Unihertz Titan Slim review: the keyboard phone lives

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BlackBerry fans mourning the death of keyboard phones have hope, thanks to a Shanghai-based vendor unithertz It has been developing several phones with keyboards since 2017. this is the latest of that genre titan slimThere’s a US$329.99 (about C$450) device reminiscent of the BlackBerry Key2 that could make users of the now-defunct device very happy indeed.

Unihertz Titan Slim (left) vs BlackBerry Key2

The Titan Slim is slightly smaller than the BlackBerry Key2, measuring 146.85 x 67.6 x 12.75 mm, compared to the Key2’s 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5 mm, but it sits nicely in the hand, and weighs 204 grams (the Key2 168 grams suggests the scale of). The extra weight is mainly due to its 4100mAh battery (the Key2 was powered by a 3050mAh battery), which should allow the phone to last a few days on a single charge – or more, depending on usage.

The screen measures 4.2 inches, not much smaller than the Key2’s 4.5-inch display, which has a resolution of 768 x 1280, which is easy to see, and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. With 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, it handles day-to-day tasks well, although reviews from avid gamers (I’m not such a creature) note that its processor isn’t meant for heavy-duty gaming. Too slow.

keyboard

The keyboard is the crux of this phone, and it has both good and bad points. To avoid patent infringement lawsuits, the QWERTY keyboard’s sim, alt, fn, and shift keys are on the top on the Titan Slim, on the bottom of the Key2’s keyboard, interrupted by a capacitive home button/fingerprint reader in the middle. Some keys are also missing, and some functions have moved to different keys than Key2, meaning retraining of muscle memory. For example, the zero on Key2 was on the mic button, which is not present on the Titan Slim, so it has been moved to the Q key. And the Home, Back, and Recent buttons, usually soft keys at the bottom of the screen, are physical buttons.

BlackBerry Key2 (left) vs Unihertz Titan Slim keyboard

The Key2’s keys are roughly the same size, but because the phone is slightly narrower, they’re closer together, making them feel smaller. Those with larger fingers may find it a challenge.

Like the Key2, the Titan Slim has a touch-sensitive illuminated keyboard that allows you to swipe up or down to scroll, or swipe horizontally to move between screens, but you need to enable the feature. will (it was enabled by default on key 2). On the Titan Slim, the feature is called Scroll Assistant, and it and other features are managed through the Intelligent Assistance menu in Settings. In fact, this phone has enough interesting and useful (but hidden) features that it’s worth taking the plunge. user manual And actually reading this.

cameras

The sky was indeed that blue. Photo by Lynn Greiner

The cameras and camera app on the Titan Slim are pretty basic. You get a 48-megapixel (MP) autofocus rear camera with flash, 4x zoom, and anti-shake, and a front-facing 8MP fixed-focus shooter. The rear camera has a video mode, a time-lapse mode, and a pro mode (it’s not packed full of features—it lets you adjust for white balance, set the ISO between 100 and 12800, and set the exposure tweaks). There’s no night mode, so be prepared to use the flash when the lighting is low. That said, both cameras do a decent job – in fact, they do pretty well for a non-flagship phone; I was surprised that the rear camera passed the Black Cat test.

the black cat test
Photo by Lynn Greiner

And what is the black cat test, you ask? Anyone who has a black cat knows that most cameras have great difficulty focusing on the critters, so any camera that can get a good picture of a black cat passes one of the ultimate tests. , whether or not it is accompanied by other fancy features. ,

additional features

The Titan Slim offers Near Field Communication (NFC) support and Bluetooth 4.1 as well as Wi-Fi. Its sensor collection is made up of a G-sensor, gyroscope, proximity, ambient light sensor, and compass, as well as a fingerprint reader embedded in the home button. It also supports the usual suspects, if you prefer other methods of authentication: passwords, PINs, or facial recognition.

Its USB-C port allows usb otg (On the Go), which allows the phone to act as a USB host to which other devices can connect. There are no other ports (though Unihertz includes a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter for headphones), and no external storage such as microSD. However, there’s a blast from the past—an infrared (IR) blaster, which allows the phone to act as a universal remote (with the appropriate software; a program is provided).

The FM radio relies on wired headphones—the cable acts as its antenna—so don’t count on it working if you’re a wireless earbud user. The phone also has a programmable key on the left side that allows you to quickly launch a chosen app, take a screenshot, toggle the flashlight on and off, record a phone call, and more. This is configurable through the Shortcut settings in the Intelligent Assistance menu in Settings.

The phone supports dual Nano SIMs, but you only get internal storage – there’s no microSD slot. And you’re limited to 4G LTE—it doesn’t offer 5G. Confirm with your carrier that its supported bands (listed in the specifications on the product page) will work on their network.

Charging is via the included A/C adapter – wireless charging is not supported. I have found that the phone lasts for several days with average usage. And, to extend that time, you can program the phone to automatically turn itself off and back on at specified times.

take a look at promo video For a look at more features of the device.

software

The Titan Slim comes with a fairly vanilla version of Android 11, which works fine, but – and it’s a huge but – it comes with the August 2022 security update, and Unihertz support says it’s currently waiting for the update. There is no plan. It’s a concern, and I hope the company will reconsider its strategy (and it might — it just updated one of its other Titan models). Users need to push back all the vendors who do not update on time.

The phone ran all the software I tried (except for one augmented reality game which is grumpy even on some Android 13 phones). And it doesn’t come with the amount of bloatware that some phones do.

To make it more Key2-like, I’ve also installed the BlackBerry Hub+ services and BlackBerry Inbox (both available in the Play Store), and both work perfectly.

ground level

If you’re looking for a flagship-grade phone, this isn’t it.

The Titan Slim gives you a respectable device with a BlackBerry-ish keyboard that does what older BlackBerrys offered: good battery life and a physical keyboard, but with better cameras and a newer operating system (the Key2 runs Android 8.1). Sure, it’s chunkier (2.25mm thick and 2.36g heavier), but not unacceptably so, at least for me.

Granted, it doesn’t support 5G, or wireless charging, and doesn’t have a microSD slot. If any of these things are important to you, this is not the right phone.

But if that physical keyboard makes your heart skip a beat, the Titan Slim is worth a look.



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