The wait is over! This is the weekend that the AT&T Tilt 2 will hit the retail stores! And to help you make a better decision on purchasing or upgrading to the AT&T Tilt 2, I have been reviewing the device for the last week and have written up a review to hopefully get you better acquainted with the Tilt 2 before you buy it. So should I let the cat out of the bag and tell you what I thought? Why not! It is probably a no brainer at this point anyway! I really liked the AT&T Tilt 2 and this week as been an absolute pleasure with the device. But there are some things you need to know about the Tilt 2 prior to purchasing and I hope my review will shed some light on those issues and help you make the right decision before you buy it. And as always, if there is something not covered in the review that you would like to know, please feel free to post any of your comments in our Forums which can be found here:
We welcome all feedback and look forward to building a Tilt 2/Touch Pro 2 community like we did with the Fuze! Check out the review after the break!
AT&T Tilt 2 Review
Author: Doug Smith
Price: $349.99 (with $50.00 Mail in rebate and 2 year contract at the time of this review)
Manufacturer: HTC (High Tech Computer Corporation)
Overall Rating: 85/100
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great honor that I introduce you to the NEW AT&T Tilt 2!” That is the phrase I always think of when I first start writing a review and it starts with an “Introduction” category. That phrase, when you are talking about an AT&T Windows Mobile Device does not apply. The reason is that we have known the device (Touch Pro 2) for several months through the European HTC Branded Device that was released in June 2009, and later through more aggressive US Carriers like T-Mobile that released their version of the Touch Pro 2 on August 12th. AT&T got a lot of criticism for the amount of time they took to release their version of the Touch Pro 2. Why did they wait so long? Lots of speculation was that AT&T had not gotten all the mileage out of the Apple iPhone 3GS and were purposely holding off on their release of the Touch Pro 2, which during this time was being called the Fortress. What we found out later was that AT&T was going to release the Touch Pro with Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 that Microsoft had scheduled to be release Tuesday October 6th. Now some excitement was generating for the “Fortress” as we thought it would be called. It would later be leaked that the AT&T branded Touch Pro 2 would not be called the Fortress after all, but in fact be named after a predecessor from AT&T, the Tilt. AT&T had decided to call their version of the Touch Pro 2 by HTC the Tilt 2. Pieces of the puzzle were coming together and a lot of excitement was generating for the Tilt 2, and in early October, we would finally get the news that the Tilt 2 would launch October 8th to Premier Customers and through telesales, and would launch in all retail stores on October 18th. AT&T had said that there was concern that initial quantities would not cover their commercial sales, and that there would be shortages in the stores. So how will the Tilt 2 compare to the other HTC Touch Pro 2 variants in the US? Will the Tilt 2 have the same impact on consumers as its AT&T Predecessors the 8125, 8525, Tilt, or Fuze? Let me take you through Mobility Digest’s full review of the AT&T Tilt 2 and let you be the judge!
The second you remove the AT&T Tilt 2 from the box, you have an immediate feeling that this is a solidly built device. HTC does a superb job engineering and maintaining the highest build quality on their devices. Removing the back cover of the device was a little bit of a concern. The back cover is much thinner than previous devices and I remember myself thinking that replacements will be a hot seller for the Tilt 2. After installing the 1500 mAh battery into place, a lot of my fears about the back cover were reduced as the Tilt 2’s back cover perfectly conforms to the device and there is no up and down or side to side movement on the back cover indicating how thin it was made. I still feel this may be a concern in the future, because unlike other devices in the past, the Tilt 2 requires you to remove the back cover to soft reset the device. Unless totally frozen, there are software applications that allow you to soft reset your device that will cut down on some of the removal of the back cover, but there is still the storage card located behind the cover that sometimes is handy to remove for transferring large files (music, movies, etc) without having to use ActiveSync. The look of the AT&T Tilt 2 is very nice with huge 3.6 inch screen getting the most attention. Surrounding the screen is a chrome bezel that really sets off the device nicely. The chrome bezel does tend to make the Tilt 2 look a lot like the iPhone which some people will not like, but I personally really like the look. The back cover has a dark gray metallic finish that is nowhere close to the finger print magnet the AT&T Fuze was. As far as the slide out keyboard is concerned, there was absolutely no issue with the mechanism and the tilting screen rotates very well. I would also like to point out to anyone new to the Tilt, that if you are concerned with the life cycle of the tilting mechanism, there is no need. I still have my original Tilt and the mechanism after one solid year of constant use, and back duty while I used my Fuze is still rock solid. HTC again does an excellent job engineering and building these devices for years of service life. To summarize my first impression, I was very impressed with the look and feel of the AT&T Tilt 2. I was not happy with the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack and the placement of the soft reset button behind the back cover, but the amazing screen just blows me away and makes the lack of any other internal hardware upgrades seem not as dramatic.
