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HTC Tattoo review



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We're definitely fans of large touchscreen smartphones like the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and HTC Hero and even see a place for goliaths like the HTC HD2 and Toshiba TG01. However, we know many people prefer their phones to be smaller and more manageable, not to mention cheaper. Today then, we're looking at a small, low-cost Android smartphone, the HTC Tattoo.

This phone is very similar in form factor to the Windows Mobile-based Touch2 that I reviewed a couple of weeks ago with near identical overall dimensions (105 x 55 x 13mm) and screen size (2.8in). However, the Tattoo undoubtedly has more style to it. The gun-metal finish and symmetrical layout of the buttons on the front looks classy while the rest of the front is clean and simple. The back also has an attractive graduated grey/silver paint finish, and the little Android motif is a nice, fun touch to finish things off.

Unfortunately, we're less impressed by the build quality, which certainly goes some way to explaining why this is a cheap handset. The paint job, while nice, looks a little thin so we wouldn't be surprised if it wears away around the corners after several months. Likewise, the screen is a particularly soft plastic so will scratch easily. A case, therefore, will be a must for this phone since HTC doesn't provide one. Aside from these issues, the phone does feel reasonably solid. The buttons on the front also feel particularly well made and the D-pad is a practical alternative to the customary trackball of previous Android phones.

HTC hasn't skimped when it comes to hardware features. There's a proper headphone socket on the top and sound quality from it is good. Charging and data transfer are done via HTC's ExtUSB socket, which is compatible with mini-USB connectors and also doubles as a headset adapter. Meanwhile a microSD slot can also be found on the left edge, though you do need to take the back off to access it.

A camera is present but, like the one in the Touch2, it lacks autofocus and a flash. It also doesn't have the added bonus of increased picture taking speed as we only managed three photos in 10 seconds as opposed to the Touch2's five. Nevertheless, it's on hand for capturing that special, or not so special, moment. Also, video is included and it's perfectly adequate for quick clips of your friends to put up on YouTube.

Internally all the essentials are there as well, so HSDPA and EDGE make this a bang up to date 3G phone, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also present, while GPS and FM complete the wireless technology list. HTC lists a compass but this didn't appear to work with GoogleMaps.

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November 9, 2009, 7:25 pm

Google Maps only supports compasses in Street View. The maps themselves are fixed to North, always have been.

Still no mention of the app incompatiblity? Might be useful for anyone trying to choose between this and the Pulse.


November 10, 2009, 4:05 am

Just read that Google has bought Admob for $750 Mil,"Specialists for placing ads on mobiles" or words similar to that.

Any implications ?


November 10, 2009, 4:07 am

Apparently a lot of apps currently don't work due to the low res screen. May be fixed in future but has to be a big negative for getting a Tattoo. The Pulse seems way better value.


November 10, 2009, 7:30 pm

Frank, that's a company that distributes ads for mobile versions of sites. They're not some specialist in covertly sneaking banners into your homescreen or anything. ;)


November 10, 2009, 11:41 pm

You can buy replaceable covers for this phone, some of which come in fetching lurid hues. I suppose this makes a case somewhat less of a necessity, since you could always replace the cover when it starts to look tired...

Cliff Smith

March 28, 2010, 4:42 pm

I just got one of these on a contract from Vodafone, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. Mine has a matt black resin finish which seems to resist scratches well enough, and my mate who has a HTC Hero is jealous of my FM radio feature. I haven't found any apps yet that don't work due to the lower screen resolution.

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