The HTC Gratia is the European twin of the HTC Aria (an AT&T only device launched exclusively in the US).  The Gratia was first launched in Europe, and subsequently worldwide. It is positioned in the midrange segment; its target market being phone users who want a relatively cheap and cost effective alternative to other Android heavyweights.

The Gratia gives a good first impression – its smooth, tapered edges make it comfortable to handle, its 103.8 x 57.7 x 11.7mm dimensions make for a compact and highly-pocketable Android (a rarity these days), and at 115 grams, it weighs just enough to convince the user of its solid construction, while still managing to be a relative lightweight for its range. It has a 3.2’ TFT capacitive touch screen, which is rather diminutive when compared with other smartphones which commonly have a 4’ display. It has a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels and can display 256,000 colours, which is sufficient to say the least, but not nearly as good as what an OLED screen offers. Another weak point is its sunlight legibility – it is not the easiest to read in direct sunlight.


The Gratia comes with a proximity sensor, which enables auto turn-off of the screen, and prevents the phone from vibrating when it is placed beside the ear. The accelerometer comes in handy too; enabling auto-rotation of the screen and features like Flip-to-Mute (flipping the phone mutes an incoming call) and Quiet Ring On Pickup (moving the phone lowers the ring volume, when the phone is on a flat surface).

The Gratia runs Android 2.2 Froyo, which is impressive considering that other droids in its range typically run Android 2.1, including the Aria. The differences between the Android 2.2 and the Android 2.1 will be highlighted later on.

Powering the Gratia is the Qualcomm MSM 7227 600 Mhz processor with 384 MB of RAM; another impressive feature for a phone with its price tag. Multitaskers will certainly be pleased with its efficiency. It can support up to 32GB microSD cards.

The Gratia comes loaded with the popular, well-designed 3rd party user interface shell, the HTC Sense UI. HTC users familiar with the Sense UI will recognise the large clock which also provides weather forecasts occupying a huge portion of the main homescreen. Users get seven homescreens, all of which can be populated by an array of widgets of their choice, such as Stocks and Twitter widgets. Furthermore, the Android Marketplace offers a wide variety of downloadable HTC widgets to fulfil users’ needs. The Sense UI comes with 6 custom Scenes – which are basically preset homescreen setups. Each Scene comes with different homescreen widgets and wallpaper. The Leap View option allows users to view the thumbnails of all seven homescreens simply by pressing the home key, or by “pinching” the screen. Combined with the Sense UI, the Android 2.2 provides top-notch App performance and a fuss-free android experience.

With the Gratia, social networking has never been easier. Keeping abreast of the latest updates by your contacts is a breeze, be it via widgets, apps or the remarkable “People” tab, which is actually the Gratia’s contact encyclopaedia – its phonebook. The various phonebook tabs hold almost every single detail of each of your contacts; from the basics such as email addresses and numbers, to their latest events and updates from different social networks, to their online photo albums.


The Gratia has a 5 megapixel built-in camera with an image resolution of 2592×1952 pixels. Additional features are autofocus, face detection and support for photo geo-tagging. However, photo quality is nothing to shout about and continuous auto focus is draggy. Combine that with the lack of flash assistance and a dedicated shutter key, and you get a less-than-enjoyable shooting experience. The camera is also capable of recording VGA resolution video, which is not one of the Gratia’s strong points either. Avid video-makers will notice that the videos only manage a surprisingly low bitrate. Users who are into video calling will also be disappointed to know that the Gratia does not come with a secondary camera. All in all, the Gratia’s fails to impress in this department.

Although the Gratia may not be the best camera phone in the market, it certainly delivers on the connectivity front. It supports 2G (quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE) and 3G (HSDPA – up to 7.2mbps; HSUPA – up to 2mbps). Local wireless connectivity comes in the form of WiFi 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth v2.1 with AD2P. It also comes with a microUSB cable which connects the phone to the user’s computer to enable battery-charging, access to the phone’s disk drive, phone syncing and USB tethering. A highlight of the Android 2.2 platform is its ability to turn the phone which runs it, in this case, the Gratia, into a portable WiFi hotspot that supports up to 8 encryptable connections.

Users who enjoy browsing the web will be pleased to know that the Gratia comes with a powerful flash-enabled browser. The flash support is a welcome addition, but is unfortunately only ideal for basic flash games. The browser itself is easy to use, and allows for smooth, hassle-free web browsing that users have come to expect from Android devices.

Pros and Cons
The Gratia has a few things going for it, namely its compact design and pocketability. It performs well in its basic functions; offering above average in-call sound and loudspeaker quality. The Sense UI works like a charm too. The major weaknesses of the Gratia lie in its camera. Poor photo and video quality, as well as the absence of a secondary camera, dedicated shutter key and flash assistance will definitely put off some users. Poor sunlight legibility also detracts from its attractiveness.


Overall, the HTC Gratia is a capable smartphone. Its Froyo OS offers some nice little titbits, and it is efficient enough to meet the expectations of users who cannot afford high-end Android phones. Having said that, it is unlikely to pose a major threat to other midrange droids, some of which offer a more complete set of features at a lower price.

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