HTC Tilt2 in tilt mode

I really like it when my upgrade time rolls around for my cell phone plan and equipment. Just prior to that date I start my research and take a look at the latest models that are out there and available from my carrier (AT&T).

Now since I am with AT&T I have been looking at the iPhone as a possible option.  I was recently on a trip with friends and I had the opportunity to sit in the backseat of a car and use the iPhone and explore it. I like a lot of things about it. The interface, the quality and clarity of the screen was unreal.  The application store is a superb implementation and the breadth of programs being made for the iPhone is unmatched at the moment. I mean they just went over 3 billion downloads recently and they have over 100,000 apps available. All of this has happened in the last 18 months. So it certainly seemed to have a lot going for it.

However, I hesitated on the iPhone because it would mean leaving Windows Mobile behind.  My last two smart phones have been the AT&T Samsung Blackjack I and II. I have been using them for almost 3 years and have no complaints about them at all. Very decent screens, QWERTY keyboards were very functional and I had all of my Windows Mobile compatibility at my fingertips.

So it seemed logical that I could move on up to the Samsung Blackjack Jack and maintain my familiarity with the phone or possible move towards the iPhone.  I tried the Samsung Jack out but they squeezed the keys closer together and it is actually harder to type on them then the Blackjack I and II.  I still hesitated about the iPhone as well because it would mean leaving behind my Windows compatibility that I like so much in my smart phone. I did want touch screen as well after getting my wife her first touch screen phone a couple of months ago. That was something else the iPhone had and the Samsung Jack did not.

So while doing all this back and forth the HTC Tilt2 came into the scene and was released by AT&T. It seemed to have a lot of what I was looking for. So I headed out to the AT&T store on my upgrade date of 04 Jan 2010 after reading reviews and websites and even asking on Twitter for opinions on each phone. The last clincher would be holding the phone in my hand and seeing if the Tilt2 would come home with me.

As you can see by the pictures I did upgrade to the HTC Tilt2. After a couple of days using it I have some observations which I will list below to share and maybe help others who might be in the middle of the same decision I was a couple of days ago.

  • Size/Weight: Heavier than my Blackjack II but fits in the same Body Glove carrying case I have been using. Feels very solid in my hands. It is actually just slightly smaller width wise than the BJII and slides easier into the case than the BJII did.
  • Screen: To me just as brilliant and clear as the iPhone. The colors jump out at you and all of the edges are sharp. Nothing appears blurred at all – graphics, text, etc.
  • OS: It comes with Windows Mobile 6.5 already installed. No need to find or wait for an upgrade from Windows Mobile 6.1.  It also uses the HTC TouchFLO 3D interface to interact with the phone via the screen.  I have found the phone responsive to my gestures and the screw ups have been my fault as I learn my way around it.
  • Battery Life: What I can report after day 1 is that I used up about 50% of the battery throughout the course of my work day. That may not be indicative because I tend to overuse a new phone as I learn about it and explore settings, programs, etc. So far so good though – more to follow I am sure.
  • Windows 7 Compatible: I run Windows 7 64 Bit Ultimate on my desktop computer at home and the phone interfaces with it via the Windows Mobile Device Center without issue. The first time I plugged the phone in via its USB cable it installed some basic drivers and then the system prompted me to install Windows Mobile Device Center Version 6.1. After the install was complete the software setup wizard took me through creating a partnership between the phone and desktop for synching. Once installed the phone shows up in Windows Explorer and you can browse the phones system memory and any external card you may have plugged in. The Tilt2 has a Micro SD card slot which you access by taking the back cover off and sliding the card in the slot on the right side of the back.
  • Physical and Screen Keyboards: Both work as advertised and the mechanism to slide the phones screen away from the keyboard and to tilt the screen feels very solid.  The on screen keyboard works very well and you can turn on and off a tactile response to typing – personally I like this. The physical keyboard is huge and actually takes some getting used to after using the BJII’s for two years.
  • Updates: There are two updates to the HTC Tilt2 which you need to download and install.  Both were released on 17 Dec 2009 and can be downloaded from the HTC Tilt2 Product Support website. These are not ROM updates so they do not clear your data but they do survive a hard reset and only have to be installed one time.
    • Hotfix: Inconsistent Caller ID function on the HTC Tilt 2
    • Hotfix: Hotfix: TILT 2 Freezes in SMS application
  • Finger Prints: Much like my ASUS Eee PC 1000HE, this thing is a finger print magnet. From the touch screen itself to the chrome bezel around the front and the battery cover. I have not experienced any interference between finger prints and functionality though :-)
  • Windows Market Place: This is to Windows Mobile Phones as the App Store is to Apple’s iPhone. It does not have near the number of applications in it that the App Store does but I am sure it will grow over time.  There does seem to be a wide variance in the price of applications though and I am sure that will settle down as authors realize they may be asking too much for their offerings. Speaking of applications – here is what I have already grabbed and installed on the Tilt2:
    • Twikini – I have used this on my Blackjack II since the program came out. Using it on a touch enabled phone is a real joy and I can now see how it was built for touch.
    • AP Mobile – Provides quick access to the latest World, National and Local news stories in several categories. Although you can move the tabs around to prioritize what you see first I wish there was a way to remove the tabs I have no interest in. If you happen to know a way to do that please let me know.
    • Facebook: A slick mobile interface to keep your family and friends updated.
    • YouTube Mobile: Now this application is not available in the Windows Mobile Marketplace. It actually resides on your HTC Tilt2 phone buried deep in the Windows directory. I just created a shortcut to the application in my Programs directory and then added it to the TouchFLO 3D Programs listing. The phone easily handles high quality versions of the videos and shows them in full screen.
    • Microsoft My Phone: I have been using this since it was in beta and provided a review when it was released back in October 2009.  Here is why this was the first thing I installed after getting the phone. Just prior to heading into the store I did a sync with Microsoft My Phone and my BJII so everything on the phone was archived to the cloud.  Afterwards I installed Microsoft My Phone on the Tilt2 and ran a sync and all of my contacts, photos, and text messages were back on my new phone. If only it could back up my email accounts and restore them :-)
    • Windows Live for Windows Phone: This gives me access to Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail, Photos and my What’s New feed. It includes Bing search as well.

I have barely scratched the surface of this phone and its capabilities and I am sure I will get more involved and familiar with it as I go. However, a little more than 36 hours after making the choice – I am very pleased.

Hope this helps you out along your path towards a phone.