- Small and pocketable device
- Sharp, clear display
- Responsive performance
- Good battery life
- Speaker distortion at higher volumes
- Some call quality concerns
- Disappointing camera zoom
If you're looking for a very small, yet very capable device, the Aria is worthy of your consideration.
The HTC Aria is the second Android phone to join the AT&T lineup. This petite powerhouse includes Android 2.1, a five megapixel camera with video capture, GPS, WiFi wireless networking, and Bluetooth 2.1.
It is currently available from AT&T for $130 with a new two-year contract and a minimum data plan of $15 per month or higher.
BUILD & DESIGN
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the HTC Aria is that it is tiny in comparison to most of the recent smartphones. It is significantly shorter and narrower than the HTC EVO 4G, and though it’s roughly the same size as my old LG Dare, it is much thinner. It is also very light, weighing in at just 4 ounces.
The back of the case is covered in a soft touch material that is comfortable to hold and helps to improve grip. The back does tend to get rather warm, especially when used for long periods such as catching up on the news with MobiTV. Once you stop using the phone for a while, it quickly cools down. The warmth is not uncomfortable or concerning, but it is noticeable.
The display on the HTC Aria is bright and vibrant, and even looks good outside. MobiTV looks great, with sharp images. I didn’t see any ghosting or pixelization issues during my testing, and I’m very pleased with the display overall.
It is significantly smaller than some of the other recent smartphones out there, so there is a some more scrolling involved in reading long emails or viewing web pages, but I didn’t find it to be annoying or frustrating. I did find myself using the device in landscape mode much of the time, but that could just be a personal preference — I prefer a widescreen view most of the time.
The Aria doesn’t have a physical keyboard. The virtual keyboard is well laid out, but it can be somewhat difficult to use since the screen on this device is relatively small.
I’ve found during my testing that the virtual keyboard works far better in landscape mode, which has the added bonus of allowing me to keep a better grip on the phone. I can use the keyboard in portrait mode, of course, and if I do I find that it is easier to use one thumb than to try and use two in “power texting” mode as I might on a larger device.
Other Buttons & Controls
The Power and Sleep/Wake button is on the top of this device, as is the standard headphone jack. The Volume Up/Down control is on the left side.
The Home, Menu, Back, and Search “buttons” are actually touch-sensitive areas on the front, just under the display. Below that you’ll find the optical joystick, which works pretty well, but seems a bit too responsive and “twitchy” for my taste. That’s ironic, considering that I have the cursor speed on my laptop cranked up as fast as it will go. I suspect that there might be a small issue here that may be fixed in a future firmware update.
I was concerned at first that the back cover of the phone could be difficult to remove, because each corner has a screw with a triangular head. Fortunately the fancy screws are more for show than for function, because the back cover of the phone is easily removed — just poke your fingernail in the depression on the top of the case and pull off the back.
Once you do that, you’ll find that the battery compartment is shocking yellow. The SIM card slot and microSD card slot are located just below the battery in the same compartment. The microSD card can be removed or swapped out without having to remove the battery.