Motorola Titanium (Sprint) review:
Even though Sprint has indicated it will start the transition from iDEN to CDMA by the end of the year, it continues to release iDEN devices. Sprint has said that it will phase out its iDEN services by 2013, so it still has a few more years left to help the move along. The Motorola Titanium is one such handset, and is one of a few iDEN smartphones out there–indeed, the only other Android iDEN phone on the market is the Motorola i1, which is still sadly saddled with Android 1.5.
The Titanium isn’t much more advanced, alas. It ships with only Android 2.1, which is a couple of generations behind at the time of this writing, and the iDEN network isn’t known for fast data speeds. However, it has military-grade durability, Wi-Fi, corporate e-mail support, a decent keyboard, and it supports push-to-talk in the form of Nextel Direct Connect. Fortunately, Sprint has confirmed that Nextel Direct Connect phones will be compatible with future Sprint Direct Connect devices, so Titanium owners won’t be left behind.
At first glance, you would be forgiven if you thought the Motorola Titanium was just another clone of the Motorola Droid Pro or the Motorola XPRT. It has a very similar candy bar silhouette, with the large touch-screen display sitting above a vertical keyboard. However, the Titanium is decidedly more rugged than the other two. Like most Nextel handsets, the Titanium is built tough, and is designed to meet Military Specification 810G for dust, shock, vibration, low pressure, solar radiation, high temperatures, and low temperatures. However, it’s not water-resistant.
The Motorola Titanium is military-certified to withstand a variety of environmental hazards.
At 4.71 inches long by 2.44 inches wide by 0.53 inch deep, the Titanium is also a touch bulkier than its siblings, primarily due to the rubberized padding on the sides and back. The Titanium’s corners are slightly shaved, and at 5.2 ounces, it’ll likely put a dent in your pocket. The strip of plastic surrounding the front bezel is gunmetal gray, which matches the phone’s masculine aesthetic.
The Titanium’s display is similar to that on the Droid Pro and the XPRT. It measures 3.1 inches diagonally and has an HVGA (320×480 pixels) resolution with 16 million color support. The screen is certainly not as sharp as WVGA or AMOLED displays, but we still liked it. Graphics are bright and colorful and text is crisp and legible. The display did get rather washed out under bright sunlight, however. The touch screen is responsive, and it supports pinch-to-zoom. The phone also has a built-in accelerometer and a proximity sensor.
We’re admittedly not big fans of MotoBlur, so we’re glad not to see much of a MotoBlur presence on the Titanium. However, Motorola did add a few touches to the Titanium’s Android 2.1 interface. The phone dialer, menu, and contacts shortcuts on the bottom are simple and understated, and you can customize the home screen with a variety of Motorola widgets for Airplane Mode, Bluetooth toggle, Wi-Fi toggle, Data Sync, Direct Talk, One Touch DC, and more.
The downside here is that Android 2.1 does feel a bit primitive compared to the later firmware updates–the fit and finish isn’t there. For example, the main menu on Android 2.2 fades to black as you’re scrolling through the list, while the menu on 2.1 doesn’t. It’s an admittedly small matter, but it’s just something to keep in mind. Android 2.1 is still a decent OS for an iDEN device, and it does have five customizable home screens. We’ll get to the features of the OS in the next section.
Underneath the display are five physical buttons corresponding to the Send, Menu, Home, Back, and End/Power keys. Immediately beneath that is the four-row QWERTY keyboard, which should be familiar to anyone who has played around with a BlackBerry Bold. The keys are rectangular and are sloped towards the middle for easier thumb typing. Unlike the layout on the Droid Pro and the XPRT, the numbers on the Titanium’s keyboard are laid out in a grid on the left side, and there’s a Search button on the lower right corner. While the keyboard may look compact, we actually found it easy to type due to the shape of the keys. The phone doesn’t feel top heavy, but you do have to rest it on your fingers a little more when typing.
