler back cover with a notch to be lifted by a finger for opening). Power, Volume UP/Down, and Camera buttons remain exactly the same as HD7.
4) The pull-out kickstand used to place the HD7 handset on a flat surface (ideal when watching movie or making a conference call without holding the handset) is gone from the TITAN. I suppose, when weight reduction is at a premium, such extras turn out to be less important.
Next, the TWO things I am delighted to see as an improvement to HD7:
5) At last, the front-facing camera of 1.3MPixel resolution for video calls! Okay, Microsoft is not yet ready to launch Skype on Windows Phone (I read they're working flat out to convert the Embarcadero Delphi based code into Silverlight) but will hopefully happen. With Skype (or alternative video calls) the front-facing camera will be a necessity. Good show HTC!
------------------------------------------------- UPDATE on 5) above [2012-03-06]: 9 days ago on 26th February a Beta version of Skype was released for Windows Phone which can be installed from Windows Phone MarketPlace. A sign of things to come for the BIG THREE (Apple, Google, Microsoft) battling out for the smartphone market share. No doubt 2012 is a decisive year for Microsoft Windows Phone!). -------------------------------------------------
6) DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) - well, this rather cryptic gobbledegook is just an interface standard - as far as the handset is concerned - a streaming interface standard to play the handset multimedia (pictures, videos, music) on your TV, that is, on a DLNA compatible TV (some new TVs are DLNA compatible although may not be 100%). If you do not have a DLNA compatible TV, HTC has already thought of the solution - you just get a gadget - the Titan Media Link DLNA Adaptor - that talks to your handset and your TV. For around £40 this comes for under half the price of what iPad/iPhone owners pay for a gadget that does similar thing but in the Apple world (as opposed to Microsoft world) - the Apple TV. Although I had no opportunity to see it in action, it is worth noting that the DLNA standard has long been supported on a Windows Phone by LG Optimus 7 handset.
And the rest of the significant improvements ...
7) As should be expected, the TITAN is faster (1.5GHz CPU as opposed to 1 GHz for HD7) and a huge screen that makes it a serious pocket computer.
8) The TITAN camera and video is now enhanced with a resolution increased to 8Mpixel (from HD7 5MPixel). Handset picture quality is not HTC's strength but shows that they're catching up with the camera optics now equipped with a wide-angle lens of f/2.2, 28mm which was missing from HD7. The TITAN supports the 720p video recording at 30 fps but HD7 does this at a reduced frame rate (20 fps or lower, hence not 720p).
9) Battery life is also upped thanks to the 1600 mAh capacity battery (1230mAh for HD7), allowing talk-time of nearly 12 hrs (just over half of this for HD7). According to published data, the TITAN does 90% more talk-time and 20% more standby time than the HD7.
10) Surprisingly the HTC TITAN at 160 grams is 2 grams lighter than the HD7 (how do they do that?) although the bigger screen size and more features and performance - which almost implies more material as in camera optics and more electronics packaging - and therefore suggests otherwise. Good show HTC!
Furthermore, there are also other performance improvements tucked away: improved performances in 3G/3.5G network, Wi-Fi hotspot, faster web browsing, turn-by-turn GPS navigation support, and so on. All in all, HTC TITAN is not a minor product improvement - it's a major step up from the HTC HD7, noting that HTC HD7 is already a very capable and elegant phone.
I very much like my HTC HD7 as it really gives a true meaning to the word 'smartphone' - thanks to the very smart Mango operating system from Microsoft, although there are one or two very annoying omissions from the operating system by the software giant. For numerous improvements this Windows Phone offers, I like the TITAN even more. As Windows Phone owner already, I am however not in a rush; I can wait a bit for HTC TITAN II to arrive in the shops.