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HTC Tattoo review

Posted by Dark Legion 10/23/2009 ,

This phone proves that Apple isn't the only one that can bring both fun and functional applications to the mobile world
HTC was the first company to get into bed with Google Android with the G1, and since that release it’s managed to squeeze out a number of handsets – the HTC Magic and HTC Hero – which have shown Google’s OS to be a real contender in the mobile phone world.

The only problem so far has been price – something the HTC Tattoo sets out to change. The Tattoo is a lower-cost Android option which will be available through Vodafone for around £25 a month. Although there is no pay-as-you-go option available (the first PAYG Android will be the T-Mobile Pulse) it just proves that no matter what your budget, there’s now an Android phone out that will cater for your needs. But does this mean that HTC has cut corners bringing the phone to market? Well, yes and no.

While the HTC Tattoo isn’t the best looking phone around, its curved exterior fits snugly in the hand and it’s compact enough to throw in your pocket without any unsightly bulge – it’s durable too, the handset we had felt like it could withstand most everyday knocks and scrapes without a scratch.

And if your not a fan of the silvery black chassis, then HTC is giving you the option to buy clip-on skins with cool tattoos on them (see what they did there?) meaning that the phone can be customised to cater for your tastes.

As with the HTC magic and Hero, the handset is touchscreen, but this time HTC has opted for a smaller 2.8-inch screen and decided to go with resistive technology and not capacitive. Essentially, this means the response times of the screen are a lot slower than that of its bedfellows and you have to physically press that little bit harder to get a reaction. This isn’t as bad as it sounds but when you are used to the effortless touch of, say, the Hero you will notice a difference.

The HTC Tattoo does have one big thing going for it though, and that is the Android’s 1.6 ‘Cupcake’ update. This has transformed the Android Market store (essentially a much smaller version of the Apple App Store) and added some great little things to the phone, like easier switching between camera and camcorder, and also the inclusion of a visual battery count. This is great because it shows you just what apps are sapping your battery life.

We must say, though, that the HTC’s battery life was excellent. Even after we hammered it with hours of music and video playing, there was still enough juice to ring some mates.

Included on the handset is a 3.2MP camera which has average performance. It’s passable but let down by the lack of flash. The same goes for video – you’ll be able to upload it to YouTube no problem but don’t expect any Spielberg like shots.

When it comes to the Android OS, HTC has decided to add its own Sense UI interface to the phone, which was last seen on the Hero. This is an awesome decision as it makes the phone that bit easier to use, with seven home-screens (count them!) to house your mountain of programs. It also means you get location specific apps which tell you exactly what the weather and temperature is like where you are, which is nice.

The HTC Tattoo is also well-equipped for all your social-networking needs. There’s a Twitter app, and Facebook and Flickr connectivity from the off, which means the phone acts as a great portal to your online social life.

Couple this with one-click access to Google Maps, Calendar and YouTube and the Tattoo shines. It’s also got superb connectivity with both Wi-Fi and GPS on board. And when it comes to playing back media, there’s a more than adequate video and music player. Also included on the phone is an FM radio, which is a nice touch.

Even better is the on-board 3.5mm jack which means you can use your tried and trusted earphones to listen to your phone’s music.

Disappointingly, though, the HTC Tattoo is a tad annoying to text with, and this is all because of the size of the screen. Although there is the option to use QWERTY in landscape mode, you’re better off flipping it over and texting in landscape. We haven’t got the chunkiest of fingers but many a mistake was made.

HTC has excelled in bringing Google Android to a more affordable level with the HTC Tattoo. Although the touchscreen on the phone leaves a lot to be desired, the phone is great for the price and Android’s 1.6 update proves that Apple isn’t the only one that can bring both fun and functional applications to the mobile world.


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