Sitting on the phone’s left spine are a volume rocker and large push-to-talk key, while the camera key and Micro-USB port are on the right. On the upper left of the display is a tiny LED indicator. On the top of the phone are the screen lock and speakerphone keys plus a 3.5mm headset jack. The camera and flash are located on the back.
As we mentioned, the Motorola Titanium ships with Android 2.1, which is far behind most Android handsets these days. The reason seems to be that the iDEN and push-to-talk devices tend to be a generation behind due to the need for stringent tests and stability. Since it has Android 2.1, you won’t get a lot of modern features like voice dialing over Bluetooth, app storage on microSD, Facebook syncing, Flash support, app-sharing, and more.
Regardless, it is an Android phone, and with that comes a solid compatibility with all of Google’s apps and services. You get Gmail, Maps, Latitude, Places, Google Talk, Voice Search, and YouTube built right in. The Titanium is also tailor-made for corporate e-mail support–in fact, it was one of the first questions that popped up during the initial setup. Just pop in your Microsoft Exchange settings, and it’s good to go. If you would rather get POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail, it’ll support those formats too.
The Titanium doesn’t have 3G, but that’s because iDEN wasn’t really built for data speeds–if you want to get online, it’s best to use Wi-Fi. If you aren’t near a Wi-Fi hot spot, we would recommend you use the Opera Mini browser that comes preinstalled in the Titanium. Opera Mini tends to be better equipped to handle slower speeds, and loading pages tend to be quicker. You can of course use the Google Webkit browser as well. The Titanium also has GPS and Bluetooth with A2DP compatibility.
Basic features on the Titanium include a calendar, an alarm clock, a voice recorder, text and multimedia messaging, a file manager, and more. Motorola and Sprint preinstalled a few apps of their own, like Facebook, Twitter, Nascar, Sprint Football Live, TeleNav, Sprint Zone, Quick Office, Nuance voice control, and of course Direct Talk, a push-to-talk app. The Titanium also has a separate walkie-talkie contacts list and call log interface. Other push-to-talk features include Group Connect, International Direct Connect, Direct Send, group messaging, and NextMail, a voice message-to-e-mail system.
The Motorola Titanium takes average photos.
There’s not much in the way of multimedia options with the Titanium, but you do get the basic Android music player, plus a 5-megapixel camera on the back. Photo quality was average. Images look fine, but had a soft and blurry quality. Colors were also quite dull.
We tested the Motorola Titanium in San Francisco using Sprint Nextel. Call quality was very impressive. On our end, we heard our callers loud and clear, as if they were next door. There was no background noise at all, and voice quality was superb.
Callers too reported very good quality. They couldn’t tell we were using a cell phone. There was a tiny bit of distortion at times, but it was not a problem. Volume levels were great on the whole, even when it came to the speakerphone. Callers reported very little echo, which is quite the achievement.
Motorola Titanium call quality sample
The Motorola Titanium only has a 504Mhz processor, so we wouldn’t recommend going overboard with graphics-intensive games, for example. With everyday app switching and navigation though, we didn’t encounter much lag. However, it was a tiny bit sluggish when launching certain apps like the browser and the camera–there was about a second or two of delay.
The Motorola Titanium has a rated battery life of 6.8 hours talk time and 9.8 days standby time. According to the FCC, it has a digital SAR of 0.68 watts per kilogram.
The Titanium is not intended as a smartphone for the everyday consumer. The target audiences for this phone are industry workers who need to use the push-to-talk iDEN network, but also want an Android handset. The other iDEN smartphones out there on the market–the Motorola i1, a few BlackBerry models–are quite out-of-date. Even though the Titanium has the older Android 2.1 OS on it, it’s actually the most advanced iDEN smartphone available from Nextel. That, combined with its military-certified durability, its corporate e-mail support, and the great keyboard, and the Titanium is a pretty robust handset for those who need a push-to-talk Android phone. If you don’t need push-to-talk iDEN services however, then the Titanium is definitely not the phone for you. The Titanium is $149.99 after a new two-year service agreement.