First impressions of the AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II)

Att_tilt

Many people view the AT&T Tilt, the U.S. version of the HTC TyTN II, as the "holy grail of smartphones" and consider it to be a serious upgrade to most Windows Mobile devices currently on the market. While I don’t take issue with any of those claims, I actually bought one as a downgrade to my HTC Advantage X7501.

It arrived yesterday from AT&T’s online store, so there’s still a lot for me to do and learn before I can write a full review. What I did in the meantime, though, was put together a bunch of photos, my first impressions, and some other details about the Tilt. Have a look below.

Backstory

Before I continue, I should explain why I bought the Tilt when I’ve been happily swapping SIMs between my iPhone and Advantage for the past few months. The reason is simple: after my recent trip to Vegas, where I kept the iPhone in my purse while out and the Advantage tethered via Bluetooth to my Fujitsu U810 so I could get online in the hotel, I discovered that swapping SIMs every single day is a pain. Prior to Vegas, I’d leave the SIM in one of the units for weeks at a time.

I have two more trips coming up within the next few weeks, so I wanted a single device that 1) was small enough to use as a cell phone at all times and 2) could share its HSDPA connection with a computer over Bluetooth. A device running WM6 was also a must, as I have a lot of software for the Advantage that I wanted to "reuse."

Att_tilt_backstory

Many devices met my criteria, but I chose the Tilt because of its keyboard, tilt-able display, resemblance to the Advantage (which I still use), and high praise from bloggers whose opinions I respect and trust. It was also only $149 after mail-in rebate at the time (current price is $299 after rebate).

System specifications

I haven’t talked about the Tilt before, so here’s a quick rundown of its specs.

Operating system:
Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional
Processor:
400MHz Qualcomm MSM7200
Memory:
256MB ROM, 128MB RAM
Expansion:
microSD card slot (up to 32GB supported)
  Connectivity: 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, GPS
Network: Tri-band UMTS/HSDPA
Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
Camera: 3.0 megapixels (auto-focus, no flash)
Display: 2.8" QVGA touchscreen (240 x 320, 65K colors)
Dimensions: 4.4" x 2.3" x 0.73"
Weight:
6.0 ounces
Battery:
1320mAh rechargeable lithium ion
(up to 4 hours talk time, 8 days standby)

Unboxing

Att_tilt_unbox

The Tilt isn’t packaged as nicely or presented as well as its HTC TyTN II counterpart, but I was so excited to get the phone out that I barely noticed.

Att_tilt_contents

The carrying case and wired headset bundled with the TyTN II aren’t included with the Tilt (boo!), so all that’s in the box are a screen protector, various quick guides and paperwork, li-ion battery, AC charger, mini-USB sync cable, extra stylus, and 3G SIM card.

Setup

The Tilt’s battery ships only partially charged, so the first thing I did was insert and charge it. The scary activation instructions, which are flanked by stop signs and frighten users with its overuse of capital letters ("READ FIRST: To activate your phone/device & service, you must follow these steps IN ORDER"), list battery charging as STEP 1 as well.

Att_tilt_battery

The entire back plate of the phone acts as the battery cover.

Att_tilt_backslide

Att_tilt_sim

The SIM card slot is located (very conveniently) behind the sliding display. I put the included SIM back in the box and installed my already activated iPhone SIM instead.

Att_tilt_setup1

After the phone was fully charged (about 3 hours using the AC charger), I turned it on and watched an animated AT&T startup screen followed by a Windows Mobile splash screen.

Att_tilt_setup2

I calibrated the touchscreen with the stylus next and then waited a few minutes for the configuration and "custom app" installation to complete.

Att_tilt_angle1

Att_tilt_today

My SIM was recognized immediately and the default Today screen, ready for tweaking and customizing, was displayed.

And that’s it.

I connected the Tilt to my Vaio TZ, which already has Windows Mobile Device Center up and running for syncing with my Advantage, and was set up and synced within minutes.