WHAT YOU GET IN THE BOX
- AT&T Tilt 2 Device (HTC-ST7377)
- 1500 mAh Li-Ion Battery
- AC Charger
- Mini-USB Sync Cable (used with AC Charger also)
- HTC Audio Adapter (3.5 mm & 2.5 mm)
- Spare Stylus
- Screen Protector
- Getting Started CD, Quick Guide, & Promotional Material
AT&T has consolidated their AC Charger to make use of the Mini-USB Sync Cable that has always been included. While this is an acceptable consolidation to reduce cost, I still feel a case should be included with the device at this level of purchase. Even though AT&T subsidizes the device with a two year contract that reduces the cost considerably, there should still be carrying case included as HTC still does. So be prepared to shop around and the many different manufacturers of cases available to make sure you protect your investment. I would also encourage you to start looking for a better screen protector. The provided screen protector will not last long if you are someone who uses your stylus a lot. Having said that, the AT&T Tilt 2 is much more finger friendly with Windows Mobile 6.5 and HTC Touch Flo 3D 2.1. But there are still times when a stylus makes things easier. I would recommend buying one of the higher end screen protectors like Boxwave Clear Touch Crystal that will last you a long time and protect your devices screen.
- Dimensions: 4.54 x 2.33 x 0.65 inches
- Weight: 6.30 ounces
- Talk Time: Up to 8.5 hours
- Standby Time: Up to 20 days
- Battery: 1500 mAh Li-Ion
- Technology: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSDPA/UMTS*
- Frequency: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (GSM/GPRS/EDGE); 850/1900/2100 MHz (HSDPA/UMTS)*
- Operating System: Windows Mobile® 6.5 Professional
- Memory: 512 MB ROM, 288 MB RAM
- Display: 3.6 inches Color TFT LCD, flat touch-sensitive screen with WVGA (480 x 800) resolution
- MicroSD™ up to 32 GB (card sold separately)
- HAC: M3/T3; TYY compatible
As I mentioned in the First Impression Section, not a whole lot has changed from the AT&T Fuze to the Tilt 2 in the hardware department. The AT&T Tilt 2 uses the same QUALCOMM MSM7201A 528MHz processor as the Fuze. Like the AT&T Fuze, I did not experience any problems relating to the processor that I can comment about but it should be noted that the newer software of the AT&T Tilt 2 has been greatly optimized so the device, by all accounts, is snappier than the AT&T Fuze. Even with the AT&T Tilt 2’s larger and improved WVGA screen, I did not notice any issues. With QUALCOMM and HTC releasing several Snapdragon 1GHz devices early next year, hopefully we will see an upgrade in the next device launch from AT&T.
Same as the processor, HTC did not improve any on the memory for the Touch Pro 2. The AT&T Tilt 2 as with all of the US Carriers with Touch Pro II’s in their lineup all have the same memory with 512mb of ROM and 288mb of RAM.
The AT&T Tilt 2 uses Wi-FI IEEE (802.11 b/g/e/i)—access and transfer data and performs very well. I had no trouble connecting to my home or office networks. The Bluetooth radio (Stereo Bluetooth® 2.1 with EDR) also functioned as expected and I had no trouble pairing the Tilt II to several earpieces as well as my Motorola Stereo Headset. HTC has again stepped up and provided a new Bluetooth transfer application that makes it very simple to print, network and transfer contacts, photos and files over Bluetooth.
