HTC Gratia – Small, But Has it All

We’ve been seeing quite a few big boys from HTC as of late with the recent arrival of the 4.3 inchers, the Desire HD and HD7. As a result, HTC’s slightly more modest Wildfire and HD Mini handsets have found themselves fading slightly into the background.

Enter the HTC Gratia, better known as the Aria outside of Europe, which sees the Taiwanese manufacturers return to the mid-range device. It still comes with all the HTC trimmings that we’ve grown to know and love but misses out on the ‘look at me’ characteristics of its larger counterparts. Change can be a good thing though, but has its trip over to the UK been worth it?

Design

Our first impression of the HTC Gratia was that it’s certainly a lot smaller than the handsets we’ve been dealing with recently, slotting neatly into our hands. We could get a really good grip over its petite physique which measures in at 103.8 x 57.7 x 11mm but the Gratia still shows that it’s as hard as nails thanks to its rock solid back plastic cover which is characterised by those well known screw heads.

The 3.2 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen is surrounded by a glossy black border which provides extra leg room for the four touch-sensitive navigation keys and optical trackpad at the foot of the front panel. Each side of the Gratia is tastefully decorated by a single connection – the volume rocker, microUSB port and 3.5mm headphone jack. Just like the design, the rest of the HTC Gratia is easy to get to grips with.

Power and Operating System

Being a mid-range handset, the Gratia isn’t out to impress in the spec department and after having a play, we felt that anything greater would simply overwhelm it. For starters, the 600MHz processor may sound a little measly but it makes for a reliable team mate and allowed us to glide through menus and homescreens hassle free.

The Gratia comes with both Android 2.2 Froyo and HTC’s Sense user interface which makes using this phone even more enjoyable. We’ve always been fans of the added touches like the animated weather forecasts and leap view, which enables users to see all seven homescreens. Friend Stream pulls all your updates into one stream and allows you to post your latest status to all your networking sites in a single step.

The display shows the Gratia’s inner beauty in the crisp quality it deserves. However, we had a slight niggle with the virtual portrait QWERTY keyboard as it requires a slight element of concentration to hit the right letter. If your concerns lie with this factor though, simply turn the handset into landscape mode to reveal a larger keyboard which makes typing a little easier.

Internet: The HTC Gratia comes with Flash support which was a pleasant surprise, considering that this phone doesn’t initially appear to be for browsing fans based on its smaller display. However, as great as it was to view websites in their full glory, we ended up getting slightly frustrated with the screen size because it was impossible to read anything without zooming in a considerable amount. The Gratia’s pinch to zoom technology was responsive enough though, but the processor showed its weakness when faced with having to load words, pictures and video content in one go and struggled to keep up.

On the up side, websites and YouTube footage rendered well and the text resizing function was also efficient.

Camera: There’s a 5 megapixel camera on board the HTC Gratia, which also doubles up as a camcorder. While it doesn’t have a flash, the manufacturer has installed a variety of shoot modes and basic adjustment functions, not that they help much in the dark.

The camera interface is a little strange as there’s no dedicated hardware shoot button. Instead, you just press on the screen to take a picture. HTC scrimped on the memory, meaning the Gratia wouldn’t take any photos before we inserted a microSD card, fortunately a 2GB one comes in the box to tide you over.

Other tech specs:

  • Music player. Supports AAC, AMR, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV, WMA files.
  • Video player. Supports 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV files.
  • 512MB ROM and 384MB RAM
  • MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
  • aGPS with Google Maps and HTC Footprints
  • 3G and Wi-Fi support
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Digital compass
  • Proximity and light sensors
  • G-Sensor
  • FM Radio
  • Up to 7 hours talk time

Any downsides?

We knew not to expect the most technologically advanced smartphone when we first met the HTC Gratia and while it exceeded our expectations in many ways, the browsing experience was mostly let down by being too advanced for this phone’s capabilities. Of course, Flash support is a great asset but overwhelmed the Gratia most of the time.

Conclusion

The HTC Gratia has clearly been given just as much attention as the top range smartphones the Taiwanese firm has been churning out lately, and it balances the company’s portfolio nicely. If you’re after a handset which does the job in hand, without causing a scene the HTC Gratia is definitely one to consider.

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