HTC Tattoo in-depth review -

Look and feel

The plastic chassis actually belies the somewhat pricey Tattoo, as does the modest sized screen and pixilated display. The hardware was the main drawback of this phone.

Ease of use

The HTC Tattoo kicks ass when it comes to usability, and also syncs everything from Outlook and Hotmail contacts to your Facebook friends.

Features

The Sense interface is as efficient as ever, as is the email function. GPS was a bit hit and miss, and a lack of flash on the five-megapixel camera was noticeable in low light conditions.

Performance

The hardware on the HTC Tattoo may not be the best we’ve seen, but the software certainly makes up for this. It offers fast browsing, with a surprisingly accurate resistive touch-screen.

Battery life

A battery life that offers 520 hours of standby time is more than acceptable.

 HTC Tattoo Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:56:33 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

10

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Facebook and Google sync, excellent user interface, desktop-like browser

Cons:

Slow GPS, mediocre camera, average build quality

Everyone’s releasing an Android phone, but no company has taken to it quite like HTC. The Tattoo is a step away from the high-end likes of the Hero though. Compact and lightweight, the Tattoo is a good social networking, email and internet phone, but we really wish someone would do something about those mediocre cameras that seem to make it onto all Android handsets.

Small screen

At £333 SIM-free, the Tattoo isn’t actually all that cheap, but it looks that way. The 2.8-inch screen is on the small side, and its low-res 240x320 display noticeably pixelates background images and icons.

On the back of the plastic body, the Android mascot peeks out of the battery cover, though this is exchangeable for a range of funkier designs.
Unfortunately, as part of the cost-cutting the Tattoo has a pressure-sensitive resistive touch-screen, as opposed to the capacitive sort that allows quick, light swipes – and the difference is noticeable. Typing was a bit slower, as we had to press harder for input to be recognised, and scrolling across screens was more of a drag action. We didn’t appreciate this drop in usability, but had to admit that as far as resistive screens go – this one is accurate and responsive.

HTC’s Sense interface is back, and it’s as powerful as ever. You get seven home screens, each customisable with shortcuts and widgets (including HTC’s own Twitter client ‘Peep’), and specific combinations of shortcuts can be saved as ‘Scenes’ – helpful if you want to divide work-related from social-related programs.

On start up, you’re asked to sync your Facebook and Flickr contacts with phone contacts, and you can also run HTC Sync to match contacts and calendar with Microsoft Outlook. Then there’s over-the-air syncing with Google Mail and Calendar, and by this point, we’d added just about everyone we knew and everything we had planned into the phone.

Web and GPS

Mid-range specs, mid-range speed. The full HTML, flash-enabled browser loads mobile and non-mobile sites within five to eight seconds, and non-mobile sites look just the way they do on a desktop, including interactive content. Pictures load with similar speed, though the screen resolution limits the display quality.

Double taps zoom in and out to full page view or REALLY BIG, and an on-screen button provides smaller zoom increments. We grudgingly gave props to the resistive touch-screen for its accuracy in the browser too – links were reasonably easy to hit, even small ones. No tabbed browsing unfortunately, but you can open multiple windows, viewable in a carousel.

Email is a perfect experience with push support for Gmail, Hotmail and Microsoft Exchange accounts, so emails drop in as they arrive (rather than when your phone performs a send/receive). You can also set up accounts for other webmail on your phone. The on-screen keyboard is excellent to type on, thanks to a top-notch auto-suggest system that corrected even our most horrendous mis-types. Portrait orientation provides access to quite a small keyboard, but it was fine for our hands, and landscape actually felt more comfortable than on larger phones.

GPS was the surprise letdown of the Tattoo – it took around 10 seconds to get a precise fix (though in the phone’s defence, we were in notoriously GPS-hostile central London). The Tattoo is preloaded with Google Maps, including Street View, and while routing was fast, the GPS was a little jerky when keeping up with a moving person.

Camera

Three megapixels with auto-focus is decent for a mid-ranger, but you still have to have a pretty steady hand to get a clear photo. In good light, colours are very warm, and even a little more intense than they are in real life. But don’t even try an action shot, our waving subject’s arm was so blurred that it looked like a giant cotton bud.

Of the dozen Android devices currently on the market, the cameras are all decidedly mediocre and that’s largely down to the fact that none of them ship with flash. With the Tattoo, you can adjust white balance and brightness, but without a flash, low light shots are impossible. Post-snapping, you can share your genius with Facebook and Flickr – always a welcome feature – though by this point, what we’d really like to see is a Twitter function.

Conclusion

Google Android plus HTC’s Sense interface means you just can’t lose. Let’s face it, almost everyone stores contacts and calendar info on Google and/or Outlook; add that to the Facebook and Flickr sync, and the Tattoo hits that holy grail of phone use – as a hub for your life, your whole life, man. The hardware may not be top-notch, but the software means this phone plays as well as any of its high-end brothers.