The AT&T Tilt 2 uses frequencies 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (GSM/GPRS/EDGE); 850/1900/2100 MHz (HSDPA/UMTS) for call and data. Over the weekend the Tilt 2 performed nothing less than stellar. Out of the box the AT&T Tilt 2 performed better than my heavily tweaked Fuze with any radio swap I tried on it. Calls were clear and the speaker microphones are excellent. The dual speakers and microphones really perform well. It was nice to play and hear videos from my device I wanted to check on some of the other Mobility Digest Team members that are also testing their Tilt 2 devices and all agreed that the call quality, even in the New York area was nothing short of superb.
The AT&T Tilt 2 has a built A-GPS (Assisted Global Positioning System) that I again found to be very responsive. The Difference between “A”-GPS and GPS is that the A-GPS makes use of the Cell Phone Towers to help get a faster lock on the satellites. The AT&T Tilt 2 comes with Navigator that I have tested before, but not on the Tilt 2. Navigator is pay for software that runs $5.99 monthly. It does work well, but I have always found Windows Live Search (Bing) and Google Maps to work very well.
3.6” WVGA screen…need I say more? Yes, it’s beautiful. And yes it’s very large and very crisp. Once you start to use it you’ll never be able to look at your old friend the Fuze the same any longer. The screen size leads to one other great benefit – increased screen sensitivity. This is because with a larger screen there’s more flexibility to it so a resistive screen becomes more sensitive at this size. In the end it’s great to look at and great to touch. The only downside is very bright light which tends to wash out the screen.
When you first pick up the Tilt 2 it feels solid and heavy in fact. Within a day it just feels solid. When you place the Tilt 2 next to other phones you realize that it’s actually not that much larger than a lot of other phones on the market in terms of outside dimensions. Setting this down on a table with the screen tilted is a thing of beauty. With such a large screen at such a high resolution you can sit back and enjoy it and you don’t need to hold it a foot away from your face. One issue that I ran into a few times was that when tilting the screen I used my thumb to pivot the screen which resulted in me hitting the onscreen soft keys. Now that I realize that’s possible I’m careful not to do that so it’s a not a big issue.
HTC has provided a zoom bar that allows you to zoom in/out on select applications. I don’t find this particularly useful or well implemented. I would have preferred to see a trackwheel or touch sensitive dpad instead.
The entire back of the phone is dedicated to a speaker and microphone system that’s sick. It’s the best I’ve ever experienced on a phone and playing music is enjoyable. The dual mics also allow for noise cancelling when the speakerphone is on so there’s no echo. The rear also has a mute button located on the back that’s pretty convenient. As an added feature, by simply turning the phone face down the gsen triggers the speakerphone so there’s no need to press any buttons.
While there’s nothing physically noticeable on the phone, on the top left corner of the phone is a proximity sensor. As your face (or hand) comes close to it the screen turns off during a call. It works as advertised and it’s great to see HTC finally integrated this hardware as you quickly become accustomed to it.
We were so impressed by the camera improvements that we already devoted a posting to it:
Which we then followed up with side by side comparison shots:
To recap, the video quality is four time higher resolution than the Fuze which was very noticeable. The Tilt 2 also has ISO settings and in low light settings it really outperformed the Fuze and was downright decent for a cell phone considering the situation. Man, just looking at those old postings made me remember what an upgrade it is. So here’s an area where the specs are misleading- despite having an identical 3.2mp camera the quality of the Tilt 2 is far superior to the Fuze and for the first time on an HTC phone I’m proud of the camera quality on the Tilt 2.
Simply put, best keyboard ever. I had a lot of doubts about it after seeing it in pictures but after using it I was sold. The spacing between the keys is a lot like your PC’s keyboard – it helps to ensure a proper keystroke. Like any new keyboard it takes a little getting used to specifically the location of the function keys) but once you get that down you can really start to knock out a serious amount of text with this guy. The keyboard is large, spread out and responsive and within a few days I was able to type almost as fast as a full sized keyboard. The only downside is that the keyboard omits an ‘ok’ and Windows key which I used to use to navigate without tapping the screen…notice the use of the past tense.