Att_tilt_portrait

I’ve been spoiled by the Advantage’s spacious 8GB microdrive, so I haven’t decided what to put on the Tilt yet (I’ll do that in the next few days), but the first thing I did was install Spb Mobile Shell and Spb Pocket Plus. They’re absolute must-haves for me.

Hardware

My knee-jerk reaction upon first seeing the Tilt in person was one of shock.

Att_tilt_front

The device was enormous. It looked like a big fat brick.

Att_tilt_iphone

I understand now that my perception of size and weight was skewed by months of daily iPhone use.

Att_tilt_treo

Because as soon as I put the Tilt beside my old Treo 650, which I used exclusively for about a year, I stopped thinking it was a monstrosity and assessed its hardware.

Here’s what I saw.

Att_tilt_bottom

On the bottom half of the unit are a wrist strap loop, mini-USB sync/AC charger connector, and microphone. Above that is microSD card expansion slot.

Att_tilt_left

At the top left of the Tilt are a Push-to-Talk (PTT) button, jog dial, and OK button.

Att_tilt_right

Att_tilt_stylus

A stylus slot, camera button, and power button are on the right side.

Att_tilt_back

Att_tilt_cam

And on the back is an external antenna port and GPS receiver (beneath rubber piece), 3.0-megapixel camera, and speaker.

Att_tilt_controls

The backlit controls beneath the Tilt’s 2.8-inch display are shinier and more chrome-looking than on the TyTN II.

Display

The Tilt’s most unique feature and its namesake is, of course, the slide-and-tilt display.

Att_tilt_angle2

The sliding mechanism is smooth, strong, and somewhat spring-like in that a gentle nudge is all it takes to slide up the display and expose the keyboard (more on this below).

Att_tilt_screen

The display is attached to the rest of the unit with two hinge-like connectors that offer enough resistance to enable the screen to be positioned (or tilted) at any angle. There aren’t any preset notches, so the display can be adjusted to suit just about anyone’s tastes. I thought there would only be two positions (not tilted and tilted), so it’s great that there are a lot more.

Keyboard

Att_tilt_keyboard1

Hidden under the display is a backlit 41-key QWERTY thumboard with the dial pad highlighted in silver.

Att_tilt_keyboard2

I haven’t used the keyboard enough yet to form an educated opinion, but it seems pretty good out of the box. All of the keys are within easy reach and they offer enough tactile feedback to make touch typing a definite possibility (with practice, of course).

Att_tilt_hand1

Att_tilt_hand2

Like most thumboards, this one isn’t made for girls with long fingernails, as pressing a key with the tip of a thumb often results in simultaneously pressing an adjacent key with its nail.

Early wrap-up

Since this isn’t a real review and I only got the device yesterday, I can’t really draw any informed conclusions about the AT&T Tilt. My outlook at the moment is very positive, as everything has gone very smoothly and I haven’t experienced any hiccups or crashes.

HTC continues to impress me with its thoughtful designs and exceptional build quality, both of which are definite characteristics of the Tilt. I’m looking forward to using it as my primary mobile phone and will continue to share my experiences and thoughts in the coming weeks and months.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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23 thoughts on “First impressions of the AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II)

  • December 5, 2007 at 3:32 am
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    Hey Jenn, nice pictures. I was able to play around with one of my friends Tilts, and just as you and probably most people, I thought it a really bulky. The interface isn’t designed for finger touch at all which is very disappointing. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand who wants to get out a stylus every time they want to click a button on their screen.

    Reply
  • December 5, 2007 at 3:37 am
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    Oh and I’m surprised they didn’t name it the Tylt. I hate when they use miserably incorrect spellings in product names.

    Reply
  • December 6, 2007 at 2:33 am
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    How about posting a video showing its real world use?

