Hands-on with the AT&T Tilt

We like HTC. We like what they do with the cellphone carriers in the USA. We like that they make high-end handsets that the vendors can label themselves, thereby adding some parity in the phone market. As most major HTC phones have versions for all four carriers, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out because you’re stuck on Verizon or whatever. And we like that their phones get better and better.

This is the AT&T Tilt you’ve been hearing about. It’s one of the most high-end phones you can buy in America right now, features wise. It’s lacking nothing. Bluetooth? Check. Wi-Fi? Yup. GPS? Affirmative. Super-bright touchscreen with innovative tilt design, revealing a nice-to-the-touch QWERTY keypad? You bet. And it lands October 5th for $299. That’s right, $299 for the most feature-packed phone in North America. What is it that makes this handset so amazing?

Everything we’d heard rumored is in this thing. We’d figured there was no way this guy could do it all, but it certainly does it all, and then some. The Windows Mobile 6 is a welcome upgrade from those using the now-old 8525’s WinMo5. In addition, the 3-Megapixel camera isn’t too bad, though it’s lacking a flash.

For fun, you’ve got all three major IM clients built-in, as well as XM radio capabilities and enough games to keep you happy even a long flight. MMS and other video fun is included, too.

Also, it makes telephone calls.

Size-wise, the Tilt comes in on the large side of the spectrum. That’s to be expected, given its laundry list of features. That doesn’t mean it’s too large to use, in fact it slips in the pocket nicely, and has a very solid feel to it, including the tilting screen.

It’s not quite perfect, though. Besides the fact that it’s running Windows Mobile (I know, I know) and lacking a flash, the device doesn’t have a built-in GPS application; you can add TeleNav, but only with an associated monthly fee. While the 3G data makes browsing the Web fantastic, the sub-par processor is visibly having problems with large Web pages. Pocket Internet Explorer isn’t much help, either. We installed Opera Mini and things seem to be flying along quite a bit faster.

For a device this size, we would have loved to have seen a full-sized SD card slot, like most Treos have, but we’re limited to standard microSD. Not a total bummer, but more of an annoyance.

Also on that list is placement of the stylus at the bottom of the device. After years of most PDAs and smartphones using the top as the place for stylus storage, it’s a little unnatural to place it at the bottom. It should be at the top, as God intended.

In all, though, the Tilt is a solid offering from AT&T, and with its Exchange sync and PTT, would make a fantastic phone if you’re buying several for an enterprise environment. While for personal use, we’d still recommend a Treo, the Tilt makes for a tempting flagship. And make no mistake, the Tilt is the new sheriff in town at AT&T. Given the “no, me” relationship rumored between Apple and AT&T Wireless, you have to assume that AT&T will position this phone as its top-of-the-line, and we’d tend to agree.

Press Release [Biz News Wire]