HTC Tattoo review: Your phone, your ink

GSMArena team, 12 March 2010.
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Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Pretty poor camera

The HTC Tattoo is equipped with a 3 megapixel fixed focus camera with no flash of any kind. That should be enough to keep your expectations reasonably low, but even then the Tattoo manages to disappoint.

The camera interface is pretty simple with little controls and few customization options. There is a camera/camcorder switch and a gallery button. The confirm button serves as a shutter key. Since there is no autofocus the lack of a dedicated shutter key with half-press action is no big deal.

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The camera user interface

Tapping the viewfinder reveals the digital zoom bar on the left. Hitting the "Menu" reveals five buttons on a tab at the bottom of the screen, the latter leading to an advanced settings menu. There you can set the metering mode, sharpness, saturation and contrast of the photos and you can add a viewfinder gridline to assist your framing.

The quick settings appearing in the viewfinder handle image resolution, white balance and brightness. You can also activate a self-timer (2 to 10 second lag) from there.

As you can guess the available options are quite outdated as there's no sign of stuff such as face, smile or blink detection, automatic panos, full resolution burst shooting modes and other modern stuff that has long been available on cell phone cameras. At least geotagging of photos is available as an option.

To make matters even worse the HTC Tattoo image quality is poor. The phone insisted on underexposing, producing dark images with undeveloped shadows. Not to mention the excessive sharpening that adds a huge number of artifacts.

The amount of resolved detail isn’t that bad and the colors are close enough but the general result is plain bad. You can check it out in the photos below.

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HTC Tattoo camera sample photos

Synthetic resolution

We also snapped our resolution chart with the HTC Tattoo. You can check out what that test is all about here. Again it’s hardly the best performer we have seen.

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HTC Tattoo resolution chart photo • 100% crops

Video recording

The HTC Tattoo video isn’t much of a treat either. The phone captures CIF video at 15 fps, which is almost as good as no video recording. Bringing the resolution down to QVGA increases the framerate and fixes things up a bit but videos still don’t get as smooth as we would have liked.

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Camcorder mode

The camcorder interface is almost identical to the still camera's. It sports a setting for picking between MP4 and 3GP (H.263) encoding, which theoretically should give you the choice between smaller file and a higher-quality video. In practice the low resolution makes sure that the differences aren't really so obvious.

Besides all the negative comments about the still images are valid for the videos too so in the end you don’t have much usable footage.

HTC Tattoo camera video sample

Great connectivity

The HTC Tattoo offers excellent connectivity at a bargain price. 7.2Mbps HSDPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 are the highlights but the handset also features quad-band GSM and USB 2.0.

Accessing the connectivity options can be done via the Main Menu by looking up Wireless controls under Settings.

Thanks to the Sense UI implemented in the Tattoo, there are quick homescreen widgets for turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on or off. If you have already configured wireless networks or previously paired devices, they will be connected automatically.

Wi-Fi support is excellent. It's very easy to get running, with no need to dig in the menus or meddle with various settings. Just click on the desired network, type a password if needed and there you go.

Bluetooth support is far from being so good though. It's limited to headset use and does not support file transfers. At least the A2DP support is there.

Synchronizing your data couldn't be easier - it's just that you mainly sync with the Google services. For those of you who prefer desktop syncing with Outlook or Outlook Express, the HTC Sync comes in handy. It is a nice tool for quick syncing your contacts and calendar events with PC (Outlook) and works just fine for all HTC Android handsets.

The Tattoo can be used as a USB 3G modem under Windows. You need to connect your device to a PC with HTC Sync installed. When done, you should enable the “Mobile network sharing” setting in the USB to PC menu.

A great browser suffers the resolution penalty

The HTC Tattoo comes with the traditionally cool Android web browser with snappy and intuitive UI but loses points on the QVGA display. With this kind of pixel count only a small part of most pages can fit the screen and still be legible so you will need to do lots of panning.

There is no Flash support of any kind, which is another pity.

That aside, the Tattoo browser is acceptably fast (though we have seen better) and the interface clean. The application is based on the same open source WebKit platform which promises some pretty decent user experience. Pages load decently fast and sweeping gestures work pretty well.

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Browsing GSMArena.com on HTC Tattoo

The form auto complete functionality and password manager score another point for the Tattoo browser. The web browser also rendered well most of the pages we threw at it and we are very pleased with the results.

Finally, there's the option to have multiple web pages open at the same time. If you hit the Windows button in the browser menu, you will see all the currently opened pages and you can choose which one of them to view. Switching from one page to another involves nice transition effects.

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Multiple tabs are supported too

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