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Cherry Mobile Titan TV S320 Review

cherry-mobile-titan-tv-s320-review

How big is too big?

Part of the Android trend to differentiate itself from the iPhone has been to increase screen size. Flagship phones have been growing in size since, with the 4.3" HTC Evo in 2010 considered to be gigantic at the time. Fast forward to 2013 and 4.0" is considered tiny, 4.7" somewhat medium sized, and 5.5" large. Anything lower than 4.0" these days is reserved for the lowest-end smartphones, foot soldiers of the Android realm slowly pushing and creeping to wipe feature phones/dumbphones off the face of the Earth.

Unfortunately, while screen sizes are increasing, our human hands remain the same. Given this, there's a threshold. Apparently, Cherry Mobile's efforts in continuing the onslaught against their competitors isn't over. In a race to the biggest, Cherry Mobile has decided to pull out all stops and release the 5.9" Titan TV (they officially state it as 6.0", most likely for marketing purposes). The Titan TV's dimensions are 166 x 91 x 10.5 mm. In comparison, the largest most widely available phone as of this writing, the Samsung Galaxy Note II, measures only 151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm. It's 15 mm taller and 10.5 mm wider than the Note II.

Again, the Titan TV has been another surprise release, most likely to avoid the incident with the Omega. Cherry Mobile may not have promised anything with the Titan TV, but it turns out the Titan TV has plenty up its sleeve. The only question is: can your hands handle it?

Note that the Vsun i1 is the OEM of the Titan TV.

Design and Build Quality

If anything, the Titan TV looks like a giant Cherry Mobile Flare with a wider bezel. The look of the Titan TV is more toy-like compared to the Titan and Cruize due to the lack of accents. Unlike the Flare and Titan though, the Titan TV's side isn't flat and is curved like the Cruize for a more comfortable grip. Like the Flare and Cruize, the Titan TV's removable back plate also contains the volume and power buttons. The Titan TV technically comes in two colors, black and white. However, only the color of the back plate will actually differ. For this review, I bought the white variant. Also note that the color of the leather cover in the box will be the same as your back plate.

The front of the Titan TV is spartan. The top left portion of the front contains the proximity and light sensors while the top right contains the front facing camera. The bottom contains backlit softkeys corresponding to, from left to right: options/menu, home, back, search. The back of the phone contains the main camera, single LED flash, secondary mic for noise cancellation and two speakers. The upper left side of the phone contains the volume up and down button while the upper right side contains the power button. The top side of the phone contains the 3.5 mm jack while the bottom side contains the micro USB port and main mic.

The Titan TV may look toy-like from the onset, but make no mistake, the build quality is very good. The construction of the Titan TV is all glossy plastic, but the plastic doesn't feel thin or soft. The Titan TV is also pretty heavy at 280 grams. Good thing is, the weight is very evenly distributed and it feels as if there are no hollow portions of the device. Holding it for the first time gives that feel of sturdiness and heft that is not common these days. The volume and power buttons also have a tactile but soft feel that doesn't feel flimsy or cheap.

It also comes with a leather cover with a magnetic latch. The cover only attaches itself to the phone via a reusable sticky pad, making removing and attaching the phone to match the slots a bit bothersome. The leather cover can also be used as a makeshift stand.

As usual, don't abuse it and it'll last you a while. The phone also comes attached with a matte screen protector out of the box.

Here is the checklist of what comes inside the box:

  • 1x Cherry Mobile Titan TV S320
  • 1x Leather cover
  • 1x Stylus/antenna
  • 1x Earphones
  • 1x USB cable
  • 1x CM-1000 Wall charger
  • 1x User's manual
  • 1x Warranty card
  • 1x 2500 mAh battery

Size comparison

First thing you'd most likely ask is: Will it fit my hand? Will it fit inside my pocket? Is it difficult to handle? That depends. It depends on the size of your hands, how you handle your phone, the size of your pockets, etc. To keep it simple, I here are several pictures to put things into perspective.

Screen

The Titan TV is equipped with a higher quality TN panel, similar to the Flare. The 5.9" WVGA (800x480) screen has 3 good viewing angles, with only the top angle suffering from the posturization effect. The left and right side angles maintain contrast levels while the bottom side angle loses a bit of contrast, which is expected as the bad viewing angles from a TN panel are usually vertical, not horizontal. As usual, TN panels have very fast response times, so fast paced action scenes and scrolling animations are easy on the eyes.

Here are some shots of the Titan TV's screen demonstrating the aforementioned viewing angles:

Upfront

Upfront

Right side viewing angle

Right side viewing angle

Left side viewing angle

Left side viewing angle

Bottom side viewing angle

Bottom side viewing angle

Top side viewing angle

Top side viewing angle

Despite being a TN panel, the panel itself is of good quality. Contrast, while not as good as VA panels, is very good. Saturation is also good while color reproduction is fairly accurate. The tone of the display is also fairly neutral, being neither cold or warm. The brightness of the screen is relatively good, and without sacrificing any contrast with an increase in brightness levels. My only caveat is the lack of auto-brightness despite being equipped with a light sensor. All in all, the calibrations they've done for the screen is very good, especially when you take into account that it's actually a TN panel. It is a much better TN panel than the one found on the Flare, sharpness notwithstanding due to the obvious differences in pixel density.

