Nokia Lumia 900 or HTC Titan II, is one better than the other?

So which Windows Phone is better? The Nokia Lumia 900 or the HTC Titan II?

The Lumia 900 definitely hit the AT&T store shelves with a bang while the Titan II kinda snuck in under the radar. I've used both over the past few days and I will say this without reservation. There's not a bad choice between the two.

Okay... so that may be fence straddling but the differences between these two phones boils down to individual needs and personal preferences. Do you need a "knock your socks off" camera? Go with the Titan II. Do you prefer a screen with richer colors and more contrast?  Go with the Lumia 900. Are you looking for a splash of color for your Windows Phone other than plain old gray or black? Choose the Lumia 900. Are you wanting more real estate in your screen? Obviously the Titan II would be your choice.

These two new Windows Phone are so closely matched the difference may come down to which fits the best in your hand (and that's no easy measure either). We'll try to break things down a little better after the break to give you a fighting chance at deciding which is best.

Lumia 900 vs. Titan II: Design

Here's the tell of the tape between these two Windows Phones.

The size and weight of these two phones are so close there's really no clear distinction.  While both feel good in the hand and have a uni-body style, the two designs differ somewhat.

Nokia Lumia 900

The Lumia 900 is more of a flat body with rounded edges. The buttons are smooth and are limited to the right side of the phone. The matte, polycarbonate body feels smooth, compact and nice in your hand. The micro-USB port is nestled away in an easy to get to position, at the top of the Windows Phone.

HTC Titan II right side

The Titan II has a soft rubber finish that also feels nice in the hand. The uni-body design of the Titan isn't as flat as the Lumia 900 with rises for the camera and headphone jack. The edges are contoured just enough to help mask the Titan II's size to make it feel nice in the hand. The buttons are spread across the right side and on the top of the Titan II. The volume and camera buttons are textured to give them a distinguish feel.

Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II left side

Two observations on the buttons/micro-USB port with these two Windows Phones. I'm not a fan of the power button being half-way down the side of the Lumia 900 or the micro-USB port being on the side of the Titan II. Reason being, if you use a car cradle with regularity, the clamping arms on the cradle will block these two features. Now I can snake a car charger through the arms on my car cradle with the Titan II but I can't access the power button on the Lumia 900.  Personally, I like the power button in the upper corner of the right side. Much like the placement on the Samsung Focus.

Here are a few more observations on the design of the Titan II and Lumia 900.

  • The HTC Titan II has the LED indicator that alerts you on missed calls, voice mail and charging status.
  • While the capacitive buttons on both the Titan II and Lumia 900 light up, the Lumia 900's buttons will eventually fade to black.  The Titan II's buttons stay lit while the phone is in use.
  • The Lumia 900 has the speaker at the bottom of the phone while the Titan II has the speaker on the back.  The placement may not sound like a big deal but when the Lumia 900 is laying on it's back, the speaker isn't muffled the way it is on the Titan II.

Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II top

With regards to size, these two Windows Phones so close the differences really don't matter. While fit and feel are more subjective tests, but both feel good in the hand. Which feels better? Coin toss in our opinion.  The design differences are really a subjective test.  We'll call it a coin toss as well but lean towards the Titan II for the LED, illuminated capacitive buttons and better grease resistance.

Lumia 900 vs. Titan II: Screen Quality

In a nutshell, you won't be disappointed with either of these two Windows Phone screens. The two Windows Phones approach things differently but do so very well.

Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II

The HTC Titan II has a 4.7" Super LCD screen that has bright colors that many may feel look more natural.

The Lumia 900 has a 4.3" AMOLED screen that utilizes ClearBlack technology. Compared to the Super LCD screen of the Titan II, the Lumia 900's screen has richer colors and more contrast. Blacks are blacker, reds are redder, greens are greener, and so on.

Both Windows Phones use Corning's Gorilla Glass and both Windows Phones are very responsive to the touch. The Lumia 900 has a flat screen while the Titan II's screen curves ever so slightly outwards when it hits the capacitive touch button region.  We did notice the Lumia 900's screen is some what of a grease/smudge magnet.  We spent far less time wiping down the Titan II than we did the Lumia 900.

