PhoneNews.com picks the phone which changed the industry the most in 2008.
What’s probably the most shocking thing about our pick is, not only is it not iPhone 3G, but it wasn’t even released this year. Read more to see what phone it is, and why.
Many don’t know the HTC Titan by its original name. But most have at least heard of Sprint’s HTC Mogul, the Verizon Wireless XV6800, or Alltel’s HTC PPC-6800. The phone originally shipped on Sprint in late 2007, and had a couple of GSM siblings; the AT&T 8525 (Hermes) and T-Mobile Wing.
But unlike its GSM counterparts, the Titan has changed the wireless industry, in several key ways.
First, the device made quite clear that software updates can add major new features, across carriers. iPhone set a new benchmark last year, where we coined the phrase iPhone wants to be updated. Apple’s iTunes-updating solution told the industry that they were wrong to make people buy new hardware in order to get new software. Unfortunately, most of the wireless industry did what it usually does: bury its head in the sand.
The Titan was the exception to the rule. No device, aside from iPhone, has received more software updates. And, it arguably received more new features than iPhone. When the device shipped, it carried Windows Mobile 6.0, and the original version of EV-DO 3G speeds. No GPS, no other modern features.
First, Sprint added their Music Store. Then came EV-DO Rev A. Then came Sprint Navigation, complete with unlocked GPS. Around this time, hackers spun off the EV-DO Rev A fun for Verizon Wireless. Sprint then issued Sprint TV, making the Mogul their most powerful phone, and the first smartphone to carry all of their consumer advanced features.
Hackers then uped the ante over on Verizon, combining GPS and EV-DO Rev A, before Verizon even offered their first firmware update. Then came Verizon’s first firmware update… and after hackers had done all of Verizon’s “hard” work, Verizon managed to step in, neutering their GPS only to their VZ Navigator.
Then Verizon claimed that they weren’t hindering it.
Then hackers deleted the hindrance.
Then Verizon admitted that they were hindering their customers.
Then they claimed that they weren’t hindering their customers… again.
Now they’ve promised to fix the problem… if you buy a new phone, and probably sign a new contract.
Got all that? Good. Thanks Verizon, you make our jobs even more secure with every customer you tick off. Nobody else in the mobile media was able to keep track of this saga, except PhoneNews.com.
So why does all of this add up to making the HTC Titan the phone of the year? Unlike iPhone, the industry did actually change because of the HTC Titan. Customers have shown that they want to keep a high-end device which has all of today’s network technology. I see no reason to pay full price, or sign a new contract, to upgrade… did I mention the phone is over a year old?
In such a fast-paced wireless industry, for a phone to stay current for that long, at the top of the feature set game, is simply shocking.
The other reason, is the iPod touch 2G. Thanks to it, you can have your cake and eat it too. Slinging Wi-Fi from the Titan to an iPod touch 2G is not only easy, the FCC appears to have made it free, too. Some said that was notion was taboo, but our readers (and staff) have found it to be the best of both worlds. You get an unlocked device that can run any app, and you get the benefits of the iPod touch’s web browser, email, iPod, and App Store.
On top of all that, the HTC Titan delivers turn-by-turn GPS navigation with not one, but seven different solutions. From TeleNav to Garmin, it just works (well, unless you’re on Verizon, then you need one more thing).
Oh, and one more thing. A Titan and iPod touch 2G wind up being cheaper for most too. In a typical case, rather than paying $200 to $400 for an walled-garden iPhone 3G, an iPod touch costs around $200, and an Titan runs for about $100 to $200 on eBay.
But, wait a minute, you forgot the real cost of wireless… your service plan. Sprint and Verizon deliver better data add-ons that cost less money. And, unlike iPhone, you can even opt for a data-only plan. Heck, you can even re-program it to work on MetroPCS if you’re willing to work for it.
In short, we would have given the award of Phone of The Year to iPhone 3G. But the Titan’s ability to be paired with an iPod touch, for less money, and more utility… not to mention its ability to change the entire wireless industry… made this an easy choice for us.