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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.