The HTC Gratia isn’t attempting to dethrone the Desire HD, it’s a very different proposition- with a shrunken frame noticeably smaller than the rest of the HTC family. Although the innards may have required some adjustments, it still comes packed with HTC’s Sense range of Android widgets and features, auto-focus five-megapixel camera, and FM radio
What we like
Although the pearly white backing on the Gratia is plastic, the sturdy quality construction of the phone wins through, and it all feels reliably comfortable in the hand.
The petite 3.2-inch screen size is where HTC’s Sense software has really come into its own. The keyboard shortcuts mean you can quickly hammer out text replies and emails, while the Friend stream and news widget also does a great job of streaming updates from Facebook, Twitter and your favourite news sites.
We found that the phone smoothly moved through the menus and through our messages and emails. there’s not as much processing power here in the smaller Gratia, but it rarely showed through normal day-to-day use.
We were also impressed by the bright, vibrant screen. We were surprised to learn it actually has a relatively low resolution; perhaps we were tricked by its size, but we think it looks better than a lot of its bigger screened rivals. There’s also a respectable five-megapixel camera that takes decent snaps in good light.
The Gratia sees the welcome return of HTC’s stylish optical trackpad. It makes scrolling through menus a breeze, and is useful when the smaller screen makes using the touchscreen a little difficult.
What we don’t like
Although this tiny giant is able to punch above its weight, it occasionally stutters and even stall on graphically intensive games and multitasking. Although standard webpages display quickly, any flash-powered web-pages would sometimes lag.
The built-in camera does a good job, but without a flash, there’s a limit to the times you’ll use it. The small screen obviously means its not the best phone for showing off photos and videos. A smaller phone means a smaller battery, and although there should be less strain from the 3.2-inch screen, with moderate use, you’ll find yourself charging the phone every day.
The Gratia has already existed for half a year already (albeit in the US, under the moniker of the HTC Aria) and its performance may look very sluggish compared to newer forthcoming mid-price smartphones. That shouldn’t detract from the solid design and the Sense interface, which makes the HTC phones so easy to use.
We like how it doesn’t have to take up our whole pocket, and with Android 2.2 (Froyo) it is compatible with plenty (though not all) of the apps from Google’s Android Market. The white version we played with was also a refreshing change from the black-grey-metal wardrobe most Android phones come dressed in.