Along with the Nokia Lumia 900, the HTC Titan II shows that the Windows Phone operating system can command serious attention, but is this AT&T 4G LTE handset worth $100 more than its OS ally and wider market competitor?
The Windows Phone interface itself is incredibly slick and truly unlike what we usually see on iOS and Android, with big, animated tiles and pages that elegantly flip through without a snag. Even with relatively light specs on the Titan II, it runs well throughout.
While the 16-megapixel camera doesn't blow the competition out of the water like its double-digit number might indicate, it is quite good – nearly to the level of being a point-and-shoot replacement. Video footage in particular is well done here.
Battery life is quite solid, despite the big screen and a relatively small internal battery that cannot be removed. You'll get through a day just fine with moderate use, though constant interaction can certainly bleed it much more quickly.
Despite a low pixel density, the screen looks great most of the time, and the minimalist Windows Phone interface and many apps still shine.
AT&T's 4G LTE network disappointed regularly in our tests around Chicago. Slow loading speeds and dropped connections had us in fits, despite solid call quality.
Much as the OS impresses, the hardware itself is fairly generic. It's solidly built and feels good in the hand, but the outward-jutting lens could be an issue, and it lacks the amazing visual oomph of the Lumia 900.
Being capped at 16MB of internal storage with no option to supplement that with an SD card is a real shame, especially since the phone's bright display is perfectly capable of running high-resolution media.
The Windows Phone marketplace boasts 80,000+ apps, yet it's lacking a lot of the big apps and games seen on other platforms. It just feels thin, especially when you're browsing around for options. That's not HTC's fault, but it's something to consider when picking a handset.
The HTC Titan II is a very good Windows Phone handset that excels in a number of ways, from the stellar (and bulging) camera to its smooth interface performance and solid battery life.
But to answer the above question: it's tough to give the HTC Titan II the nod over the striking Lumia 900 at twice the on-contract price. The two handsets are similar in many ways, but the cheaper Nokia handset is not only very capable, but also looks and feels impressive, while the Titan II is just a solid revision of a past release. At a cheaper price, it's worth a look – but as things stand, this stellar Windows Phone plays second fiddle to Nokia's headline option.