HTC titan review

Of course, the big story here is what's under the HTC Titan's hood. It's been 12 months now since the long awaited Windows Phone 7 landed following the virtual, drawn out mobile car crash that had been Windows Mobile.

But although it brought several new offerings to the table, it also left so many out. Hence why, within months of buying it, owners were clawing at the walls to get their hands on Windows Phone 7.5 Mango: the first major update, which took the best part of a year to arrive.

The good news is that Microsoft has opened up 500 APIs to developers. The bad news is that there's still a lot that needs doing here.

HTC titan review

Remember, the key word when trying to comprehend Windows Phone 7 (if you've not used it yet) is "integration." Stick to that and you'll be fine. It really is a unique operating system in that you have to throw out all previous experience of using apps such as Facebook on, say, an iPhone, and start again.

The various elements of that service and others are interwoven with the Windows Phone 7 interface. It all becomes one. And after you get used to it, you realise just how slick and pleasant that feels.

HTC titan review

The big thing about the HTC Titan's interface is tiles. The 'today screen' mantra is gone and replaced with a series of easy-to-press large rectangular tiles that display various bits of information. You can reorder them however you see fit, or remove or replace them. The beauty is that they're live so, in theory, continuously update with relevant information as it comes in.

We're big fans of the tile system - don't get us wrong. It's unique and it is different to anything we've seen before. And we know that we're going to be slaughtered by some for saying it, but we have to admit we're a little bored of it now.

HTC titan review

Customisation goes as far as changing background colour from black to white or the tile colour to one of about a dozen options and adding your own tiles. But there is no way of changing the entire look like there is on Android.

To be fair, iOS and BlackBerry are the same in their restrictions, but having gone away and used Android for a while, we have to admit we ended up with itchy fingers. But that's just us.

HTC titan review

The problem for HTC (who, as we all know, loves to skin its phone to within an inch of its life) is that it just can't do that on Windows Phone 7.5. HTC Sense (or TouchFLO before it) may work well on Android or the old Windows Mobile, but home decorations are locked out on Windows Phone 7.5.

It's restricted to including its own flagship wallpaper for the lock screen and an HTC Hub (basically an app), which includes things such as weather, stocks, news and favourites. These are things Windows manages itself elsewhere in the operating system.

However, like Android, you can now shortcut directly to system functions via a tile (for example turning Wi-Fi on or off without going through the whole menu), which we like.

Apps are all located in a vertical start menu, which is brought up when you click a little arrow on the screen. They're displayed in alphabetical order, and although there's a search function if you have gazillions, there's no way of creating folders, which is a bit of a pain.

Multitasking is now present, having been lacking on the original Windows Phone 7 handsets, but it's flaky to say the least. You long-press the Back button and it gives you something akin to the cards system from WebOS. But it seems to have a mind of its own.

HTC titan review

We fired up a few different apps and toggled between them. When we went back to Angry Birds, it showed on the card where we were up to before we toggled away, but then launched the app from the start again when we selected it.

We started writing a tweet and managed to successfully toggle back in and out of it as we left it, but then at other times it restarted the entire app. It appears to freeze apps in state like iOS, rather than keeping them continuously running in the background, but while this may benefit battery, don't be too surprised if it throws a wobbler.

It could be that individual apps do need fixing to use multitasking, so we may have to wait and see here.