back to article Unihertz Titan Pocket: Like asking Mum for a BlackBerry and she tells you 'but we've got a BlackBerry at home'

The Unihertz Titan Pocket – a small ruggedised Android 11 phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard – is a bit like when you ask your mum to buy you a Big Mac meal from McDonald's and she instead makes you one at home. Sure, it might be a great burger, but it's not the same. For starters, the Unihertz Titan Pocket comes from a …

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Although I never really got into the Blackberry phones but I could see some appeal for some to using a phone with a physical keyboard as opposed to a a touch screen. One that springs to mind is for people whos jobs require them to wear gloves. As taking gloves on and off to use a touch screen phone would be inconvenient or even a safety risk in some occupations.

    1. James 51

      An edge case to be sure but when I have having chemotherapy all touch screen devices stopped registering my touch. Something in my skin had been changed, different texture and everything and it took several months to go back to normal. Thankfully I had a Q10 so keyboard shortcuts could do everything I needed.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        It may be worth trying a compatible stylus in such a case. Usually they have a little sponge thing as the tip. I didn't get on too well with it, but it will be better than nothing. You also might need to grip the stylus quite firmly.

        Or lubricate it... I once had a spell using a different type of touchscreen sensor, and while I did want to use a stylus, it was a bit fussy. What worked that time, but wouldn't be suitable generally, was an old felt-tip pin with the felt inside washed clean, then a hole cut in the side of the pen, then soaked in water, so I could rest a finger on the hole and complete a circuit of some kind between the pen and my body.

  2. Valeyard

    physical keyboard

    I loved physical keyboards... but why copy a phone that had a narrow physical keyboard because of the portrait orientation? the g1 and its ilk already showed that you can hide a full landscape keyboard behind a normal full-sized screen without making compromises anywhere

    Unihertz has a fundamentally different business model. It makes weird phones (like a 4G blower the size of two cigarette lighters

    um..I think the business model here is prisoners

    ALSO homemade burgers are better than big macs

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: physical keyboard

      Android apps should support custom screen formats, but they don't. The only reasonable format if you're using common Android apps is a portrait screen.

      It is possible to do split screen, but this then squashes the app making it fairly unusable

      I really must get around to tweaking the non pocket Titan to do the split screen horizontally rather than vertically, because that might be a decent work around. It does have 'mini mode' but that wastes a huge amount of screen estate.

      Also, having compared the Pro 1 to the Titan, the Titan keyboard is generally an improvement. It lacks arrow keys and a separate numeric keypad, but is otherwise more pleasant to type on.

    2. sev.monster Bronze badge

      Re: physical keyboard

      Slidey chocobar phones were peak design. No compromise on screen realestate, can be used as a fondleslab without interruption, srill have full physical keyboard. I would pay ten times the price they are asking for the Titan Pocket if it had those features.

      1. seven of five Silver badge

        Re: physical keyboard

        Absolutely. A decent specced, Android 12 re-issue of the priv. It will be expensive, but sometimes only expensive will do.

      2. cray74

        Re: physical keyboard

        "Slidey chocobar phones were peak design."

        I went from an LG enV Touch to the Droid 1 slider. While the jump in performance from a feature phone to a smart phone was impressive and the jump from 3G to 4G was great, I was not impressed with the slider and keyboard combination. The enV rotated the screen out of the way of my thumbs while the Droid kept it there like a speed bump designed interfere with the top row of keys.

        Your mileage obviously varies, but I miss the flip-phone keyboard of my enV. I've had high hopes for the Gemini and Cosmo but they seem to need a little more refinement.

        1. James 51

          Re: physical keyboard

          I had the Blackberry Q10 and have the Gemini. The Gemini is a mini work horse. Clearly first gen but impressibe all the same. You need somewhere to set it down to use it though. Think of it effectively as a mini Android laptop with a 4G modem. It's not suitable to be used as your primary phone (particularly as on the software side it has been largely abandoned and a replacement battery is £100 from planet computers), you can't use it on the go the way you could with a Blackberry. The Q10 was one of the best phones I've had and I am comparing it to my S9 and fairphone 3. It was robust and had a replaceable battery. I got about four or five years out of it and would never have gotten my S9 if my son hadn't used it for a teething ring and it was impossible to get a resonably priced replacement. If Blackberry announced a new version of the Q10 with BB10, Android App support and a usb-c port (keeping the user changable battery of course) I'd have it on pre-order.

      3. sev.monster Bronze badge
        Go

        Re: physical keyboard

        HOW DID I NOT HEAR ABOUT THIS.

        IT'S EVERYTHING I WANT.

