Unihertz Titan first impressions: Big, rugged, long-lasting, QWERTY Android phone

Some BlackBerry Passport fans wanted to see an Android version of the Passport and Unihertz is working to bring one variation on this desire. The Titan is a behomoth of a smartphone that is also likely to do more damage to what you drop it on than the phone itself.

unihertz-titan-2.jpg

Last year I tested the tiny Unihertz Atom and thought there was a decent market for a small, rugged, affordable, and capable Android phone that could serve well as a phone for weekend adventures or field work. It did very on Kickstarter with nearly $1.3 million in pledges.

top picks

The 10 best smartphones right now

It's easy to find a great phone today. In fact, current flagship devices are so good you really don't need to be replacing them every year.

Read More

Unihertz is just launched its next Kickstarter event with the Unihertz Titan. The Titan is a massive phone, you can fit four Atom phones within the same footprint as this new QWERTY beast, but it is also built to take a beating and keep on working.

When I first saw that the Unihertz Titan was coming, I picked up my BlackBerry Passport and thought it would be nice to see an Android version with a level of ruggeddness. I was surprised when the eval prototype unit arrived though as it is 25 mm taller, 7.3 mm thicker, and a whopping 107 grams heavier than the Passport. It was a bit of a shock how much beefier this device is, but at least it has a few modern specs and is very affordable.

See also: Unihertz Atom hands-on: Rugged tiny 4G smartphone keeps you connected in the field for less than $300

Unihertz Titan Specifications

  • Processor: MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core
  • Display: 4.5 inch, 1440 x 1440 pixels resolution LCD
  • Operating system: Android 9 Pie
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal
  • Cameras: 16 megapixel rear and 8 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Water resistance: IP67 water and dust rating
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth 4.1, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou/Galileo, NFC, FM radio
  • FDD/LTE bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/18/19/20/25/26/28A/28B/34/38/39/40/41/66
  • Sensors: Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Compass
  • Battery: 6,000 mAh non-removable with wireless charging capability
  • Dimensions: 153.6 x 92.5 x 16.65 mm and 303 grams

The mid-range MediaTek Helio P60 is a solid processor and it helps that there is plenty of RAM, internal storage, and the latest Android OS powering the Titan.

Hardware first thoughts

While a titan may be someone who is powerful or god-like, synonyms for the word include behemoth, colossus, giant, and heavyweight. The new Unihertz Titan definitely matches these definitions and is the biggest phone I have tried out in years.

I've read hundreds of comments from people online stating they don't care as much about having an ultra-thin phone as having one with long battery life. Unihertz must have taken these comments a bit too literally as the new Unihertz Titan definitely throws out any consideration for thickness with it's massive 6,000 mAh battery inside. You will be able to go days with this phone thanks to the battery, display, and mid-level processor, which might be perfect for field workers or outdoor adventurers who don't mind lugging around a phone that weighs two-thirds of a pound and is thicker than many laptops today.

The Titan has a 4.5 inch 1440 x 1440 pixels resolution square LCD screen that is crisp and clear. I appreciate the width, but the screen definitely felt too short when looking through lists of emails and tasks or viewing home screen widgets.

Below the display is a large physical QWERTY keyboard with keys of different size, shape, and angle, including a unique shaped center space bar. It's a three-row keyboard for the letters with four hardware buttons and a center fingerprint sensor/home screen button set on top of the keyboard. The four keys, from left to right, are used for shift, task manager, back, and a fourth button I have yet to figure out a use for. Thankfully, the keyboard has the same cool capacitive touchpad capability that we see on the BlackBerry KEY2 and other KEY devices where you can scroll through pages by swiping up and down on the keyboard. You also have the option of turning off this touchpad functionality.

Simply start typing on the keyboard to enter Google search with the word you are typing. There is no custom shortcut capability on the keyboard. Pressing the space bar will act as a selection button when an app or item is highlighted.

Above the display is the headset speaker, sensor opening, and front-facing camera. Basic, non-secure face unlock is supported on the Titan. A metal piece, with Unihertz branding, is centered above the display with soft touch matte black material surrounding the sensors and camera.

A USB-C port is on the bottom and interestingly the bottom is angled a bit so there is an edge at the very bottom of the phone. A customizable shortcut button is found just above the middle on the left side with the SIM/microSD card tray above this button. You can customize a short press, long press, and double press action with this button. Three Torx screws are also found on the left side.

Three more Torx screws are found on the right side with the power button just above the middle and a volume button above that. A 3.5mm headset jack is found on the top of the Unihertz Titan.

The 16 megapixel camera is centered along the top of the back, surrounded by another piece of metal material with four screws in the corners. A Unihertz metal plaque is attached near the bottom between openings in the back case. The left opening houses an extremely loud mono speaker that will likely work well for field work. Four more Torx srews are found on the back panel of the Titan so it appears this phone may be quite accessible for the end user if anything ever goes wrong with it.

I've only been using the Titan for about three days so cannot yet comment on the battery life, only to say I charged it to full when it arrived and I'm still left with over 40% remaining.

See also: BlackBerry Key2: A good smartphone that could be great

Software first thoughts

The Unihertz Titan launches with Android 9.0 Pie installed and the 5 July Android security patch so it is running the latest and greatest that Android has to offer at the moment. It's a stock Android experience with Google Discover on the left home page and the default Android widgets available for the home screen. There is no app launcher as all apps installed appear on the home pages.

The physical QWERTY keyboard is managed by Kika-Keyboard software from Kika Tech, Inc. Predictive text appears above the keyboard, on the display, as you enter text. On the lower level of the display, you will see icons for speech-to-text, comma, apostrophe, colin, exclamation point, question mark, period, emoji, more symbols, and numbers as options to tap and enter or expand upon. The physical QWERTY keyboard has no punctuation options, but a press and hold on the keyboard will make a letter capitalized.

When you tap to enter a symbol or number, the viewable part of the display is cut in half as you enter text. A small down arrow to the right will let you quickly shrink the symbol/number selection box.

The only apps installed, beyond the core Google apps, are a music player, sound recorder, FM radio, and basic notebook app. There is no real bloatware present so there are no games, utilities, or carrier options to slow down the phone.

Price and availability

The Kickstarter launch for the Unihertz Titan started this morning. The super early bird price was just $199, but sold out quickly. The next level is $239 with 1,000 units available at that price. $359 is the full suggested retail price. If you can handle a phone with this much size and weight, while also being a major fan of hardware QWERTY keyboards, then it's tough to beat having a very capable phone on hand for just $239.

Summary first impressions

BlackBerry Passport fans have been asking for BlackBerry to release an Android version of this 4.5 inch square screen device for years and now Unihertz has done it. However, Unihertz added in its rugged design language and made the Titan one heck of a beast, which reminds me of a Frankenstein-eque take on the Passport more than a Passport Android successor.

The Unihertz Titan is a very capable rugged phone that will last for days. The $199 super early bird price is tempting for a rugged weekend phone, but it's really too big and heavy for most people to want to use as a daily driver.

It feels like you could throw the Titan across the room and it would still work flawlessly, but I didn't perform that test. With its IP67 dust and water resistant rating, along with its rugged build, the unbreakable advertising applied to the Titan may indeed be true. If you want a QWERTY phone that can take a beating and works as an unlocked GSM phone then you may want to consider backing the project on Kickstarter.