Unihertz has never been opposed to taking risks with smartphone designs and its upcoming Titan Slim is no exception. While the phone has yet to hit Kickstarter a few early reviews are in… and they’re not too flattering.

The Titan Slim looks like a pretty standard QWERTY update. Its elongated body bolts a physical keyboard beneath a touchscreen display.

It also features dual SIM slots, an IR blaster and a customizable action button on the side. The Titan Slim will probably sell somewhere in the $200 – $300 range.

So far so good, right? According to early reviewers, things get pretty underwhelming from there.

First off, the Titan Slim also isn’t quite what you’d call slim when comparing it to most other phones on the market right now. It’s half an inch thick, which is more than 50% thicker than the Pixel 5a 5G.

Then there’s the keyboard. What should be the phone’s standout feature ends up being a source of disappointment.

Unihertz opted to place the modifier keys in the top row, instead of at the bottom where you’d expect them to be.

Also in the top row: the phone’s fingerprint sensor, which doubles as a home button. Graze it while typing and you’re dumped out of whatever input field you were typing in. Unihertz built in a double-tap toggle to prevent this and you’d almost certainly want to enable it.

Another result of the modifier keys being placed at the top is that the spacebar interrupts the bottom row of letters. Maybe that’s not a deal breaker, but it’s probably going to take some getting used to.

One final note on the keyboard: typing on the Titan Slim can be a rather wobbly experience because its weight isn’t distributed as thoughtfully as on a device like the Blackberry Key2.

Above that keyboard sits the Titan Slim’s display. It measures 4.2 inches and has a native resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels. That works out to an aspect ratio of 5:3, which won’t play well with every Android app.

It also failed to impress with its weak and spotty backlighting.

Reviewers also noted that the Titan Slim’s three-year-old Helio P70 processor doesn’t provide the smoothest user experience. Camera performance was fairly poor, and the phone’s plastic shell appears to be a magnet for smears and fingerprints.

It’s worth noting, however, that these were pre-production units that reviewers were looking at. Unihertz could very well make some adjustments to the Titan Slim prior to kicking off production just might make it an appealing option to budget-conscious shoppers who really, really want a new QWERTY phone.

via PCMag and MrMobile

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  1. Many of these criticisms apply to the last two entries in the Titan line, the original Unihertz Titan and the Titan Pocket. The keyboard’s layout isn’t great but the space bar’s placement makes sense in use and is fine, the modifier keys are on the bottom probably for legal reasons and it kind of sucks but in use they’re fine. The last two Titans weren’t on the teensy side nor were they designed to be – they’re phones for people who “actually get things done” (see the original Titan kickstarter) and not for the kind of person that cares about how their phone looks compared to an iPhone.

    There are bigger issues which are done dirty by your only focusing on the small ones.

    The keyboard is woefully inadequate: no dollar sign, which makes sense for international distribution but makes any prolonged remote terminal use a real hassle (which is a problem because this phone is in part wooing the actually technical crowd who want a phone with a good keyboard so they can actually type things); no percent symbol, see previous argument; no ampersand; and no semicolon, so I wouldn’t be able to type this sentence. This somewhat makes sense because it’s a small keyboard but I would have liked to see another row of keys. Unihertz has a software keyboard that adds a row of keys to the screen but it’s non-standard (not present on third-party OSes) and takes away screen real estate.

    In terms of screen resolution, I’ll just say that a resolution of anything by 768 is a red flag for the quality of a product. And that this phone is 1280×768 while the original Titan was 1440×1440 (yes, a 1:1 screen, and it looks great).

    But a bad keyboard and low res screen are small beans, they only affect 98% (I wouldn’t have been able to type that on the Mini) of the usage of the phone. The big issue is that as far as I know Unihertz is still violating the GNU Public License under which they’re using the Linux kernel. They have not distributed the source code to their modified kernel, which is an unlawful violation and a slap in the face of many honest developers working on the kernel whose work was used by Unihertz without following the rules everyone else follows just to make a buck. This means nobody can benefit from Unihertz’s modifications to the Free kernel and therefore developers can’t modify their own phones without buggier experiences than the defaults. I wish Unihertz would stop breaking the law and play fair and square like other companies and that’s why I’ve been boycotting their products, which is a shame because the Titan is awesome and the Titan Pocket and Mini, despite their flaws, seem like generally pretty good Android phones.

  2. That doesn’t surprise me about the keyboard. I bought a Titan Pocket last year for my business phone. I thought its keyboard would be like the old Blackberry hardware, and I always typed better on it than I ever have a soft keyboard.

    But like this new phone, the Pocket has all the modifier keys in the top row. I have never grown comfortable typing on it and still find myself using my personal Pixel for work instead of the Titan Pocket.

    I appreciate what they were trying to do, but the reality didn’t live up to the dream.

  3. It’s definitely no Blackberry Passport. I’d love to see a modern take on the Passport’s 1440×1440 1:1 screen, when I had one it was absolutely gorgeous and even though the keyboard wasn’t as good as classic Blackberry boards, it was easy enough to type on. A modern Passport with LineageOS or Linux would be amazing.

    1. Agreed, I’d pay a lot for that. If they also integrate an optical trackpad for pointer-based and the ability to move quickly through lists, scroll, etc like on the Blackberry Classic I’d pay full premium flagship smartphone price or more.

  4. A 4.2″ 5:3 display might be small for this thing, but that sounds basically perfect for retrogaming handhelds. Fingers crossed we see something like that soon…

  5. It’s plain enough that considerations other than functionality drive the market. I like the idea of a QWERTY keyboard attached to an all-purpose device I take with me everywhere and use to browse the Internet and write, but not so much that I’m blinded to the fact that it’s far too small to use comfortably; wanting a QWERTY keyboard and wanting maximal screen area are fundamentally irreconcilable goals. Consumers eagerly await a device with at least an 11″ touchscreen with attached QWERTY keyboard that folds up into a tesseract when not in use and occupies the volume of a credit card.