Motorola Titanium: Great battery life, not much else
The Motorola Titanium is a push-to-talk (PTT) Android phone geared toward foremen and other "grey collar" workers. Though the phone is targeted at a specific, accommodating niche user, they would not be satisfied with the slow data speeds and clunky performance of the Titanium.
Priced at $150 (with a new two-year contract on Sprint), the Titanium looks like a steal for anyone looking for a rugged smartphone. The device looks very similar in design to the Motorola Droid Pro and XPRT, though the Titanium doesn't feel as solid as its business class cousins. This is particularly odd when you consider that the Titanium meets military specifications for dust, shock, and extreme temperatures. Unlike Motorola's other rugged offering, the Defy, the Titanium is not waterproof -- although it does sport a 4mm thick Gorilla glass display for added screen durability.
The Titanium is also one of the few Android devices to sport physical "Call" and "End" buttons. The physical keyboard is a nice touch, though I found it a bit too cramped for my hands. Considering this is a phone geared towards people who work in places like construction sites, you'd think that the keys would be spaced out a little more to accommodate larger fingers and hands. The 320-by-480 resolution 3.1-inch TFT display is the furthest thing from eye candy. Colors are dull and images are not sharp and were a little blurry.
The Motorola Titanium runs on Android 2.1 (Éclair). That means you won't have access to Flash content, or any of the browser or system improvements found in Android 2.2. When I asked Motorola why the phone runs a comparatively outdated version of the OS, the answer was that 2.1 was necessary for the PTT functionality of the device. Whether that means that the Titanium will ever be updated to 2.2 remains to be seen, though I wouldn't particularly count on it.
MotoBlur is not present on the device, though the dock and several widgets are. Other than Nascar, Telenav GPS Navigator, and Sprint Football Live, there is little preinstalled software on the phone.
Being a push-to-talk phone, the Titanium uses Sprint's iDEN network. While calls on the Titanium came through crystal clear, you'd better not plan to use this phone to surf the Internet. That's because the Titanium gets speeds around those of 1X. You can do basic things like update your Twitter status or look up something on Google, but if you want to watch videos on YouTube or download applications, you'll have to connect to Wi-Fi in order to avoid getting network errors.
I tested out the PTT functionality with several people and can happily say that it is the Titanium's biggest strength. The speaker was nice and loud (though a little jarring at times), and it was dead easy to relay messages back and forth.
The Titanium comes with a monster (1800 mAh) battery that can go for the better part of a day before the phone needs to be plugged in to charge. Let's hope Motorola will continue to include large capacity batteries in its future devices as well.
Something I noticed in my time with the Titanium is that scrolling through homepages feels clunky, and overall the phone seemed to just chug along. As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't expect to do anything more than basic tasks like checking email on this phone.
The Titanium comes with a 2GB microSD card that can be used for storing music and photos, though the phone definitely wasn't built for media in mind. Videos taken on the Titanium's 5-megapixel camera looked horrible and audio sound garbled during playback. Photos fared a lot better, though they could have been a little sharper. The Titanium does an average job at playing back music, though it's doubtful it will replace your standalone media player.
What is the point of having a smartphone if you cannot even download apps to it while out on the go? If you are looking for just a push-to-talk phone, you're probably better off just getting a feature phone (like the Motorola Brute). The battery life will be better, chances are it'll be able to take more abuse, and the phone will probably be faster overall.
[Armando Rodriguez is a PCWorld staff editor.]