Cell phone carriers just love to do this to you: release 2 phones at the same price, running the same OS with awfully similar specs. You're left to stare at two phones wearing angry security leashes, or worse yet, dummy phones at the store, trying to decide. Case in point: the Samsung Focus S vs. the HTC Titan on ATT. Some of you have it easy: you adore Samsung or think the world of HTC smartphones, but we're here to help the rest of you decide.
Both the HTC Titan and the Samsung Focus S sell for $199 with contract and they run Window Phone 7.5 Mango. They're second generation Windows Phones with 8 megapixel rear cameras and front 1.3 megapixel cameras, as well as the usual WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR and a GPS. They run on the same second generation single core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs, clocked at 1.4GHz (Focus S) and 1.5GHz (Titan). Their battery capacity varies by only 50 mAh. So what's the difference? Let's see.
This is the biggest (no pun intended) decision point for many of you. While both phones have the same 800 x 480 resolution (Windows Phone's standard resolution), the Titan earns its name with its supremely large 4.7" screen. The Samsung Focus S has a respectable 4.3" display, but it doesn't have the same presence when watching videos or viewing photos. Those of you who've reached the bifocal age might also appreciate the Titan's larger fonts and images. Window Phone's sharply rendered typography and Metro UI colored tiles really come into their own on a huge display.
The Samsung fights back with a Super AMOLED Plus display for hyper-vivid colors and deep blacks thanks to its high contrast. But HTC didn't skimp on display quality as they did with the HD7S, and the Titan's Super LCD is almost as vivid while having a more neutral color bias and good brightness. If you look closely, you will see font jaggies in web browser fonts since the display ppi is relatively low on a 4.7" display, but it's well controlled elsewhere.
Winner: HTC Titan
Don't spend too much time worrying about this one. Both smartphones run on the same Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 graphics. The Titan is clocked 100MHz higher, and you won't notice it. Windows Phones run fast on 1GHz first generation CPUs, and the Titan and Focus S' CPUs are icing on the cake for 3D XBOX Live games and HD video playback. Both have 512 megs of RAM (again, requisite for WP7) and have 16 gigs of storage. The Samsung has a gig more available for your use though (13 vs. 14 gigs).
Data and Calling
Both phones run on AT&T's "4G" HSPA+ 14.4Mbps network and in our tests in the Dallas area, achieved similar download and upload speeds. They both load websites equally quickly and download apps and files with similar speeds. The Samsung Focus S pulls ahead for call quality with remarkably good call quality on both ends and good earpiece volume. Voice sounds full, clear and natural. The HTC Titan isn't a bad voice phone, but as with the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket vs. HTC Vivid Android phones on AT&T, we noted a digitized quality to voice on both ends that reduces call clarity a wee bit on the HTC.
Both phones have the mobile hotspot feature so you can share your data connection with tablets, laptops and more.
Winner: Samsung Focus S
Build Quality and Design
HTC's at it again with their liberal use of metals, elegant complex curves and excellent in-hand (despite the phone's large size) ergonomics. The HTC Titan has an aluminum casing that's relatively light and ever so durable and classy. It weighs a little over 1.5 ounces more than the 3.9 ounce Samsung, but it's no heavy weight for a 4.7" phone. The back cover comes off to reveal a completely naked phone, like the HTC Sensation 4G and HTC Amaze 4G. The antenna is located in the back cover, so make sure you press it in place or you'll get a weak 4G and WiFi signal.
The Samsung Focus S is a near dead ringer for the Samsung Galaxy S II. It's nice looking but plasticky and the back door is paper thin. It's skinny and slippery on the sides as well, making it easier to drop.
Winner: HTC Titan
This is a close one. Both have 8MP cameras that take very good photos and 720p video. We give the Focus S points for low light colors and the HTC Titan points for better bright outdoor exposure. But the Titan pulls ahead with its panorama and burst mode shot options.
Winner: HTC Titan
So that's our comparison smackdown between two high end Windows Phones on AT&T. Honestly, you won't go wrong with either one, even if we give the HTC Titan the win for two important features; display and build quality.