HTC Gratia review

HTC's latest budget Android smartphone might look like a bargain, but it's actually a false economy as Sandra Vogel discovers.

The HTC Gratia

HTC has been stealing headlines with its recent announcements of high-end smartphones, so the Gratia has slipped under the radar somewhat. That's probably not something HTC is very disappointed about, as this is a middle of the range smartphone which first appeared in the US some while ago as the HTC Aria. It has had an Android operating system upgrade since then, but many of the other specifications remain unchanged, and will leave many professional users nonplussed.

The HTC Gratia is smaller and lighter than many of the current crop of smartphones, and that will please those who don't need super large screens and don't want to deal with the inevitably larger dimensions those screens entail. The more compact size also means that smaller hands ought to have no trouble reaching right across the screen for one-handed use.

The inevitable downside is that the 3.2 inch screen simply can't accommodate some kinds of content as well as its larger, higher resolution competitors. The comparatively cramped screen resolution of 320 x 480 pixels does the Gratia no favours at all when it comes to reading web pages or watching video - details can be tricky to discern in videos for example.

Text entry inevitably suffers due to the small screen too. When oriented vertically the onscreen keyboard is too small for most people to use accurately. It's more comfortable to use when held horizontally, but even here, people with stubby fingers may find they can't tap out emails as accurately as they would like.

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As with some of its other Android phones, HTC has incorporated an optical touchpad into the area beneath the screen. The ITPRO office was divided between those who liked it, using it as a quick way to find links on a webpage for example, and those who thought it was an unnecessary distraction on a touchscreen phone.

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