HTC Aria Review

Introduction and Design

For a good stretch of time, the Motorola BACKFLIP was the only choice that AT&T customers had to side with if they fancied the idea of experiencing Android. Even though there is now a version of the Nexus One that's compatible with AT&T's specific 3G bands, it's not sold through carrier stores domestically and carries a hefty full price tag of $529.99 – making it one hard sell to customers as it will present them with a stock Android experience. Things were beginning to look pretty sour when it came down to Android handsets for AT&T, but thankfully there was a break in the sky as out of nowhere the HTC Aria plopped itself onto a lineup that didn't quite breathe a decent Android experience. Bringing along a customized Android experience with Sense in tow, the HTC Aria might be small in stature, but its slim figure might deceptively hide something that's sure to impress any AT&T customers all around.

The package contains:
•    HTC Aria
•    microUSB cable
•    Wall Charger
•    Stereo headset


For anyone who quickly glances at the HTC Aria for the very first time, they may easily confuse it with the HTC Droid Incredible as it closely looks similar with its distinct circular optical pad. In actuality, it borrows some design styles in both that smartphone and the HTC HD mini – the rear portion is an identical replica to the HD mini. Very well sizing itself up in being the most compact Android smartphone for the US market, we adore its dainty looks that will slip inconspicuously into any pocket without much notice. It may not exude an innovative design, but the soft touch coating all around the handset makes it feel solid as it will repel most smudges and fingerprints. However, we were somewhat taken back by how heavy (3.80 oz) the device feels when you hold it – especially when it radiates a lean design from afar. Regardless, the handset feels well constructed and balanced enough to survive a good dose of punishment from everyday usage.

You can compare the HTC Aria with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

With some tight corners to work around on the handset, the HTC Aria offers a respectable 3.2” TFT display which has a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels and support for 262k colors. The limited confines is still more than manageable in working with Android as it's responsive to the touch and does well in displaying natural looking colors – however, the same can't be said about text as is is tiny in stature and require a closeup glance. Viewing angles on the phone are decent as we were still able to see the display in outdoor conditions where the sun was in plain view.

For something so small and every nook and cranny filled with something, we were happy to find a fairly well sized volume rocker and dedicated power button that offered a decent response when touched. Holding the phone naturally automatically allows for a comfortable grip as your fingers don't have to travel far to press either buttons. Just like the Droid Incredible, you'll find the circular shaped optical pad which also acts as a selection button – but we found ourselves rarely relying on it for navigating. The usual four touch sensitive buttons are found directly below the touchscreen which conflicts when typing a message with the on-screen QWERTY – it would've been nicer to move them down further as there is plenty of space towards the bottom of the handset to accommodate them. On the top edge, you can find the usual 3.5mm headset jack while the bottom side houses the microUSB port, microphone, and a small notch for a lanyard. The rear portion of the phone is identical with the one employed on the HTC HD mini with its distinctive four screws while the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera and speaker phone are found squarely towards the top portion. Removing the back cover, you might be fascinated by its internal yellow paint job as you'll be presented access to the battery, SIM card slot, and microSD card slot.

HTC Aria 360 Degrees View:


AT&T customers can breathe a sigh of relief as they are now enabled to experience one of the best customized Android experiences out there thanks to HTC's Sense UI. Just like some of the most recent smartphones to offer it, like the HTC Droid Incredible and HTC EVO 4G, everything works magnificently on the Aria. In contrast to them however, the HTC Aria is packing a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM 7227 processor under its hood. We were even more impressed at how more fluid looking it performed than some of its higher-end counterparts as it perfectly scrolls without any noticeable stutter – and yes, it looked surprisingly more fluid than the experience with the HTC EVO 4G.

The home screen consists of seven pages that can host various widgets, shortcuts, and folders. Some of the available widgets come with compact versions that do not take up much screen space, but others like FriendStream require a whole page. By the way, this is an application that provides the latest Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr updates from your relevant accounts. Moreover, it allows for simultaneous Facebook and Twitter status updates. We cannot call the program innovative, since it closely resembles the Happenings widget of Motorola’s MOTOBLUR interface, plus it cannot really replace dedicated applications for access to the mentioned networks.

You can save your home screen page settings in the form of themes called Scenes or, alternatively, use one of the preloaded ones made by HTC. We do like the “helicopter view” that shows all seven pages at the same time. You can enter this mode by double-pressing the home button that takes you to the home screen or simply “pinching” the screen. Thanks to the extra feature, you can get right to the page you need in a snap, without having to scroll pages until you get dizzy.

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You are allowed to set up several email accounts, but you will have to put up with the fact you cannot browse them at the same time, meaning only one can be active at a time. Like all other contemporary handsets, the HTC Aria offers automated email set up if you are registered with a popular service provider. Still, all settings relating to specific servers, like our own, require manual entry (it seems only BlackBerry devices can automatically handle the task).