It's a tough call as to which of these Windows Phones has the better screen. Overall, I'll give the edge to the Lumia 900 because the colors have a touch more pop to them. However, we would have to give the edge for outdoor viewing to the Titan II though.

Lumia 900 vs. Titan II: Camera

Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II

This is one feature where one of these two Windows Phones is the clear winner without any doubts. The Titan II is fitted with a 16mp, 28mm f2.2 BSI Sensor camera. The Lumia 900 is fitted with an 8mp, 22mm f2.2 Carl Zeiss lens camera. The two cameras should be closely matched but the Titan II has a clear advantage over the Lumia 900.  Note: Sample images present have only been edited with respect to size.

The Lumia 900's camera just under achieves. On paper the Carl Zeiss lens and fast aperture should perform better than it does. To give credit where credit is due, the Lumia 900 does preform nicely outdoors when the lighting is just right. Indoors and when the lighting dims outside is where the Lumia 900's camera begins to fade. I also experienced a little inconsistency with regards to saturation, exposure and focus. Hopefully these issues are software related and can be addressed with an update from Nokia. Otherwise, the Lumia 900's camera won't reach its potential.

HTC has been criticized heavily for poor camera quality in the past and nailed it with the Titan II's camera. Between the higher resolution, backlit sensor, and improved software you may have to go to a DSLR/High end point and shoot camera to beat it.

Color saturation was nice, images were nice and sharp, and the BSI sensor really makes the difference when shooting in low light.  Images from the Titan II also seem to be warmer than the Lumia 900.  I was seeing more blue color casts on the Lumia 900 than I did with the Titan II.

Titan II and Lumia 900 camera software

HTC also beefed up the software on the Titan II to improve your photographic experience.  All in all, the changes HTC has made to the software really makes the Lumia 900 pale in comparison.  You have eighteen scenes, smile detection, image stabilization, panorama and burst modes, ten effects, and red eye reduction.  Oh, you also have the intelligent auto setting on the Titan II that does a pretty good job of choosing which scene is the best for what your photographing.

Nokia does have a 7mp 16:9 ratio which gives your photos a nice wide angle view but beyond that, the settings are rather vanilla when compared to the Titan II.

Unfortunately, the differences are evident in the video quality of these two Windows Phone. The HTC provides the best video quality between the two with the Nokia showing a bit of haze in the video.

All is not lost with the Lumia 900 with respect to the cameras.  The front facing camera on the Lumia 900 performs a bit better than the front facing camera on the Titan II.

The Lumia 900 has a decent camera that'll do in a jam but if the deciding factor is the camera, you better go with the Titan II.  HTC has done a fantastic job of improving not only the physical camera but also the software.  The Titan II easily has the better rear camera but the Lumia 900's front facing camera may be the winner.

Lumia 900 vs. Titan II: Software

Nokia Collection and HTC Apps

Both the Lumia 900 and Titan II come loaded with the latest version of Windows Phone. In this respect, it's a draw between these two Windows Phones.

Where the Nokia begins to distance itself from the HTC is with the exclusive software apps. HTC has a decent selection of HTC apps ranging from the Sound Enhancer to Locations but you also have the lack luster flashlight, calculator and love apps.

The Lumia 900 has the Creative Studio, ESPN, CNN, Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and exclusive EA Sports titles that will eventually become available.

The Nokia Collection just has more beef to it than the HTC Apps. While you can find suitable alternatives in the Windows Phone Marketplace to use with the Titan II (e.g. Garmin Streetpilot vs. Nokia Drive) it may cost you where the Nokia Collection is included in the price of admission.

Asides from the exclusive apps for each of these Windows Phones, here are a few more observations on the software of these two Windows Phones.

  • The Titan II has SRS Enhancements to give audio and video playback a boost plus the Attentive Phone settings that can quiet the ring on pickup, increase the ringer when the Titan II is in the pocket, activate the speaker when the Titan II is flipped over and mute the ringer when you flip the Titan II over.
  • Both the Titan II and the Lumia 900 have a healthy selection of ringtones.  The Titan II has a total of 105 ringtones and the Lumia 900 has 63 ringtones.  Both have the AT&T tones and the Lumia 900 has the classic Nokia Tune (plus the remix).