The Titan TV actually has the cheapest panel amongst its competitors in its price range, with competitors in the 7K to 8K range using better panel technology. However, the Titan TV doesn't really leave much ground in terms of picture quality. It's safe to say that the image quality of the screen on the Titan TV is above average. And what it loses ground to the competitor in terms of image quality, it makes up for in sheer amount of screen estate.

Again, we have a same debacle with the Titan. Pixel density. At 5.9" and 800x480 resolution, the pixel density of the Titan TV is 158 PPI. The Titan's 187 PPI was already considered low by the majority. That's as much objectivity as you get. But how does it actually look? Is it as bad as the numbers say? In my opinion, a resounding no. Mind you, I am very picky about picture quality, and if anything, contrast, color reproduction, saturation are all above pixel density in my book. This is exactly why I prefer watching movies on a 720p plasma compared to a 1080p LCD/LED. It simply looks better on a plasma. The point is this, the screen looks great and is sharp enough. Not to mention the default DPI is pretty high, so icons and UI elements take up more pixels and thus look sharper.

Another thing to consider is viewing distance. Given the size of the Titan TV, I actually found myself viewing it much farther than my other phones. I usually view my 4.0" iPhone 5 and 4.3" Cloudfone Thrill 430x with a 10 to 12 inch distance from my eyes, I view my 5.0" Titan anywhere from 10 to 16 inches away from my eyes, depending on what I'm doing. With the 5.9" Titan TV, I realized I was viewing it mostly at an arm's length, or around 14-20 inches away from my eyes.

It is extremely difficult to demonstrate how much our eyes resolve the details without looking at the actual device, but to give you an idea, the three pictures below will attempt demonstrate the viewing distance of the Titan TV at 4, 10 and 15 inches. They were shot at 4, 10 and 15 inches from the camera.

Lastly, the Titan TV's screen is also 5 point multitouch.

Processor and General Performance

The Titan TV is equipped with the MediaTek MTK6577 SOC found on most of the Android phones by local brands. The MTK6577 contains a dual-core Cortex A9 at 1 Ghz and a PowerVR SGX 531 Ultra. If you've been following the Android phones of local brands lately, the Titan TV more or less performs about the same as other phones equipped with the MTK6577. Performance is more than adequate for all applications and game compatibility is very good due to the widespread release of MTK6577-equipped devices in 2012.

As usual, since the PowerVR SGX 531 Ultra is relatively old, the newest games such as Modern Combat 4 and NOVA 3 from Gameloft may run a bit slow. Performance for all other games though is more than adequate to deliver a smooth gaming experience.

If there's anything worth noting about the Titan TV in the performance criteria, it's 1) the 1 GB of RAM; and 2) the software optimizations.

For starters, the Cherry Mobile Titan TV is currently the only Android phone from local brands (aside from the Kata i1) with 1 GB of RAM. Free RAM after a task manager "kill all" action is around 550 to 600 MB. The ridiculous amounts of RAM ensures that you can multitask as much as you want without slowing the UI to a crawl and without forcing Android to kill tasks eating up a lot of RAM. i.e. games. Like to have more than 5 tabs open on your browser just like on the PC without hiccups? No problem. Like to play keep GameFaqs and other game sites open on your browser while you play Order and Chaos Online just in case you need help on a quest? No problem.

Another good thing is the optimization they made. The Titan TV is by far and without a doubt, the smoothest Android device I've used from any of the local brands. Even out of the box, it is very smooth and requires no more tweaks from the user to feel any faster, because it already is fast.

With good hardware and good software implementation, simply put, the performance of the Titan TV overall is very satisfying.

Camera

The Cherry Mobile Titan TV is equipped with an 8.0 megapixel camera with a BSI (backside illuminated sensor; more on this later) that is also capable of shooting 720p video. There is also a strong single LED flash for pitch black scenes. First impression upon shooting with the camera is: the shutter is very fast! The shutter only takes about half a second to take a shot, meaning you don't need to hold your hand still for more than half a second to take a blur-free picture. The autofocus is also quite fast and focuses immediately when you either hold the shutter button or tap on the screen to focus on the selected area. The same is also used to set up macro shots. The viewfinder is also quick except in low light, which is expected.

The camera has plenty of manual controls and options. Everything from ISO, metering, exposure (3 steps -/+), brightness, contrast, hue, etc. are adjustable. For shooting options, there are 4 to 16 burst shot modes, face/smile recognition mode, best shot and beauty mode, etc. For special shooting modes, there is panorama and multi-angle shot mode. The panorama mode on the Titan TV is particularly good due to its intuitive implementation. When you hit the shutter in panorama mode, the phone automatically displays a square where you have to point the camera and when you overlap the squares, it automatically takes a photo and the next square is shown. The photo stitching process is fast and seamless. You can shoot panorama in either landscape or portrait and from left to right, right to left, up to down, or down to up.

