The Motorola Titanium is the latest Android Nextel device, complete with a full portrait keyboard and push-to-talk features. It's rugged, meeting MilSpec 810G for dust, shock, vibration, low pressure, solar radiation, high temperature and low temperature, and looks to be the replacement for the Moto i1, which was the previous Nextel Android phone. After a bit of time with it I think this would be a logical choice for the jobsite foreman, or anyone in uniform that needs this level of ruggedness, at the expense of performance. Yes, this phone is not perfect. After the break, check it out with me and decide if this one fits your needs.
No surprises with the hardware. It's very well built, and once everything is sealed up properly the Milspec toughness is easy to believe -- this phone feels solid, like you could drive nails with it (no nails were driven or harmed in this review). Unfortunately, as is usually the case, tough equals plain. All the bells and whistles we're used to seeing on the current crop of Android handsets are gone. No front facing camera, no HD recording, no advanced display technology. You're left with a solid, well built, and basic device.
The saving grace here is the four-row keyboard. It's done really well, and something that many folks are already used to from their BlackBerries. I'll go on record and say it's every bit as good as the old-school BB keyboard, and that's saying a lot. Once you get familiar with it, you'll find yourself typing faster than the phone can keep up (just like those old-school BlackBerries!). It's a portrait form factor done very well, I just wish the phone had a little more to offer to go along with it.
Specification-wise, it's not a beast. But it was never supposed to be a beast in that regard. It's a workhorse for people that need a workhorse, and Motorola electronics inside it should make for an excellent communications tool (more on that a bit later). For the record, here's those specs:
- Support for Nextel Direct Connect Services, including Direct Connect, Group Connect®, International Direct Connect®, DirectSendSM, Group Messaging and NextMail®
- Android Market for access to more than 150,000 applications, widgets and games available for download
- Google mobile services such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps with Navigation, syncing with Google Calendar™ and YouTube
- Corporate email (Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync) and personal (POP3 & IMAP) email
- 5-megapixel camera with camcorder, 4x zoom and flash
- Wi-Fi b/g
- Stereo Bluetooth
- GPS navigation
- microSD slot, with a 2GB memory card included, supporting up to 32GB
- 1820 mAh Lithium-ion battery
- Android 2.1 update 1
- 512MB RAM
- 300MB internal storage (190MB available for user apps)
- 504 MHz Freescale ARM11 CPU
- 3.1 inch capacitive touchscreen at 320x480
It's Blur. It's not the new Blur, and it's not quite the old Blur, it's a lighter version that works better with the lighter specs. All the basics are the same, but most of the social aspects have been pulled out and instead the stand-alone versions available in the Android Market pick up the slack. As it turns out, this works really well. You don't have any weirdness with your contacts by adding them to multiple accounts, you have better control over the syncing, and less resources being used is always a good thing. You'll see a bit of sluggishness when opening new applications, but moving through the home screens and menu is surprisingly fluid.
The Titanium runs on Android 2.1 update 1. We're guessing that two factors have kept the Titanium on an older version, and will keep it stuck there -- a fairly sluggish CPU and the need for IDEN and PTT messaging. It makes sense to think that not many more man-hours are going to be used to update a phone that runs on a dying standard. Because it's a slower processor, you'll find yourself breaking every rule you know and have read and using the task killer. And because it's IDEN, you'll find yourself using Opera Mini for web browsing -- which Sprint has included by default.
The app drawer has the standard Sprint bloatware included. Football, NASCAR, Telenav, and the Sprint Zone are something everyone is used to seeing by now, and like it or not they are included here as well. Unfortunately, even if you're a fan of any of them they don't run very well on the Titanium and it's weak innards. Also included are QuickOffice, a file browser, My Sign (very much like Google's Gesture Search), Motorola Help Center and Personal Portal. The latter two are nice applications, Help Center has a handy list of information about using the Titanium, and Personal Portal is a wireless file browser used with your computer.
Like the hardware, nothing on the software side will wow you, but it all works as intended if you don't mind a bit of sluggishness.
As you've already guessed by now, the Titanium is a bit sluggish and doesn't offer a very good experience, especially to an experienced Android user. The specs just don't quite cut the mustard. Motorola has done well enough trimming down the OS, but other applications can be frustrating to use, and you'll notice the whole system lagging behind a good bit. There's not much that can be done about this.
Battery life is excellent for an Android phone. Any user will have no problems making it through a full work day with the Titanium, and with a few settings adjustments, most people will be able to get two days use from the 1820 mAh battery. A smaller screen backlight, and a big power source make the difference here.
Call quality is excellent. The speakerphone is one of the best I've used, and PTT works as well or better than the various flip phones and earlier smartphones that have it. I did have one serious issue here -- I found myself missing calls because the Titanium stopped sounding off notifications randomly. A quick restart brought things back to normal, but a phone that won't ring dependably isn't going to do it for me. This could be a local issue with the network, or a one off due to a hardware flaw, but it's something that I have to mention. When it does ring, you'll find it a great phone.
Here's the part where we always say you need to try a phone yourself and form your own opinion, but I'm not going to do that this time. Instead, I think you should decide if you need a rugged Android phone with PTT functions. If you do, the Titanium is a better choice than the i1 it replaces. If you don't, well I have to suggest you look elsewhere. IDEN is a dead technology that's being phased out soon. Phones like the Motorola Titanium need to be phased out with it.
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