As much as the touchscreen proved to be responsive for most occasions, the limited amount of real estate does make for some typos every now and then – but the occurrence is happily less when using the landscape option. Naturally, individuals with larger fingers will find the space offered by the 3.2” display to be cramped, however, using the compact QWERTY keyboard with XT9 predictive text enabled can easy the burden.

Internet and Connectivity:

Thanks to the peppy speed put out by the HTC Aria's processor, the web browsing experience is more than acceptable for most people as pages load quickly, render properly, and take advantage of Flash Lite support – all the ingredients in closely replicating that true desktop feel. Text might look fuzzy and unrecognizable from a zoomed out view, but thankfully the web browser will automatically re-size text with each zoom level you move to.

You can place voice calls in just about any part of the world with the HTC Aria as it's a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) device, however, it's dual-band UMTS (850/1900 MHz) connectivity will only enable it to receive 3G speeds domestically. Additionally, it offers 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi to allow you some form of data connectivity when abroad while Bluetooth 2.1 can be used as an alternative method.


Photo quality with the HTC Aria's 5-megapixel auto-focus camera is surprisingly pleasant and satisfactory – it produces sharp looking images, as long as you have a steady hand, but colors do have a harder tone to them. Naturally outdoor shots with good lighting came out the best, however, the quality took a slight nose dive for indoor conditions as they were more fuzzy looking. Images taken in low lighting conditions did produce some subtle color tones to compensate its lack for a flash. The interface is similar to other Sense UI phones from HTC as you simply tap an area to focus and press the optical pad to take a shot. Finally, there are also a plethora of options at your disposal to really fine tune the scenery you're shooting.

The VGA (640 x 480) videos that the HTC Aria captures may not be the most detailed, but thankfully they're more than agreeable to the taste of most individuals who want to preserve some candid moments. Videos looked pretty smooth thanks to its capture rate of 29fps and audio recorded had some slight static noise in the background, but it was still audible enough to make out conversations that were recorded.

HTC Aria sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution.


Since it employs a 3.2” display, the HTC Aria provides a tolerable video playback experience. The Aria was able to play a movie trailer encoded in H.264  720 x 306 resolution, which didn't stutter one bit during playback. However, audio from the playing video wasn't the most vibrant or powerful, but we'd imagine most people could overlook this one shortcoming as its performance was refreshing.

HTC's audio player is certainly not a sight unseen. It features various content filtering options and none that pertains to audio playback modification (lacks equalizer). In case you don't like that, you can always visit the Android Market and get one of the numerous players available there. Personally, we like "³" (also known as Cubic) best, because of its spectacular interface. Audio emitted by its speaker was more than audible with some sharp tones – that's as long as you don't lay the phone on its back squarely as it'll block the speaker.

GPS & Software:

The only software pack for navigation and maps that is pre-installed on the HTC Desire is Google Maps version 4 that brings certain novelties like information layers. If you decide to help the GPS module and activate it in assisted mode, getting your exact location pinpointed will take just a few seconds. Without it, you will have to wait for 4-5 minutes to find out where you are (after hardware reset) and less than a minute if you have already been located exactly.

If Google's turn-by-turn application doesn't float your boat, there's always AT&T Navigator on board to accomplish the same tasks. Additionally, there are also AT&T branded apps for your entertainment such as AT&T Radio and AT&T Maps plus a handful of third party ones like MobiTV, Where, and YPmobile.


Even though there was some static sounds which could be heard on our end when the volume was set to its loudest, setting it down a few notches removes that problem. Our callers did say that our voice sounded hissy on their end, but luckily there was no evidence of any background noise. When switching to the speaker phone, voices were also hissy with some sharp tones accompanying them. It's neither a good or bad experience seeing that we were still able to comprehend our conversations without much repetition needed.

The HTC Aria managed to retain a good connection to the network and didn't experience any dropped calls while we tested it out in the greater Philadelphia area.

Battery life manages to meet the expectation of lasting a solid day during our testing as we set it to automatic brightness and used the handset heavily for various functions. The manufacturer has it rated for 6 hours of talk and 372 hours of standby time.


Not everyone will want to lug around an Android smartphone that offers a screen size larger than 4”, but thankfully the HTC Aria fits perfectly for those individuals that want a great Android experience that's wrapped up in a compact body. As for AT&T, the HTC Aria offers customers one of the better experiences out there as it presents them a wonderful user interface that strategically can play to the specific needs of each person. Even though it may look small and puny versus some of the recent high-end Android offerings of late, the HTC Aria is still able to offer an intuitive experience – plus there's barely any evidence of choppiness or lag when navigating about the platform. Priced at $129.99 with a 2-year contract, it's price point may be justified with its respectable performance while still retaining a compact form factor that will surely attract people.

HTC Aria Video Review:


  • Compact size
  • Feels durable
  • Swift speeds
  • Smooth looking video playback


  • Average calling quality
  • Cramped QWERTY

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

9 Reviews

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