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  • December 6, 2007 at 1:26 pm
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    @ Benz: I wonder how much (if any) control HTC actually has over what other companies name their products. Thankfully, no one else seems to share HTC’s hatred of vowels and lowercase letters (STRTrk and MTeoR are two of the worst!). HTC’s codenaming conventions are much better (Athena, Kaiser, etc.), so I don’t know what happens between the codename and the final name.

    Yeah, Windows Mobile (much like XP and Vista on UMPCs) isn’t optimized for the finger. Spb Mobile Shell is excellent and very finger-friendly, but no matter how easy it is to find and launch a program with your finger, once you’re actually in the program, you usually need the stylus or hardware buttons. I wouldn’t mind taking the HTC Touch series for a spin…

    Reply
  • December 7, 2007 at 7:38 am
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    I just bought this after lusting after the 8525 but couldn’t justify the price. I’m loving it so far! Only thing with this is a bluetooth headset is a must (I suppose with most phones with touchscreens).

    Reply
  • December 8, 2007 at 3:00 am
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    @ Kamal: Hmm. That’s an idea. Anything in particular you’d like to see?

    @ tanya: Was the 8525 more expensive than the Tilt? Seems strange.

    Thanks for the reminder. I have a Jawbone headset in serious need of charging that I keep meaning to pair with the Tilt. Getting the headset onto my ear and into position was such a pain when I used it with my iPhone and Advantage that I eventually gave up and either used speakerphone or just held the phone (iPhone only) to my ear.

    Do you prefer a headset because of the not-so-nice face smudges on the screen or because of accidental interaction with the system? I haven’t noticed or looked into whether the Tilt has a face sensor to take care of the latter issue. I don’t think it does…

    Did you get a case yet? I just bought the official one that ships with the TyTN II (not sure why it isn’t included with the Tilt) from Mobile Planet and am getting one from Noreve as well (reviews forthcoming). I haven’t received either yet so I’m using my old Treo cases in the meantime. They’re a perfect fit.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2007 at 8:36 pm
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    Hi Jenn!

    Well, I would love to see a video regarding its speed without the actual at&t crap installed. To achieve the crapless situation, just do a soft reset just after hard reset when the auto-installation begins.

    In the video, you can show its usage+speed while fetching data from the internet; speeds using opera mobile(not the java one); how nice is the keyboard. Also, I would like to know real world battery life.

    I know, I’ve asked for a lot, but, its all upto you dear regardig what you’re able to show in the video(as you must be a busy person) :)

    PS: the pocketables.com is soon going to be my homepage for sure. It has the exact information that is liked by me

    Reply
  • December 10, 2007 at 12:09 pm
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    what is that homescreen interface?

    thanks,
    saul

    Reply
  • December 10, 2007 at 2:00 pm
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    Thanks for your support, Kamal. I appreciate it.

    I’m a little hesitant to do a hard reset at this point because I’ve already got everything set up the way I want it. Redoing it isn’t labor-intensive or anything, but I’m pressed for time right now. I was going to uninstall the AT&T crapware when I first got the phone, but the instructions I had planned to follow scared me with its talk of a registry editor and the missing proxy manager. Tinkering with stuff makes me uneasy because I don’t really know what I’m doing.

    I’m not able to do a video at the moment, but I may do one in my full review. I already did a browser comparison on my Advantage, so I know that if I actually plan to use the Tilt for web browsing (a QVGA screen is pretty unpleasant for this, especially since I hate mobile versions of websites), I’m going to have to buy Opera (it came preinstalled on the Advantage). At the moment, I’m not too keen on buying a program I don’t really plan to use, but I may eventually cave for the review.

    I’m having trouble with the keyboard right now because of the length of my nails. I want them relatively long for CES next month, where I anticipate taking a number of pictures of new devices in my hands, so I can’t cut them yet.

    Reply
  • December 10, 2007 at 4:28 pm
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    @ saul: It’s Spb Pocket Plus on top of Spb Mobile Shell. They can both be used separately, but I like the combination. You can download free trials from Spb Software House.