To go with the myriad of manual controls and options, the image quality of the still shots taken by the Titan TV's camera are excellent. Overall, the amount of resolved detail is above average. Sharpness is a bit on the soft side, but saturation is spot on and contrast very good. Noise levels are also low. Properly focused shots in good lighting conditions can churn out very good looking pictures fit for printing in 4R or even 5R sizes. The shots are also more than enough for web use. Macro shots are also doable even at just 5 inches away from the subject.

The low light still shots are decent. Noise levels in low light are reduced thanks to the BSI sensor. Captured color detail in low light remains good though overall resolved detail is low. However, taking pictures where there is little light shows excessive black clipping. Non-BSI sensors would normally crank up the exposure until something is seen at the expense of excessive noise. Black clipping with no noise gives the picture a nice, clean look, but what if you just wanted to see something? It is also pretty difficult to get a clean focus at night, which means about 4 out of 5 of your shots will look soft or blurry.

The Titan TV can also shoot in HDR (high dynamic range) mode which generates two pictures, one with HDR and one without HDR. The BSI sensor helps the further in resolving shadow detail in HDR shots, thereby demonstrating greater range.

Below are sample shots taken by the Titan TV:
Please note that all pictures taken in good lighting have white balance set to 'daylight'.
All pictures taken in low light were taken in 'Night mode'.

The camera can also record in 720p resolution with stereo audio. The video is encoded in H.263, audio in AAC with bitrates of 12.5 Mbps and 128 kbps respectively. The quality of the video recording is good, with smooth framerates and no macroblocking. Level of resolved detail is a bit low though, but that's expected of phones that shoot video at a maximum of 720p resolution. Also, autofocus is a bit aggressive during video recording when focus mode is set to continuous autofocus, so I suggest that focus mode be set to infinity. File size ratio is about 100 MB to 1 minute of footage in 720p. You can also take lower resolution still shots while recording a video, which is a nifty feature.


Here's the lowdown on the Titan TV's camera:

  • Excellent shots in decent to good lighting
  • Decent low light shots, with relatively low noise levels and good color detail
  • Excellent macro shots, with sharp focus and closer shooting distance
  • Excellent panorama shooting mode
  • Plenty of manual controls and options
  • Video recording is decent for 720p
  • Getting a sharp focus in low light mode is very difficult

For a change, the front facing camera of the Titan TV is actually 2.0 megapixels. Despite being able to capture in higher resolution, the quality of the image isn't really a big step up from the usual front facing VGA cameras. It's perfectly usable for whatever video calling app you use like Skype.

Below are sample shots from the Titan TV's front facing camera:

Battery

The Titan TV is equipped with a 2500 mAh battery. This is 300 mAh short of the OEM specification (the Vsun i1's battery is 2800 mAh). Despite the relatively large battery, the increase in screen size affects the Titan TV's battery life somewhat as a larger screen has more backlighting compared to a smaller screen. Battery life remains above average and should last users at least a day on moderate to heavy use. My only caveat with the battery is that it seems to lose voltage relatively fast even on standby. Whereas the battery on my other phones would barely lose any after 3 hours of standby, the Titan TV seems to lose about 50% more. i.e. Titan loses 2% in the course of 5 hours, the Titan TV loses 3%. Minuscule, but still worth noting. Apparently, seems to have not been calibrated properly out of the box, with voltage readings sometimes jumping in between standby periods. Over the course of a few charge cycles, you will notice an inaccurate battery percentage reading. Running a battery calibrator app (which requires root access) once in a while should fix this. It is rather inconvenient for casual users.

For the battery test via looping playback, the application used to play the video is MX Player. The following were the conditions during the test:

  • Screen brightness: 4/15 of MX Player brightness setting or about 30% of Android brightness bar
  • Volume: 13/13 of MX Player volume setting or 100% of Android volume bar, with earphones attached to Titan TV
  • MX Player-specific settings: H/W+ decoder used for video. S/W decoder used for audio

The following are the details of the video file used for playback:

cherry-mobile-titan-tv-s320-review

Video playback began at 12:45 am with battery registering 98% and 4.205V and was looped until 6:45 am where the battery registered 53% and 3.78V. The phone rested for exactly 3 hours and playback again began at 9:45 am where the battery registered 50% and 3.75V. When battery reached 18% at 12:57 pm, I ended playback. Voltage was 3.68V.

The total playback time was 9 hours 12 minutes. The Titan TV provided slightly over 9 hours of video playback time. In comparison, this is nearly two hours short of the test result of the Cherry Mobile Cruize which also uses a 2500 mAh battery. The shortened playback time can be attributed to the larger screen and the additional processing muscle by the MTK6577.

Other Stuff

For a phone bordering on a tablet, it does the phone part well. Call quality is very good and the secondary mic on the rear of the phone does its noise cancelling properly to quell ambient noise. The earpiece volum