With such a good keyboard one almost forgets about the onscreen keyboard…almost. But there are lots of times where you want to one hand it and with a huge sensitive screen like the Tilt 2 has its extraordinarily friendly and conducive to onscreen typing. I’m not sure any onscreen keyboard will be as fast or as accurate as a physical keyboard but the onscreen keyboard of the Tilt 2 is nothing to laugh it. In fact, it’s so good that for shorter messages I found myself using it exclusively. It’s the HTC onscreen keyboard we’ve seen before but the sheer size of it changes everything. By default there’s a little vibration (haptics) when you press a key and while I usually don’t like this I have to admit it works well on the Tilt 2. Call me impressed.
You can also see a lot more of the AT&T Tilt 2 keyboard in action by checking out my AT&T Tilt 2 Part 3 Video on Backlighting. It is posted to our Mobility Digest You Tube account located here:
AT&T Tilt 2 Part 3 Keyboard Backlighting
Can you say massive 1500mAh battery? I know you can. In the past we’ve noted how good HTC has become over time at increasing the battery life of their phones:
In CNET’s test the Touch HD was among the best and that was with a 1340mAh battery. There aren’t new tests on the Tilt 2 yet but based on the battery size and what we’ve seen for ourselves you won’t be complaining about it. It’s large and it will last you for a full day without a problem. That’s a bold statement when we all remember how our Tilt’s (Tilt 1) performed but HTC got it right in the Tilt 2.
Ever try setting up a conference call on a cell phone? Well on the Tilt 2 it’s better than trying to set up a conference call from your office. A conference call screen let’s you choose multiple contacts, dial them one by one and once connected you can send files or texts to parties on the call (and you can even choose to send items to one or all participants). It’s amazing in action and ridiculously easy to use. From a business perspective it’s worth its weight in gold.
There is no doubt that the biggest piece of software on the AT&T Tilt 2 is TouchFlo 3D 2.1 by HTC. TF3D 2.1 offers device owners more finger friendly navigation than ever before. I think it is fair to point out that I am a huge TF3D Fan, but there are tons of other UI options available if TF3D is not your cup of tea. Programs like SPB Mobile Shell 3.5 or if you like the Windows Mobile 6.5 Default home screen , you can add from a ton of different themes for it.
New to TouchFlo 3D 2.1 is some new Tabs like Calendar, Stocks, and integrating Facebook into the contacts tab. HTC also upgraded the Weather tab and the Settings tab has way more options than ever before making it very easy to avoid more of the Windows Mobile Interface than before.
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Moving on from the HTC TouchFlo 3D user interface, let’s take a look at what AT&T installed for us. In the past we have been very critical of “Bloat” included with AT&T ROM’s. Bloat being applications like Trial Ware that do nothing but hog up space. In the past we have been able to get rid of these unwanted programs by performing a simple Bloat Removal Trick. Unfortunately, this will not be possible on the AT&T Tilt 2 because it does not have an extended memory partition . Quoting sleonard at XDA:
The TP2 does not have an extended memory partition like some previous HTC devices (My old Hermes for example). That extended partition was used to hold the bloatware installers that were configured to run after the first reboot whenever the device was hard reset.
The bad news is that the bloatware is now cooked directly into the ROM by HTC.
The good news is that the space that would be lost to extended memory is usable.
Some of those cooked in bloatware apps might still be uninstallable via the remove programs applet but will still have traces left behind.
So does that mean you are permanently stuck with Bloat? No, not really. You can manually remove it through a file manager or you can Flash a Custom ROM. Either way will remove these unsightly programs that many people find unwanted. If that is more than you want to bite off, I did find that AT&T Tilt 2 ROM was the fastest and most responsive that I have used to date. The majority of reason is how TouchFlo 3D 2.1 has been more fully optimized and Windows Mobile 6.5. I am not going to go in to a lot of the included software with the AT&T Tilt 2 as much of it has already been reviewed or discussed on our websites already. So here is a bunch of screen shots and the application listing.