        PLANET ASTRO SLIDE.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Windows

    It looks interesting

    Even with it quirks, it looks interesting.

    But, with the size of my fingers, that keyboard would be an exercise in frustration.

    Sorry, I'll have to pass.

  4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    Cheap, but I won't be getting it

    Square and landscape ratio Android phones are dead. The Priv was almost perfect except for stopping security patches early and having hardware that failed after a couple of years.

    I've got both an FXTec Pro 1, and an Unihertz Titan. Many apps simply don't work with the aspect ratio, meaning the phone needs to be switched into 'mini mode'.

    Unihertz also concentrate on their hardware to the exclusion of everything else, whilst Blackberry understood that a sold set of bundled software was essential.

    Let's see what the new Blackberry phone turns out to be like. Hideously expensive I expect, but hopefully with a commitment to years of security fixes.

    1. James 51

      Re: Cheap, but I won't be getting it

      The first priv got a shorter than expected support period because one of the chipset manufacturers pulled their support and Blackbettery/TCL couldn't get them to change their mind. The Key 2 is still getting updates now.

  5. Reg Reader 1

    I'd love a side slide about the size of the old LG Rumour 2. I thought that had a great physical keyboard and they use use the whole of the top section as a screen and, of course, there are many other possible updates.

  6. nintendoeats Bronze badge

    Well, I ordered one at the 33%-off price (which was promptly offset by the shipping to Canada). Since in theory I have an fxtec coming, I'm sure I'll wind up with something acceptable (and sell the other). The aspect ratio issue is an...issue.

  7. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    +1 for physical keys

    In addition to the advantages of physical keys for typing, it's great to have physical buttons and keys for other services such as music. Being able to do things such as advance tracks, etc. without looking at the screen is something I really miss. I'm sure other users can think of many other advantages.

    I guess the major disadvantage is that physical keyboards are more prone to breakage and require additional parts.

  8. RobThBay

    New Blackberry phone coming soon

    Don't worry a new Blackberry/android phone is supposed to be out later this year. Made by an American company (Onward Mobility) using tech licenced from Blackberry.

    https://www.cnet.com/news/blackberry-phones-to-return-in-2021-with-5g-and-physical-keyboard/

    Yay!!

    1. SuperGeek

      Re: New Blackberry phone coming soon

      "Made by an American company (Onward Mobility)"

      Sounds more like a company that makes powerchairs and powered mobility scooters for disabled people than a tech company :)

      1. dithomas

        Re: New Blackberry phone coming soon

        The speed (ho, ho) with which crumblies here have adopted powered wheelchairs, and the speed (not ho, ho) at which they drive them though the underground/subway stations here mean that the aforesaid powered wheels are definitely high tech. Perhaps Onward Mobility would do better to concentrate on these devices rather than vapourware phones.

        The announcement, much ballyhooed, mentioned some sort of introduction, in other words a device you could see and, for some, touch in the first half of 2021. Only six weeks to go then.

        I like Unihertz. Yes, on their website they do feature as many PR and communications people as engineers, and the engineers, apart from the founder, have the youthful sheen of secondary/high school graduates, but their phones are solid (don't drop the original Titan on the floor, or you'll be replacing the floor). I have found my Titan to work as advertised. It has a capacitive keyboard, like the BlackBerry, so you can scroll up and down pretty well. This feature is touted for the Titan Pocket, so this may assuage one of the grumps of the reviewer.

        Most importantly, my Titan got its upgrade to Android 10 as promised. My now neglected BlackBerry Key 2 is still languishing in the abandoned garden of Android 8.1. My Planet Cosmo came with Android 9. Which it still has. The update cleaned up many of the problems reported with the software and made it much nicer to use. Battery life on the Titan is gobsmackingly good (6000 mAh) and the Pocket should be long-lived for its specifications. I love my Cosmo, but you have to remember to turn off the outside cover display, otherwise you don't get through the day.

        I love my keyboard devices, as you may have gathered. I have my Planet Astro on order, and I yield to no-one for my love for Martin Riddiford, the chief designer of Planet, who also designed the Psions of my youth. Yes, I had plenty of them, too. And yes, I did order the Titan Pocket at launch. Of course I'll order the new BlackBerry if it ever gets built and released outside its rumoured market of The Bank of America, which was so seriously concerned about the lack of security, apparently, that they talked to Onward Mobility about making an updated BB.

