HTC Gratia Hands-On Review

As a mid-tier offering, the HTC Gratia doesn’t appear to get the same notice as the Sensations, Desires and Incredibles, which is a shame because it’s a good phone and will suit those who want a small Android phone but don’t have the cash for a top-end device. If you haven’t heard of the Gratia before and you live in the US, that’s because over there it’s known as the Aria. It’s largely the same device.

To get the specs out of the way, it’s an Android 2.2 device with a 3.2″ 320 x 480 touchscreen. Weights in at 115 g and measures 58 mm wide, 104 mm tall and 12 mm thick. All the expected radios and gadgets – 3G, wifi (b/g), bluetooth, GPS, compass, 5 MP camera, microSD expansion slot – the full specs are on HTC’s site (though it lists the Android version as 2.1).

As you’ll see from the pictures below, the review model had a white plastic back that had a slightly matt finish to it. The phone felt comfortable in the hand and the detail of the extra screws on the back gave the Gratia an “industrial” edge, which I liked. I didn’t try to find out if the screws actually held anything together or were only for effect.

Taking the back off reveals the SIM slot, the microSD slot and the battery. At the bottom left, the two contacts are for aerials that were embedded into the back cover. The micro USB connector is in the middle. The back covers the sides, top and bottom as well.

Side on, there’s a sense of the shape and how it feels in the hand. It’s not a thin phone, but it’s not a fat one either.  It’s comfortable. As with most devices, there’s a little bit of bevelling to make it feel thinner than it really is.

Enough on the physical, what’s it like to use as a phone? Unsurprisingly, it’s much like every other HTC Android 2.2 phone. It comes with the HTC Sense enhancements and there did seem to be a few little extra launcher customisations that I hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, I didn’t have another phone handy to compare and they may simply be incremental updates that went along with 2.2.

Generally, the phone was responsive using both the touchscreen and the trackpad. Animations were smooth and scrolling up and down lists was good. The usual slew of apps was present and the Gratia has access to the Android Market if you need more. Audio and video playback was fine with no glitches or jerkiness on the files I tried. Some other reviews said the Gratia was “underpowered” but I can’t really say that performance was an issue, though I’m not a big game player which seems to be the focus of the issue. And of course, if you do have lots of apps open, it will begin to slow down.

Setting up apps with accounts to access email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. was all by the numbers, as it were. I was up and running with the Gratia within minutes of turning the phone on.

Battery life was ok – I got a day’s worth of work out of it with some to spare and that’s with a bit of email, bit of surfing, bit of music listening. A typical day as far as I was concerned, but the Gratia will need recharged overnight for the next day.

Pricewise, off-contract the Gratia is generally available around £275 with the best prices being close to £250. I was unable to find any UK mobile telco carrying the Gratia at present so I can’t comment on contract prices.

Overall, this a fine mid-range smartphone at a fair price. There’s plenty to recommend and not too much to complain about. For someone looking for an Android 2.2 phone that’s not going to break the bank off-contract, this is a good choice.

Thanks to HTC for the loan of the Gratia.