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Mango showdown: Lumia 800 vs HTC Titan

Smartphones based on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 are arriving, with Nokia's Lumia 800 and HTC's Titan are range-topping handsets. Here's how they measure up against each other.
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By Ben Woods, Senior reporter on
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1 of 6 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 800 and HTC Titan side-by-side

For those looking for a new smartphone running Mango, the most recent version of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 OS, there aren't many handsets to choose from right now.

However, two flagship devices for the operating system are now available, with the launch of the Nokia Lumia 800 (shown right) at Nokia World in October and the release of the HTC Titan (shown left, not to be confused with the HTC TyTN).

Given that, this is a good time to pit the two Mango smartphones head-to-head. Read on for a comparison of features, with my conclusions at the end.

There are a lot of similarities between the two. Both have 8-megapixel cameras, both run Windows Phone 7.5 and, as such, both have integrated Microsoft Office for SharePoint, documents and One Note access on the go. Both also have the same level of integration of social-networking services such as Twitter and Facebook.

The HTC Titan is the larger of the two. It has an impressive 4.7-inch super-LCD display, compared with the Lumia 800's curved 3.7-inch Amoled ClearBlack touchscreen. To my eyes, the Nokia screen has the edge for everyday use, as the homescreen and menus look less washed out, thanks to smaller icons.

On the other hand, fans of watching full-length films or TV shows on the phone will find the larger screen of the Titan lends itself more to such tasks. For everyday use, I found the Titan to be a little wider than is comfortable to hold in portrait mode for long periods. This is true when doing common things like writing an email or text message, or making a long phone call.

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Nokia Lumia 800 Design

With the Lumia 800, Nokia has managed to create a smartphone that looks different in design from the general pack of handsets, with its almost convex shape. Its all-rounded edges meet distinctly square ends, the frame topped off with its curved glass display.

Thanks to its smaller overall dimensions, it's easy enough to hold, and while it is not lightweight at 142g, it is manageable. By contrast, the HTC Titan lives up to its name at 160g.

Both handsets respond quickly to screen presses, and I didn't see any lag in opening apps from a fresh start. Occasionally, both needed a second to 'resume' when unlocking the screen into an already running app or game.

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Nokia Lumia Nokia Drive

I also prefer the manufacturer-specific apps on the Lumia, and Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive's turn-by-turn navigation are particularly impressive. The handset also comes with Nokia's Mix Radio service, which lets people to listen to non-user controllable playlists from a number of musical genres for free and without registration.

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HTC pre-installed apps

For its part, the HTC also comes with pre-installed tools. These include HTC Hub, which provides quick access to weather, news and stock market information, all of which can be individually pinned to the homescreen.

The 'connected media' feature on the Titan is handy, as it allows people to connect to local media servers on the same Wi-Fi network as the phone. This gives access to stored items such as music and pictures.

However, I'm not sure I'd find any need for the Locations feature, and while I'm interested in the HTC Watch film-streaming and download options, in my testing only film trailers were available for viewing.

I also tried to sync an unsupported video file to the handset via Microsoft's integrated Zune software. (As there is no drag-and-drop file support, transfers must be done with Zune.) While Zune automatically converted the 350MB .AVI file for playback, it took around 25 minutes to complete the conversion and sync the file, making the whole process rather long if carried out with multiple files.

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5 of 6 Ben Woods/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia versus HTC Titan - camera

Camera performance differed more than I expected between the two phones, with the Titan slightly edging out the Lumia's 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss optics-equipped camera, somewhat against my expectations.

The colours on the Lumia were far cooler than the photos taken at the same time and in the same conditions as with the Titan. Somewhat strangely, during testing I could hear the Titan clicking as it attempted to auto-focus before taking a picture.

The Titan also has a front-facing camera, a feature badly missing from the Lumia 800. This means the Nokia smartphone will not be able to take advantage of Microsoft Office Lync integration when it arrives later in 2011.

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Titan versus Lumia 800 - micro-USB slot

The micro-USB port on the Lumia was a little tricky to access — you need to push quite hard on a little raised part on the top left of the handset. Any time the phone is plugged into a charger or PC, it leaves a flap of plastic just begging to be snapped off.

In addition, the HTC scores an extra point for having a removable rear panel, allowing access to the battery. Owners cannot change the battery in the Nokia Lumia, which does not give access.

After spending at least a week using both phones, my conclusion is there is not very much between the two. Both make the mistake of omitting microSD expansion slots, so internal memory is limited to 16GB for each. They have similar external hardware controls, with a dedicated camera shutter button and volume rockers.

Neither have near-field communications (NFC), which is a disappointment given Nokia's use of the contactless technology in Symbian Belle handsets, but the Microsoft OS does not support it. Neither have support for connecting to a larger external screen, either.

So which handset came out on top? Ultimately, it's the Nokia Lumia 800 that I reach for more often before I walk out the door.

 In its favour, it has support for the same files and features as the Titan, with the addition of the excellent Nokia Maps, Drive and Mix Radio services. While video playback or photo slideshows on its smaller screen may not be as impressive as on the Titan's, I can live with that compromise for being easier to use at most other times.

Is it perfect? No, but the Lumia 800's more manageable size and distinctive design make it a more interesting and usable phone.

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