HTC Gratia Review

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T, but without 3G.

Introduction:


Now before you say that the HTC HD mini has been reborn in the HTC Gratia, and other transcendent stuff, we assure you this is not exactly the case. The Gratia has an optical trackpad, which the HD mini lacks, different buttons underneath the screen, because it is running Android, and... well, that's it. It looks exactly like its North American twin the HTC Aria on AT&T, though.

On the inside, however, the difference is night and day. The HTC Gratia runs Android 2.2 Froyo, whereas the HD mmini was HTC's last handset with Windows Mobile. We don't blame the Taiwanese that they didn't want their top-shelf industrial design to go to waste, just because Microsoft made WinMo obsolete. The HTC Gratia feels like one tiny, but solid Android handset, so let's dive into the details...

What's in the box:

  • HTC Gratia
  • 1200mAh battery
  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • 2GB microSD card
  • Stereo headset with microphone
  • Quick guide and warranty leaflets


Design:

There are some negligible size and heft differences between the HTC Gratia, and the HTC HD mini, but unless you are a fairy, they are not noticeable. The phone comes at 4.10 x 2.30 x 0.46 (104 x 58 x 12 mm) and weighs 4.06 oz (115 g). Clad in its solid shell, with chromed metallic accents, and soft-touch plastic on the back, the handset actually looks heavier than it is.

This impression is enforced by the four open screws on the back, which make the phone look built like a tank, and heavy as one. While the first one is true, the HTC Gratia is actually light, comfortable to grip, and very easy to operate with one hand.



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

There is the typical for HTC optical trackpad underneath the screen, and four responsive capacitive buttons for Android navigation. The screen is the same 3.2” capacitive LCD display we know from the HTC Aria, with 320x480 pixels of resolution, able to show 262 144 colors. It is not very bright outside, but the colors are vivid, and the viewing angles are wide.


There is a 5MP camera on the back without any flash, flanked by the speaker grill on its left. Overall, the design of the munchkin is very appealing, exudes quality of the craftsmanship, and the phone is easy to handle. Our main complaint is that for access to the battery department, where the SIM card and the supplied 2GB microSD card are, you have to use a tricky way to take off the back cover, but that's why nature gave us opposing thumbs, we guess.  The four exposed screws add a lot to the solid industrial design looks of the HTC Gratia (they do not hold the battery cover), and they actually keep its innards firmly together, so we don't advice you trying to remove them.


The HTC Gratia comes in several colors – black, white and green, of which the green version really stands out.

HTC Gratia 360-degree View:





Interface, Messaging, Internet and Connectivity:

Despite that the HTC Gratia is powered by a Qualcomm chipset clocked at just 600MHz, the Sense UI overlay is extremely snappy, with virtually no lag while scrolling or swiping screens. The phone carries 384MB of RAM, and 512MB ROM for installing apps.

Unlike HTC Aria – the version with North American frequencies – the HTC Gratia comes with Android 2.2 Froyo out of the box. This, of course, is nothing to get excited about, considering that Gingerbread is already out.


We have reviewed this version of HTC Sense extensively here, and if you are hoping for the newest one, which has apps for offline navigation and remote phone management, you are out of luck. Sense UI here is the one found in the HTC Aria. Of course, there are some new additions in the main menu, courtesy of Froyo, like the Wi-Fi Hotspot app.

Messaging with the HTC Gratia is a tad slower than what you might be used to, mainly because of the small screen, which makes the keyboard feel a tad cramped. Once you get used to it, though, it's the same excellent HTC Sense keyboard we know and love.


Web pages look shabby at this screen size and resolution, but browsing is fluid, save for the pinch-to-zoom gesture, which brings about a slight lag. Due most probably to the 600MHz chipset, Adobe Flash Player 10.1 is not supported. The HTC Gratia has Flash Lite, so showing embedded Flash videos is a hit-and-miss affair, but most major video sites work.


The phone comes with 7.2Mbps HSDPA with Europe/Asia 3G frequencies. The rest of the radio gang consists of a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and A-GPS chips, as well as an FM radio with RDS. The GPS chip took about 4-5 minutes to locate us at first, but was locking its position quickly when we were connected to a data network.

Camera and Multimedia:

The camera interface of HTC Sense on the Gratia is cleverly tailored to the smaller screen, and the touch-friendly virtual buttons rotate instantly upon changing the screen orientation. HTC has somehow managed to cram its multitude of adjustments and effects in a smaller footprint, and everything is still very well-organized and easily accessible. We wish more camera interfaces are done like that.

The 5MP camera supports face recognition, flicker adjustment, while you can set the white balance and metering modes, as well as adjust brightness, contrast and sharpness pre-shooting. Grayscale, Sepia, Negative, Solarize, Posterize and Aqua are the available effects for photos, if you are so inclined.


The optical trackpad serves as a dedicated camera button, and the touchscreen can be used to focus anywhere on the frame. Shot-to-shot times are in the realm of three seconds with the preview mode off. The outdoor pictures themselves turned out soft and unfocused at several spots, the farther you go from the frame center. Inside the snaps are passable when there is enough light and you hold the handset still, but the noise levels shoot up, and detail goes down, when you start dimming the lights, as can be expected without a flash unit. The phone captures VGA video with 30fps on paper, which actually turned out closer to 20fps, when the day was dark, and with the same soft focus visible in the stills.





HTC Gratia Sample Video:

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The music player is with the typical excellent HTC Sense skin, and changes your lockscreen wallpaper to the album cover of the song currently played. The built-in loudspeaker is of average quality, as on most HTC handsets - not very powerful, and sounding a bit flat.


Video playback reaches up to 720x306 resolution, and the HTC Gratia supports H.264 and MPEG-4, but not DivX/Xvid out of the box. A number of free players from Android Market come to the rescue, so we are not even counting this as a drawback anymore.



Performance and Conclusion:

Call quality on the HTC Gratia served its purpose  – the sound in the earpiece was loud enough, but the   voices had a bit of an echo and digitally processed taste to them. The other party could hear us well, without parasitic noises in the background..

The 1200mAh battery is rated for about six hours of talk time, which is on the short side for an Android handset, and indeed we noticed the battery draining fast just with two or three hours of modest load, playing around with the phone.

In the end, the HTC Gratia made a good impression overall, thanks to Android 2.2 Froyo onboard, and the quality of design and materials. The HTC Sense UI is functional and pretty, while its performance was zippy, with no laggy business.

Our main gripes are the mediocre lens quality and display sunlight visibility, as well as the fact that prying open the back cover is quite cumbersome. We realize that else the phone wouldn't have this cool industrial design with the four exposed screws at the corners, which make it seem that it's built like a tank, so we are willing to overlook the nuisances arising.

Due to its small size and cool design, the HTC Gratia appeals to this segment of users, who prefer their smartphones in a more compact and manageable from. You won't be surfing the Net, or watching videos for long hours on this one, but other than that it makes a compelling all-around package.

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Other fairly compact alternatives are the Samsung Galaxy 3 or the LG Optimus One, and if you want to step it up a notch, you can grab the Samsung Wave, which will offer you great 5MP camera with LED flash, but restrict you to whatever is available in the Samsung Apps store.

HTC Gratia Video Review:

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Pros

  • Solid but compact design
  • Fluid interface

Cons

  • Mediocre sunlight visibility of the display
  • Pictures come out with soft, unfocused spots
  • Lack of Adobe Flash 10.1 support in the browser

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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