What's hot: TouchFLO 3D, large display, wonderful keyboard.
What's not: A bit slippery, AT&T bloatware persists.
Reviewed October 20, 2009 by Lisa Gade, Editor
If the third time's a charm, the fifth time must be a sure fire thing, or so AT&T hopes, as they launch their version after the overseas market and the other 3 major US carriers all released their versions as the HTC Touch Pro2. It turns out there is something to be said for waiting, since AT&T's is currently the only version to ship with Windows Mobile 6.5. While WinMo 6.5 offers little beyond UI tweaks and the new Windows Mobile Marketplace, folks generally prefer getting the latest and greatest OS (unless that OS is Vista). OS upgrades will come to the other carriers' versions, and sooner or laterthey should ship with WinMo 6.5, but for now, AT&T has the edge.
Beyond the OS and the usual carrier customizations, the Tilt 2 is similar to other versions. It features the same 3.6" resistive touch screen running at 800 x 480 resolution with haptic feedback and an accelerometer. It runs HTC's excellent TouchFLO 3D user interface that's prettier, more fun and more finger-friendly than vanilla Windows Mobile. The Tilt 2 has HTC's Straight Talk speakerphone on the back, a large offset hardware QWERTY keyboard, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and a GPS. It runs on the same 528MHz Qualcomm CPU with 288 megs of RAM and 512 megs of flash ROM. What does all this tell you? If you want the Tilt 2/Touch Pro2, go with the carrier you prefer since you can get the same hardware on all four.
AT&T did make a few changes: the keyboard is silver with black masking which looks, shall we say, unharmonious on a mostly black device. The keys are easy to see in good lighting but the masking isn't bold enough in poor lighting, though backlighting helps. AT&T likes a dedicated symbol row, and the Tilt 2 is the only Touch Pro2 family device to have a dedicated symbol row up top rather than a number row. Numbers are embedded in keypad style on the keyboard and require an Fn key press (no need for the Fn key when dialing). The TouchFLO 3D theme is black and blue, and it's far more attractive than the HTC Fuze on AT&T with its dishwater gray and orange that looked like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust on a cloudy day. The Tilt 2 is also faster than the Fuze and AT&T's bloatware has been corralled into manageable and ignorable folders and an AT&T tab (which you can turn off if you like).
If you're a Fuze owner and are wondering if the Tilt 2 is worth the hefty price and contract renewal, we'd say the Tilt 2 is a much improved smartphone. Though the CPU and basic feature sets are the same, the much larger, higher resolution display, TouchFLO 3D evolution and improved speed make it worthwhile. The drawback, aside from price? The Tilt 2 is larger and heavier than the Fuze. It is a large and weighty phone. If pocketability and a touch screen are key for your Windows Mobile experience and you can live without a hardware keyboard, check out the HTC Pure on AT&T. It has the same features as the Tilt 2 and a higher resolution camera, but it's smaller and lighter.
The Tilt 2 comes with AT&T's services including CV streaming video and AT&T Navigator. You must pay $10/month for navigation but streaming video is included with AT&T's now mandatory $30/month smartphone personal unlimited data plan. Bloatware includes Mobile Banking, WikiMobile, My-Cast Weather and a larger selection of trial games. You can't delete them but you can use the File Explorer to remove their shortcuts from the Windows/Start Menu folder so you don't have to see them.
Here's our 10 minute video review of the AT&T HTC Tilt 2. We cover the physical design, Windows Mobile 6.5, device speed, video playback, YouTube, the GPS with Google Maps and more.
Yes, the HTC Tilt 2 on AT&T is an excellent smartphone. We like it just as much as the other carrier versions. It's generally fast and responsive (a reboot every 3 days or so will keep it that way), and the touch screen, though resistive, works very well with finger touch. 3.6" is the starting end of the TouchFLO 3D sweet spot: icons, menu items and scroll lists are easier to use. In contrast, the HTC Pure's 3.2" display sometimes feels just a little too small for optimal finger control. The 800 x 480 resolution (same as the HTC Pure) makes a world of difference when web browsing using Opera, working with MS Office documents and even emails. Yes, it's better than the VGA HTC Fuze. Speaking of the Fuze, the Tilt 2's GPS gets a fix much more quickly and holds onto it more reliably. The Tilt 2 is also faster in general, likely thanks to HTC's optimizations since both use a 528MHz Qualcomm CPU.