    Reply
  • December 12, 2007 at 7:56 am
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    Thanks for the reply Jenn!

    Well, you can do a full backup of the device using SPB backup(comes with full featured 15day trial version) and then can restore it in its current state. I can even provide you the full version key if you want to use for extended duration(I got one for reviewing it ;) )

    But, anyway, since you are dealing with shortage of time, I understand :)

    Reply
  • December 12, 2007 at 3:04 pm
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    Shortly after I responded to your last comment, I put my silly fears aside and got rid of all the AT&T nonsense. I didn’t bother with the proxy manager and so far it doesn’t look like it matters.

    I have Sprite Backup, but I actually just redid everything from scratch. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, and I’m happy with the results. Thanks for the suggestion! :-)

    I installed the 30-day trial of Opera 8.65 to see how much I’ll actually use it. I mentioned elsewhere how much I disliked Internet Explorer Mobile on the Advantage. Well, I pretty much hate it on the Tilt. Opera is excellent, as expected, but again, QVGA browsing is not fun at all. Do you browse often on your Atom Life?

    Reply
  • December 13, 2007 at 6:58 am
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    I know QVGA browsing is no fun as compared to the ‘fun’ you get on a VGA device.
    Yes, I’m out of my home most of the day so I do most of my regular browsing stuff on my device itself. I use both netfront and opera because there are some site which work with netfront only(say keepvid.com)

    BTW, I’ve now bought a Dopod C800(htc herald) and sold the Atom Life. I change devices quite often and I surmise, this Tytn II(kaiser, tilt blah blah blah) would be something I would be able to hold for few months atleast

    Reply
  • December 20, 2007 at 6:03 am
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    So … one of my big questions has been .. did AT&T actually have them make a different board, is the front camera hidden by a different Bezel then used on the TyTN II / Kaiser. I just don’t see HTC wanting to retool assembly for removing that kinda physical component; maybe just disabling in firmware tho …

    Reply
  • December 20, 2007 at 11:17 am
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    Good question, ZZ. I haven’t seen any photos of the Tilt disassembled, so I don’t really know the answer. The front camera was also removed from the US version of the HTC Advantage (I can’t remember exactly why but it was something about videoconferencing), though, so it’s possible that HTC routinely makes several versions of the same component.

    The Tilt’s keyboard and buttons are cosmetically different from the TyTN II as well, so I’m thinking that it’s just a different bezel.

    Reply
  • January 13, 2008 at 11:21 am
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    It’s weird how AT&T decided not to include TouchFLO and HTC Home. These DO optimize it for fingers, and come with the unbranded and T-Mobile versions here in Britain. however, it is of course available as a CAB from the site that develops for XDAs…

    Also, the 8GB thing isn’t an issue, seeing as you can get 8GB MicroSDHC now, and probably 16 soon enough.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2008 at 6:24 am
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    Can I upgrate its Windows OS version when a new version is released?

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  • September 12, 2008 at 4:08 am
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    If you take your SIMS card out of the IPhone will the information that was on your IPhone transfer to the Tilt.

    Reply
  • October 22, 2008 at 11:59 am
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    curious, I am looking at the original (kaiser) as aposed to the tilt because I am on a T-Mobile network. With the unfolding of the G1, T-mobile as launched their HSDPA network in my backyard, do you know if an unlocked tilt will work on the t-mobile HSDPA system? I have seen different opinons on this problem. Also, you mentioned the original TyTn ii in your review, are their any other noticible differences between the orgininal and the tilt? One last question, being I have been with T-moblie for a long time, my current sim card is the one I have had activated for years now, do access the 3G networks, do I need a new sim card?

    If you can answer these questinos, thank you.
    Benjamin

    Reply
  • April 12, 2010 at 11:05 am
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    I’m getting this phone in 3 months and i wanted to know….how much do I need to pay for the internet?? And do they still have this phone??

    Reply
    • July 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm
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      Its not available now gloria….

      Reply

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