AT&T Tilt 2 Start Menu:
AT&T Tilt 2 Games:
AT&T Tilt 2 Settings:
AT&T Tilt 2 Apps & Tools:
To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest parts to write in a review. The Conclusion is where I draw a line under everything and let you know what I think after using the AT&T Tilt 2 for a week. The first thing I want to make sure of is to be as fair as possible and separate my personal feelings for the AT&T Tilt 2 the best I can. So to be fair, I would like to give three different perspectives in my conclusion: First is my personal view, second is from someone new to Windows Mobile, and third is a current Tilt/TyTN II or Fuze/Touch Pro owner thinking of buying the Tilt 2. So here goes:
Personally, I am absolutely in love with the Tilt 2. I have been waiting for a large screen, converged device since I left my Dell Axim x50v. I have owned every AT&T Branded device that HTC has made starting with the 2125 all the way through the Fuze. The AT&T Fuze was close to the ultimate device for me but only missed the mark by not having the large VGA screen that I left behind on my Dell Axim x50v. But now, with the AT&T Tilt 2, I have everything I had in the Dell Axim x50v and more with features like integrated GPS, Camera, and brilliant large screen. Using the Tilt 2 this week was an absolute pleasure even having to use it with the Stock ROM. I think the AT&T Tilt 2 is the strongest device AT&T has ever brought to market with even having only marginally improved on some hardware aspects. For me, the large screen changes the whole dynamic of mobility and allows me a much better user experience not had for me on the 2.8 inch screened Fuze/Touch Pro. The overall size increase on the Tilt 2 is only noticeable when in operation and not during inactivity carrying the device by hand or on a belt holster. I can assure you that you will not need another notch in your belt to hold up a Tilt 2 compared to your Fuze!
But what if you are new to Windows Mobile and looking for a stable, user friendly device? The Tilt 2 will fit the bill. Honestly, I have read some reports already that there are some applications that have locked up. I’m just being fair in mentioning this, but for me, I have not had any issue with the device and it has performed very well not having locked up under any daily task. Whether you like TouchFlo 3D or CHome, which is the UI developed by Microsoft for Windows Mobile 6.5, both make it much easier than ever before to use a Windows Mobile Device. But is Windows Mobile 6.5 and TF3D where they need to be in the market place to compete with the iPhone or a BlackBerry? I would say yes because of the massive “tweakability” you get out of a Windows Mobile Device. The trade off for having more of a learning curve with this kind of device is owning the most powerful handset in the US market that can virtually do anything you ask of it. I think more people will be drawn to the AT&T Tilt 2 as Windows Mobile continues to make a resurgence back into the mainstream.
Now, if you own currently own an AT&T Tilt or Fuze, is the Tilt 2 worthy of your hard earned money and two more years of your mobility life to upgrade to? I am very mixed on this issue. Will the Fuze do everything that the Tilt 2 will do? Yes it will. Putting aside the screen, the dual mic and speakers, and larger keyboard, there is very little in the way of improvement other than some better optimization brought forth by Microsoft and HTC. With more innovative devices coming to market from a hardware standpoint like the HTC HD2 (Qualcomm Snapdragon 1 GHz processor and a 4.3 inch WVGA Screen), it seems unlikely that sensible Tilt/Fuze owners would jump at the Tilt 2 when they can wait 6 months for the rumored HTC HD2 to become available. And remember, all of the new software like TF3D 2.1 are already available in Cooked ROMS on XDA and in our Forums from guys like Herg!
I hope that this makes sense and doesn’t confuse what is normally a cut and dry conclusion process. I think that because of the circumstances with the AT&T Tilt 2 and the evolving “enthusiast” market to Windows Mobility that there are different aspects that need to be addressed in my conclusion. You can check out more information on comparing the AT&T Fuze to the Tilt 2 from our very own DavidK:
- Brilliant 3.6” WVGA Screen
- Keyboard is awesome (minor annoyance with “OK” and “?” dedicated buttons)
- Conference call dual microphones and speakers and “mute” button
- Processor, Memory, and Camera not upgraded
- Missing 3.5mm Audio Jack
- Soft Reset buried behind back cover.
Additional Photos comparing the HTC Touch Pro 2 to the AT&T 8525, Tilt, Fuze and HTC HD