HTC Gratia review: Body double
Android Market updated, looks much better
The HTC Gratia comes with a HVGA screen and Android Froyo, so the number of incompatible apps is very low. You get access to over a hundred thousand apps, many of which are well-made and very useful.
The structure of the Android Market is quite simple – a carousel of featured apps on top and below them, three sections (Applications, Games and Downloads). There is also a shortcut up there for initiating a search.
The top element is the major change in the Market. It sure is eye-catching but also takes up a lot of space. Also it’s a little redundant – it’s a featured list of apps, below which is another featured list. Luckily, once you get down to the individual sections of the Market, the carousel disappears replenishing the screen space.
The Applications and Games sections are divided into subsections (e.g. Communication, Entertainment etc.) so you can filter the apps that are relevant to you. Of course, there is also an option of displaying them all at once, but you will probably need days to browse them all that way.
The app detail pages have been redesigned as well and usability has improved. The install button has been moved to the top – the button is fairly big and prominent and it states the if the app is free or how much it costs otherwise.
Not that there was ever a big confusion about which apps are free (especially if you browse the Top Free section where it’s nothing but free apps). Installing an app has been streamlined though, so the update is worth it.
There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and with the most vital ones covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).
Unfortunately, the Market isn't augmented by the HTC Likes and HTC Hub apps, which provided yet more content (and interesting ways to access it). Those two are exclusive to the Desire HD and Desire Z for now.
We had high hopes for the HTC Gratia – but in the end, the impression it left on us wasn’t as good compared to the Aria from a few months back.
We thought that the update to Froyo would bring more goodies than it did – the Gratia runs almost the same software as the 2.1 Éclair-powered Aria and a lot of it needs a new paint job.
Of course, the speed boost and Wi-Fi hotspot support are welcome additions. We can’t expect a sea change anyway. The HTC Gratia is just a localized version of an old phone, a Europe-bound remake of the HTC Aria.
Still, the HTC Gratia is a great little phone and the one thing that can hold it back from taking over the old continent is only its pricetag. It’s a pricy little droid and while it can beat some of the competition, the situation isn't exactly rosy for our little Gratia.
The LG Optimus Chic E720 is cheaper still and it’s slightly ahead of the Gratia (on paper at least). It’s bulkier but again, much more affordable. The LG Optimus One P500 also fits the bill, coming in just below the Chic (the lower-res camera is the main difference) at a slightly lower price point.
In the Gratia price range are also phones like the rugged Motorola DEFY - water and dust resistant, with a 3.7” FWVGA screen, faster CPU, LED flash. The steel-clad Nokia C6-01 may not run the most exciting OS, but has a couple of aces up its sleeve – excellent high-res display, 720p video and a few other tidbits.
A metal casing is important to some (it is to us) – if you’re one of those, you’ll want to look at the HTC Legend. Very similar to the Gratia featurewise, the Legend has a sleek aluminum unibody and looks great (especially the black version).
The Samsung I5800 Galaxy 3 is surprisingly capable for a mid-ranger with Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n on board. The Samsung S7230E Wave 723 is a mid-range Bada – Bada has yet to gain Android-levels of popularity, but it’s a new thing to try.
In the end, the HTC Gratia is one of the best compact droids around – but it’s not a cheap date. If you can afford it, this mid-ranger will keep you happy but you need to discuss things with your wallet first before you head out to the store – saving up a little extra and going for the high-end might just be an option worth considering.