The keyboard is large and one of the best on a mobile device, though we're not thrilled with AT&T's choice of light silver keys which look jarring and are less visible in low light. Reception is quite good, voice quality is strong and volume is average. The Straight Talk speakerphone (turn the phone over when in a call and it automatically goes into speakerphone mode) is loud and clear as well as convenient.
The smartphone does a wonderful job of playing video, once a weak point for HTC's business smartphones, and the Tilt 2 makes a good mobile multimedia companion, even if it's less sexy than the iPhone with iTunes store. We're glad that AT&T's home screen tab is hide-able and that their copious bloatware is contained in the apps and games folders, but really, when are they going to cut back on this junk?
Drawbacks? As with the other Touch Pro 2 variants, this is a large and heavy phone. And the price is high, though you do get plenty for your money.
Pro: Large, high resolution touch screen that's easy to control with fingers. HTC's TouchFLO 3D UI just keeps getting better. Excellent speakerphone with HTC's Straight Talk feature. Very good reception and voice quality. The Tilt 2 is responsive and data speeds are good. Comes with Windows Mobile 6.5 vs. 6.1 (for what that's worth).
Con: large, heavy and expensive. A smartphone data plan is mandatory if you purchase the phone with a new contract or contract renewal. The camera is just OK in its class, and abysmal in dark settings since there's no flash.
Price: $299 after $50 mail in rebate with a 2 year contract.
TFT color touch screen with haptic feedback and accelerometer. Screen size diagonally: 3.6". Resolution:
800 x 480, portrait mode with support for landscape mode. Supports TV out with optional cable.
Battery:1500 mAh Lithium
Ion rechargeable. Battery is user replaceable. Claimed talk time: up to 4 hours.
Performance:528MHz Qualcomm MSM7600 processor. 288 megs RAM. 512 megs flash ROM with approx. 200 megs free for storage.
Size:4.56 X 2.33 X 0.68 inches. 6.63 ounces.
Phone: GSM quad band world phone 850/900/1800/1900MHz with 3G on the 850/1900/2100MHz bands for the US on AT&T and Europe/Asia on 2100MHz.
Camera:3.2 megapixel with autofocus lens. 2048 x 1536 max photo resolution. Video resolution up to CIF 352 x 288 resolution. Video capture formats: H.263, 3GPP2 and MPEG4, length limited only by available storage.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm stereo headphone
jack (stereo headset included). Voice Recorder and Windows Mobile Media Player 10 included. Supported audio formats: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A. Straight Talk speaker phone.
WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR with headset, handsfree, serial port, FTP, PAN, phone book access, A2DP and AVRC profiles.
GPS:Yes. AT&T Navigator service pre-installed (subscription service). Works with Google Maps and other GPS and mapping applications.
Mobile 6.5 Professional. TouchFLO 3D user interface. Opera 9.5 mobile web browser, Internet Explorer 6 mobile, MS Voice Command, HTC's photo viewer, YouTube player, Adobe Reader, Comm Manager, WorldCard Mobile, RSS Hub, HTC Streaming Media, Java VM, Jetcet Presenter 5, MS Live Search, Remote Desktop, Internet Sharing, Windows Media Player Mobile, Voice Notes, Teeter. Standard MS mobile software suite: Office Mobile (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote Mobile), Internet Explorer Mobile 6, Email (POP3/IMAP/MS Exchange), File Explorer, PIM suite (contacts, calendar, notes and tasks), SMS/MMS client, BubbleBreaker and Solitaire.
Expansion slot:SDHC microSD card slot under back cover (no need to remove the battery).
In the box:World charger, USB cable and printed manual.