HTC Aria Android smartphone

HTC Aria review: The HTC Aria aims to bring the full Android experience to a smartphone that is small and compact

HTC Aria
  • HTC Aria
  • HTC Aria
  • HTC Aria
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Has a compact design but its features are still comparable to larger smartphones, good build quality, HTC Sense UI

Cons

  • Glossy body is slippery and hard to keep clean, rear cover creaks slightly when pressed, no camera flash

Bottom Line

The HTC Aria is ideal for those who want an Android smartphone, but don't want one of the bigger Android devices on the market. The Aria's downsizing has had a minimal cost when it comes to features.

Would you buy this?

HTC's latest Android smartphone, the Aria, is exclusive to Optus and provides all the features and benefits of more expensive HTC smartphones in a compact form factor.

The Aria smartphone looks stinkingly similar to the HTC HD Mini smartphone. Like the HD Mini, it's targeted at users who find larger phones like the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S too big for their pockets. The Aria may be small, but it is still as well put together as you would expect from an HTC handset. The sleek, curved edges means the Aria sits comfortably in your hand, while the four fake screws in each rear corner are a nice touch, as is the silver area surrounding the camera that also doubles as the speaker grille. A metal bar at the top edge of the Aria houses the power button. There is a silver volume control on the left edge of the phone, and a clickable optical trackpad sits below the four standard touch-sensitive keys (home, menu, back and search).

Our main complaint with the HTC Aria's design is its glossy black finish. Although it looks attractive, it quickly becomes a grubby with fingerprints and is impossible to keep clean. This finish also means the phone is susceptible to slipping out of your hands if not gripped tightly. We also found the rear cover creaks slightly in certain areas when pressed. An odd but interesting touch is the internals of the HTC Aria: most parts, including the battery are finished in a bright yellow cover that is apparently based on HTC designer Horace Luke's Audi.

HTC has kept the Aria's price down by opting for a regular TFT capacitive LCD screen rather than the excellent AMOLED display used by phones like the Desire and the Legend. Thankfully, unlike the HTC Wildfire the Aria's resolution is a respectable 320x480 pixels, the same as the Legend. Its viewing angles aren't the best, but performance in sunlight is reasonable and the screen is bright and clear. The capacitive touchscreen makes text input a positive experience, though the 3.2in display means the keyboard does feel a little cramped.

The HTC Aria runs the 2.1 version of Google's Android operating system and it includes all the regular features and functions of more expensive Android smartphones. Access to the Android Market for third-party apps, an excellent notifications taskbar and automatic and seamless synchronisation with Google services are all part of the experience, as is HTC's Sense UI. The Aria can have up to seven home screens for live widgets and shortcuts, and you can pinch the screen to quickly display them and select an active screen.

The Sense UI includes Friend Stream, which integrates all of your social-networking contacts, including from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, into a single "stream" of updates; People, which combines all forms of contact with an individual in your phonebook; as well as News, Facebook, Web Bookmarks and HTC's much-loved weather widget. Finally, Footprints allows you to take a geotagged photo and store the image in a particular category, then instantly share it with others via e-mail.

HTC says it is "hoping" the Aria will be upgradeable to the latest 2.2 version of Android (called Froyo) but hasn't specified a timeframe. Froyo will add full Flash support, built-in wireless tethering, and the ability to store third-party apps on your SD card, as well as a range of other improvements.

The HTC Aria has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus, but the lack of a flash makes night-time photography problematic. Other features include a built-in accelerometer, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a digital compass and a GPS receiver. The Web browser displays Flash content and supports multitouch zooming. The phone has a microSD card slot for extra storage located behind the rear battery cover and HTC includes a 2GB microSD card in the sales package. The HTC Aria runs a slightly slower processor than the flagship Desire (600MHz compared to the Desire's 1GHz processor) but we didn't experience any lag or slowdown during general use.

The HTC Aria is exclusive to Optus and will be available in mid-October for $0 upfront on Optus' 49 cap plan over 24 months. The plan includes $450 worth of calls, 1GB of data and free access to a number of social-networking services including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Foursquare.

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