Ignore the Gratia's budget price-tag, as HTC's latest pint-sized Android smartphone offers a little something for everyone
Editor's Review of the Gratia
Originally launched in the States as the HTC Aria, the HTC Gratia was pinned to hit the UK as the sequel to the hugely-popular HTC Wildfire. It's now March 2011, and following the announcement of the handset's actual successor, the Wildfire S, can the HTC Gratia still prove that the best things come in really-really small packages?
Design & Build
The HTC Gratia bears little resemblance to the Wildfire, instead echoing the curves of the not-so-popular HTC HD Mini with an iPhone style casing for good measure. The overall result is a sleek looking handset, and it stands out from the crowd with its Black, Green and White colour variants, something Apple never quite managed to get around to. To top it all off, the matte plastic casing feels solid and robust, and tips the scales at a hearty 115g.
While we were won over with its stylish design and pocketability, we're not so keen on the visible screws perched on its rear. They look oddly industrial compared to the rest of the phone, and dominate the battery covers' otherwise smooth, sleek appearance. Still, adopters of the rugged Motorola Defy may find them appealing, but they certainly have a somewhat acquired taste.
In keeping with its small and compact form factor, the HTC Gratia sports a Wildfire-esque 3.2 inch touchscreen with a 320 x 480 resolution. It may not be on par with the Desire HD, but the result is a bright and vibrant display, with surprisingly wide viewing angles. Below the screen are four backlit touch-sensitive keys, used as Home, Menu, Back and Search buttons, alongside an optical trackpad. While its Blackberry-style navigator came in handy for scrolling through text, we'd definitely prefer a physical key in a more intuitive place.
While in terms of design the HTC Gratia matches up with its pricier siblings, HTC had to cut corners somewhere, which lies within its CPU. The Gratia's 600MHz processor struggles when switching between multiple applications, and we'd argue that a 1GHz CPU is the base requirement for fluid performance these days.
OS & Interface
2011 may be the year of Gingerbread, but the HTC Gratia arrives packing Google's Android 2.2 OS, accompanied by HTC's much-loved Sense UI. Sadly, the handset is missing some of the key elements of HTC's intuitive UI in particular its cloud-based Sense.com security portal. Still, the Gratia still comes equipped with HTC FriendStream, which places your social networking updates, messages and emails into one easy-to-get-to-grips with feed.
With multiple customizable homescreens, live wallpaper and the super-sleek Android notifications bar, HTC's Sense is easily the most advanced Android skin available, especially when compared to the likes of Sony Ericsson's TimeScape and Motorola's Motoblur.
Multimedia & Storage
On paper, we were chuffed to see that the entry-level HTC Gratia arrives packing a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera. While it snaps shots quickly and makes good use of its autofocus, the handset's lack of flash is ultimately the camera's downfall. Our shots often looked dull and full of noise, and we'd have liked to of seen a dedicated camera key. Sadly, the VGA video capture failed to impress us, too.
The onboard music player is nothing special either, but like all Android handsets, it's easy to get the hang of and gets the job done in an aesthetically-pleasing manner. Still, if you're after an advanced media player, there's always the Android Market for that.
As you'd expect from an Android smartphone, the HTC Gratia arrives stuffed with both 3G and WiFi connectivity for fast download speeds. With Android 2.2 onboard, the handset also arrives with Adobe Flash support, but that measly old 600MHz processor isn't quite up to scratch when it comes to rendering multimedia content. Asides from that however, accessing the net on the Gratia is one the handset's stand-out features, and although its screen is small, pinch-to-zoom and text reflow seemed to work perfectly.
It may pack a weedy processor, but HTC has wedged a beefy 1200mAh battery into this compact handset. It may not have the juice of the Desire Z or Desire S, but it promises up to 400 hours on stanby, and up to 7 hours of talktime on a single charge.
It doesn't boast the most high-end specs or functionality, but there's plenty of things the HTC Gratia does well. Really well, infact. If you're not overly concerned with having luxury features such as 720p HD video recording or a meaty processor, then the HTC Gratia is certainly worth the money, and blows similarly priced handsets out of the water.
HTC Gratia News
The HTC Gratia is facing further delays, and won’t start shipping for another 2 weeks. Despite HTC’s confirmation that the budget blower would be arriving in Europe in February,Â eXpansys has revealed that the “affordable”Â Android handset won’t start shipping until later this month. Speaking to Dialtosave, a spokesperson at the electronics retailer confirmed that it’s expecting [...]
According to eXpansys, the Froyo-equipped HTC Gratia will be landing in the UK in “less than 5 days”. It looks like the Gratia is well on track for its February release, as it seems the mid-range smartphone could be hitting shelves before the end of the week. Although eXpansys claim they have “no confirmed lead [...]
Ahead of its imminent launch, the HTC Gratia has received the unboxing treatment, giving us our first in depth look at the mid-range smartphone. Guys over at GSMArena have treated us to the clip, in which they first take us on a tour of the handset’s HTC Sense UI, dressing its Froyo OS. It may [...]
HTC may have only confirmed its UK availability earlier today, but the HTC Gratia is already available for impatient punters to pre-order. The handset cropped up on Clove.co.uk, who are offering the handset with a £274.99 SIM free price tag, making it much more affordable than HTC’s highly-specced smartphones. No exact release date is mentioned, [...]
It looks like the HTC Gratia is still on track for its Q1 UK release, as HTC has confirmed the entry-level smartphone will be available to punters from February 2011. Not only have they announced its release date, HTC has also revealed that the Android smartphone will be available in “Pearl White”, alongside its “Black” [...]
Reports that the HTC Gratia is facing delays have been denied by the HTC, who state that the handset will be landing in the UK in Q1 2011, just as they had originally planned. We earlier reported that the Froyo-equipped handset would be making its European debut in November 2010, and although late off the [...]
HTC Gratia Specifications
103.8mm x 57.7mm x 11.7mm
Full capacitive touch screen
Type: TFT LCD
Size: 3.2 inches
Resolution: 320 x 480
Scroller: Optical trackpad
Interface: HTC Sense
External: microSD up to 32GB
Included: 2GB microSD card
GPS with maps
Up to 7.2 Mbps download speed
Up to 2 Mbps upload speed
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack
Data: Standard microUSB
GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
5.0 megapixel camera
640p Video Recording
Battery Capacity: 1200 mAh
Talk Time: 420 minutes
Standby Time: 360 hours
Radio: FM with RDS
Audio supported formats
Playback: MP3, WAV, eAAC+
Video supported formats
Playback: MP4, H.264