        I fully accept that most people are quite content to tap and slide on glass. If my unscientific researches are correct, most people, and all young people here, have prehensile thumbs. But if your business is words and not some weird iteration of a game that revolves around the destruction of as many beings and objects as possible, there is nothing that beats productivity, because productivity includes accuracy as well as speed, than a PKB, My Sony Xperia 1 II (stupid name, brilliant phone) has a specification that knocks spots off anything else I own. However, it only replaced the Key 2 as my daily driver in November, and that because certain apps were abandoning Android 8. The sale price of a limited edition Sony with 12 gb of memory also played a part. However, I still miss the accuracy ad comfort of the BB, despite a grudging acceptance that GBoard does have a lot going for it. If GBoard didn't slide, but only tapped, I'd still be on the BB.

        So each to their own. I am not trying to convert anyone into getting a phone with a PKB, but these phones certainly have their place. Forgive the slight rant, and the diversion down memory lane, but some of us will pursue the delights of PKBs until the bitter end.

        Typed on a wonderful Zergo split mechanical keyboard. Someone passed on a rumour that mechanical kbs may be having something of a resurgence ...

        1. sev.monster Bronze badge

          Re: New Blackberry phone coming soon

          Link to the Astro Slide: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/astro-slide-5g-transformer

          I am working on a PCB for an ortholinear split keyboard with a layout based on Workman...

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    "Caters to those desperate for a physical keyboard but nothing about it is intuitive"

    Well, I mean those same people say that a crippled iPhone is "intuitive" so frankly I am quite interested to try out what they consider to be the opposite.

  10. nautica
    FAIL

    Where do these rocket scientists come from?

    Such a shame...

    A NEW 'Blackberry' does not have to look like a cross between a Ferrari and Virgin Galactic's latest space effort...AND have poor reception, to boot; because the blockhead "Social Media Influencer" (does anyone in the world of tech design have a real job--or a real degree, for that matter-- any more?) who dreamed up this design--with nary an engineer in sight--decided that poor reception was an extremely acceptable and valid trade-off for being able to say it has a metal case...and screw the extra design time--and the hiring of an real ENGINEER--needed to actually guarantee good reception.

    Have these idiots NOT checked out existing 'Blackberrys'?--

    'Classic', 'KEYone', and 'KEY2' are going, respectively, for between $330 and $1400--you read that correctly: a REAL Blackberry 'KEY2' is selling for USD 1400!... And these are after-market devices, folks; the lowly $330 'Classic' runs OS 10.3, Android apps, and what's available on Amazon's app store.

    The 'Classic': "...There’s no reason to sugarcoat the typing experience, it’s fantastic with ridges and depressions on each key, so you know where your fingers are on the keyboard. Pair the keyboard with the touchpad and selecting, copying and pasting text is an even better experience than on a dedicated touchscreen..."

    I'll buy the Blackberry Classic, rather than the abortion featured here, thank you very much.

    1. Fred Goldstein

      Re: Where do these rocket scientists come from?

      I retired my Classic and got a KeyONE, since in practice the Android in Classic was almost useless. The Amazon store didn't have most important apps and there was no access to the Google ecosystem that most apps now depend on. Google screwed them badly, for no good reason.

      What smartphone reviewers often miss is that reviewers are fans of fondleslabs, and thus don't get PKBs. We PKB fans are often, like me, incapable of using slabs -- it requires good eyesight and hand-eye coordination, and usually pointy-thin fingers like Beelzebub and Steve Jobs. The reviewer has trouble adapting to a PKB because it's not meant for him, any more than a wheelchair is meant for a track star.

      I wish the Titan Pocket were just a bit longer, so it would have an Android-friendly aspect ratio. It might then be a good replacement for the KeyONE, which hasn't gotten an update in maybe three years (it's at 7.1.1 without years of security patches). But as a tiny novelty with a square screen, it won't do. Onward is still MIA and rumor is it will be very expensive. I'm in the US on Verizon so it needs to support that network, which Unihertz does.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloatware

    This sounds interesting and may be the thing to replace my ageing crackberry, but......

    Is it bloated with android and google crap/trackers along with embedded sh!t from facebook, amazon and the rest?

    And can you freely install decent email client and web browser to it? Rather than whatever useless apps they bundled it with?

    Does it work without a google account/registration ?

    Will it happily work with GPS disabled for months on end?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unihertz Titan-No "Pocket"....

    I have an unlocked Unihertz Titan, that I brought to T-Mobile and have been happy with it's performance, compared to an iPhone XR, on Sprint. Happy that phone lease is over. As I own the phone and am on T-Mobile's 55+ Unlimited plan, my Mobile bill is less than half, what it was on Sprint or any of the other vendors. I'm happy with the Unihertz Titan. To be honest, this Titan Pocket is just, too small for my hands. And as it has no 5 G, it wouldn't be any sort of upgrade, for me. I'm good. A hipster might be into it, but I'm good with the Unihertz Titan, unlocked, bought from Amazon for under $400.00

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