Three years ago I tried out the massive Unihertz Titan smartphone with a very large physical QWERTY keyboard. I loved the BlackBerry Passport, but the Titan was just too large for me to carry daily and use it to get work done regularly.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been carrying an early prototype of the Unihertz Titan Pocket, a significantly smaller version of the Titan that still has a physical QWERTY keyboard and rugged design. It's available on Kickstarter for another couple of weeks for $221 or $399 for two of them, with plans to ship the phone in September 2021.
The Titan Pocket is the sixth phone launched on Kickstarter by Unihertz and I've had the opportunity to test out the last five. The phones are affordably priced, even outside of the Kickstarter special offers, and target niche segments of the smartphone market. Each one has far exceeded the modest Kickstarter goals and with the Titan Pocket we see there is already more than 3,000 backers with pledges almost reaching $700,000 (at the time of publishing this article).
- Processor: MediaTek Helio P70
- Display: 3.1-inches 716x720 pixels resolution TFT LCD, Gorilla Glass
- Operating system: Android 11
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128GB internal storage with microSD support
- Cameras: 16-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front-facing camera
- Wireless technology: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS/BEIDOU/GLONASS, FM radio, infrared
- Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, barometer, and compass
- Battery: 4,000mAh non-removable
- Dimensions: 132.5 x 73.2 x 16.8mm and 216 grams
The Unihertz Titan Pocket reminds me of a thick BlackBerry Bold with its small physical QWERTY keyboard and square display. The QWERTY keyboard is clearly a focus of this new phone and it has a few good features, but also a few annoyances. There are four rows present on the keyboard with the top row for shift, symbol, and other Android control keys.
The central fingerprint sensor is great, there is good tactile feel to the keyboard, you can swipe up and down on the keyboard to scroll through long pages of text and data, and you can create custom shortcuts across all the keys for apps and other functions. I'm not a fan of the far upper left shift key or the tiny space bar, but overall the keyboard is quite capable.
Starting at the front, we have the 3.1-inch LCD screen, which is quite small in today's world of big phones. My aging eyes struggle to see some of the fonts on the display and it's just too small for this 52-year old. The colors look great on the display and it's bright enough for any lighting condition. The square layout provides a limited amount of data, such as 3.5 emails in Gmail on one screen.
The headset speaker and front-facing 8MP camera are above the display. A standard 3.5mm headset jack is found on the top next to an IR port. There is software included on the phone so you can manipulate remote controls for various electronic products. The USB-C port is on the bottom of the phone.
The volume buttons are is positioned on the upper left side with the microSD/SIM card tray below these two buttons. A power button and customizable red key are located on the upper right side. There is a utility to custom a press and a press and hold of this button.
The mono speaker fires out of the lower back, adjacent to the aluminum back panel. The 16-megapixel camera is found centered at the top of the back with a flash to the right of the camera.
The cameras performed fine with timelapse, video, photo, and manual modes available. There is no portrait mode support and the photos don't have advanced creative elements. The phone is not designed for stunning photography, but when you are out and about it will help you capture your surroundings.
The Unihertz Titan Pocket launches with Android 11 out of the box and the prototype I tested has an April 5, 2021, Android security update installed. Buy the phone with the software it launches with since I haven't seen extensive updates provided by Unihertz and it's best not to count on updates that are unlikely to come at a later date.
The phone runs a fairly stock version of Android. The Google Discover page is available when you swipe all the way from left to right to the first panel, much like a Pixel phone.
In addition to the Google basics such as calculator, calendar, camera, Chrome, Gmail, Maps, Messages, and more, you get a few apps from Unihertz. These include a file manager, FM radio, IR remote control app, music player, NoteBook, sound recorder, and Toolbox.
The Toolbox is full of useful utilities that enhance the functionality of the phone. The tools in the Toolbox include a sound meter, compass, flashlight, bubble level, picture hanger tool, heart rate monitor, height measuring utility, magnifier, pedometer, speedometer, alarm, plumb bob, and protractor. It's cool to see the camera used with some of these tools to provide an augmented reality experience that provides you with a device for accurate measurements.
The home screen supports common app widgets too so you can customize your Android experience. The Quick Controls section from the notification shade can also be customized to your personal preferences.
Initial usage experiences
The Unihertz Titan Pocket may appeal to serious BlackBerry Curve or Bold fans who want a similar form factor with modern Android. It's a very well constructed phone with some level of drop protection, not specified, but no level of dust or water resistance. Even though it feels like a tank, don't take it out in heavy rain or drop it in a puddle. The larger Titan did have an IP67 rating and I almost took the Titan Pocket into the river fly fishing with me last week before I checked on the specs.
Overall, the keyboard is well done with good spacing and tactile performance. The ability to swipe up and down the keyboard, like a mouse pad, and also create a vast number of shortcuts with the keys can be great for efficiency and productivity.
The Titan Pocket is built to get work done and is not a gaming or multimedia machine. Videos play well and music sounds good from the rear speaker, but work comes first on this phone. Speaking of work, the small display is the primary reason I cannot use this phone as my daily driver. Maybe 20 years ago when my eyes were much better, but not today.
I need to spend more time with it to test the battery, but 4000 mAh on a phone of this size has so far shown to last at least a couple of days without charging. The cameras on the phone are not that great so don't count on capturing any award winning shots with the Titan Pocket.
If you enjoy QWERTY keyboards and spend a lot of time messaging people then you may enjoy the Titan Pocket. Even though it is a smaller phone, the thickness and weight still make two-handed use the best approach to using the phone.