The HTC Aria is definitely snappy, with fast performance. It is extremely responsive to my every command, opening apps and loading web pages very quickly indeed. It has truly earned the nickname of “petite powerhouse” because the small size is deceptive when it comes to a discussion of performance.
This smartphone runs Google’s Android OS 2.1, with the HTC Sense user interface layered on top. Rather than replacing Google’s standard UI, HTC’s enhances it with additional homescreens and widgets.
Call volume is very good, but there have been some problems with low hissing and static evident in my test calls. I hear the party on the other end loud and clear, and they can hear me. Unfortunately they can also hear a persistent low hiss, even when I’m in a very quiet environment like my office.
It is impossible to tell from the relatively limited number of calls I made during the review period whether this is a serious issue or a random glitch; AT&T coverage in my area can be somewhat spotty. Calls made from my house did have better sound quality than the ones made from my office, so I’m leaning toward a network issue as the root of the problem.
Of course all of the standard Google mobile apps are included on the Aria, such as Gmail and Google Maps. Calendar, Contacts, a calculator, and a clock keep you organized and on time. There is no task management app preloaded on the phone.
The Quickoffice viewer for Microsoft Office documents and an Adobe PDF Viewer come preloaded, as well as Mobile Banking and a stock tracker. AT&T includes a Wi-Fi hotspot locater, FamilyMap, AT&T Maps, and AT&T Navigator.
The screen on the Aria is small enough that you probably won’t want to try and accomplish much work on it — it’s fine for viewing Microsoft Word documents, for example, but I wouldn’t want to try and use a spreadsheet on it. It works great for keeping you organized, though, so if your needs are relatively basic and what you need is mainly a personal organizer, rather than a laptop in your pocket, the Aria should be able to fulfill your needs.
A music player is a standard part of the Android OS. The volume and quality on the external speaker are slightly disappointing, with significant distortion at higher volume levels. Sound quality is much better with headphones.
As mentioned previously, the streaming video service MobiTV looks great — the picture is surprisingly sharp and clear.
The Aria also includes Facebook and Peep, a Twitter client, plus Friendstream, AT&T Radio, and a built-in FM radio. A YouTube client is also included, and the video quality there is even better than MobiTV.
There aren’t any games or game demos preloaded on the Aria, but there are plenty of choices available on the Android Market. I tried several different ones, and the experience was good for each one due to the Aria’s snappy, responsive performance and high quality display.
The 5-megapixel camera on this smartphone has face detection and is also capable of video capture. Most of my photos came out rather nicely, aside from the usual problems with overexposure on sunny days, etc. I was slightly disappointed with the zoom quality though; when I used the optical zoom my pictures came out a bit fuzzy, with low detail.
There is no camera button on the side of the device; you take photos by pressing the optical joystick. It works well, minimizes problems with camera shake, and is much easier to use than a side button. You will need to use both hands when taking photos; when I tried to use one hand, pressing the optical joystick with my phone, I had a hard time holding the phone still for clear shots.
The camera on the Aria is good enough for everyday situations, but cannot be considered to be a replacement for a standalone digital camera.
Battery life is very good, though not spectacular. My results were much better when I turned off Wi-Fi; otherwise I was hunting for the charger by the end of the day, or at least worried that the battery could die during my commute home.
I never actually ran out of power, though, and found that charging the Aria up at night was good enough to get me through the day. Of course the Aria is much smaller than many other smartphones, and has a 1200 mAh battery. For comparison, the much larger HTC EVO 4G and the Motorola Droid X have 1500 mAh batteries.