Hardware

Motorola Titanium: Yet another physical keyboard, minus the charm

What's not to love about the Motorola Titanium? According to Jack Wallen, quite a bit.

Recently, I reviewed the HTC Status. It was one of the few newer phones with both virtual and physical keyboards where the physical one seriously out-shined the virtual. And while that phone had a limited audience (Facebook junkies), it still had a hardware form factor that many users could appreciate.

So, how about the Nextel-branded Motorola Titanium? This is a brand new phone, running an out-of-date Android OS, with one of the worst physical keyboards I have ever touched. Let me tell you how I really feel about the Titanium.

Specs

  • Network: iDEN 800/900 MHz, Nextel Direct Connect®, 900MHz DirectTalk (US only)
  • OS: Android 2.1
  • Camera: 5 MP with 4x digital zoom
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Lion
  • Memory: Built-in 512 MB, up to 32 GB expansion

What's unique

This phone sports a vanilla installation of Android (albeit an out-of-date installation), so there's nothing special about the user interface. The only features unique to the Titanium are:

  • It is the first iDEN device to combine Sprint's Nextel Direct Connect with Android >= 2.1
  • It is certified to Military Specification 810 G for dust, shock, vibration, solar radiation, and high/low temperature

If you need a push-to-talk device that can withstand some fairly tough conditions, the Titanium is the phone for you. However, if you're a gadget junkie who longs for the latest and greatest device, you best look the other way, because you'll be disappointed with the Titanium.

The bad

The baddest of the bad on this device is the physical keyboard. After using the physical keyboard on HTC Status (which happens to be one of the best I've used), the Titanium arrives at the other end of the spectrum. I have smaller hands, and even with my digits, I was having to rely on fingernails to use the keys. Anyone with average size fingers (or larger) will find the keyboard absolutely useless.

The next in the list of bad is the speed of the network. I opted to forgo wireless to test the speed of browsing on the Nextel network, and it was atrocious. It felt as if I had been thrown back to using my old Palm Treo, with load times of about a millennium for a simple web site.

Of course, I can't really have a list of "bad" without including the already mentioned out-of-date OS. My AT&T Samsung Captivate has version 2.2 of Android, and AT&T is one of the WORST companies at updating Android. To think that a recently-released device by a different provider carries an even older version of Android is unthinkable. Yet, there it is.

The good

There is but one shining good feature to the Titanium, and that is the solidity of the phone. The second you pick up this device, you know it's solid — rock solid. It's as heavy as a rock and can probably withstand the same type of torture. That military-grade certification certainly isn't taken lightly on the Titanium.

Who's it for?

If you don't care about having the latest and greatest, if you have tiny fingers (or prefer a virtual keyboard), and you need a really, REALLY tough phone — Motorola's Titanium is for you. Otherwise, don't bother. The whole virtual/physical keyboard is a hard sell these days, with screen real estate being one of the main selling points of modern mobile devices. When you add a physical keyboard, the rest of the phone better shine like the sun or else it's going to suffer from a severe case of "fail." That, unfortunately, is what the Titanium does in the end.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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