One of the best features of the HTC Gratia is its supremely responsive touchscreen. It uses a capacitive model, which requires contact with your finger but no direct pressure. Whether it’s down to the improvements made in Android 2.2 or the type of panel used, we found the phone significantly more responsive than an HTC Legend running Android 2.1.
Using a standard TFT LCD with a 320×480 pixel resolution, the 3.2in screen doesn’t sound all that impressive in a smartphone market filled with screen jargon terms like “Super AMOLED” and “Retina display”, but its performance is impressive. Viewing angles are superb, contrast is good and the resolution is high enough to make both text and images appear very sharp – unlike the lesser Wildfire with its pixellated 240×320-pixel display.
The maximum brightness of the display can’t match an AMOLED panel, which will produce more vivid whites and colours at this setting, but in our experience few smartphone users are willing to take the battery life hit and retina searing consequences of cranking up brightness to this extent anyway.
The speed of the Gratia’s touchscreen comes in particularly handy when browsing the web. Zooming using the multi-touch pinch gesture is quick, text re-renders in a flash and the keyboard is unusually accurate and easy-to-use for a screen of this size. With a lesser touchscreen, typing can prove tricky in portrait mode at this size, but here it’s very effective.
This responsiveness comes in similarly handy when using the built-in GPS Navigation. A feature common to all Android 2.2 phones, Google Navigation offers a full Sat Nav-style navigation experience, complete with voice instructions and separate settings for car drivers and pedestrians. As when browsing the web, you can zoom in and out with the multi-touch pinch gesture, and while you’re reliant on a web connection to download the maps used, from Google’s servers, performance in this app was impressive.
While 2011 will see Android phones gain much more power, thanks to dual-core processors, the HTC Gratia proves that it’s not necessary to still get a great deal out of the Android OS. Using this phone is a pleasure.