Connectivity Issues

With regards to phone reception, we saw no differences between the Titan II and the Lumia 900.  When there was three bars on the Titan II, there were three bars on the Lumia 900.  Granted there are other variables that go into reception, like the number of towers in the area, but we'll call phone reception a draw with these two Windows Phones.

Where we did see a difference in reception with these two Windows Phones was with data connectivity (we've also heard it from readers).  There's an issue with the Lumia 900 where you will loose data connectivity from time to time.  Best we can tell it's an issue with the micro-SIM card (new technology being ironed out and such) but the data connectivity issues are not present on the Titan II.  Luckily, the times we have experienced the lost data connection re-booting the Lumia 900 fixed things.

While connectivity issues are present with the Lumia 900, Nokia is already prepping a software fix for distribution that will fix things.  Look for the fix to be distributed on or around April 16, 2012.  As an added bonus, Nokia will credit the AT&T accounts of customers $100 for any inconveniences this data disconnect has caused.  While the data disconnects have been a pain for some, it's nice to see Nokia taking an aggressive position to fix the problem and make things right for Lumia 900 customers.

Other odds and ends

HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900

Here are a few more things to consider when deciding which of these two Windows Phones is for you.

  • The Nokia Lumia 900 uses a micro-SIM card where the Titan II uses the full-size SIM card. If you change Windows Phones frequently, this may be an issue or you can get a SIM card adapter (which may not be ideal).
  • If you like to have color choices, the Lumia 900 comes in black, cyan and white (due on April 22nd). Additionally, you have colored sleeves and bumpers you can add to the Lumia 900. The Titan II only comes in gray.
  • Neither the Titan II or the Lumia 900 have removable batteries. The Titan II has a 1730mAH battery while the Lumia 900 has an 1830mAh battery. Both batteries will get you through the day but in using both these phones over the past few days, the extra 100mAH really don't make much of a difference.
  • Both the Titan II and Lumia 900 are fitted with 16gb of storage and 512mb of RAM. The Titan II does have a 1.5GHz processor and the Lumia 900 a 1.4GHz processor. The .1 difference is not noticeable at all.
  • I'm going to give the nod to the Lumia 900 with regards to quality (both ear and bottom speaker). These tiny little speakers on the Lumia 900 can really belt out the volume.  Call quality on the Titan II is nice but it is as if the Lumia 900's volume scale is really based on 35 steps instead of 30.
  • Okay...I'm a stickler for the vibrating alert. The Nokia has a more noticeable vibrating alert than the HTC but the Nokia also has an annoying rattle about it. As if the vibrator isn't bolted down securely. I think I'll take the fainter vibration over the rattle.
  • Nokia hit the ground running with respect to accessories for the Lumia 900.  You have bumpers, skins and cases available at launch where it may take some time for the Titan II to see specific accessories become available. 

Lumia 900 vs. Titan II: Which is the best?

We have long held the position that, with few exceptions, there really isn't a bad Windows Phone in the bunch. The secret is finding which Windows Phone matches your needs and tastes the best.

The challenge with the Titan II and Lumia 900 is deciding which of these two quality Windows Phones fits your needs and tastes the best. For some this can be tough call to make.

If you use your Windows Phone camera a lot, the Titan II has a clear advantage. If you prefer more deeper colors and more contrast to your screen then the Lumia 900 has an advantage. If you want larger tiles and a brighter screen, enter the Titan II. Beyond those three characteristics, it's really tough choosing one of these Windows Phones.

There is one factor that we shouldn't over look. In this day and age, you really can't ignore the economics. Through AT&T, after contractual discounts, the Lumia 900 will cost you $99. The HTC Titan II is running $199. You can probably find better pricing through third party retailers but more than likely the HTC will cost you more than the Nokia.

Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan II from AT&T

So if I must get down off the fence, I'd have to get down on the Titan II's side. I was really impressed with the improvements HTC has made not only to the design but the performance of the Titan series. Plus the camera is really, really nice. Having said that, if you disagree and feel the Lumia 900 is the Windows Phone for you, you are not making a bad choice.

Feel free to sound off in the comments which you prefer. Is there a factor that we've missed that should be considered?  Let us know which choice you made and why.

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.