The HTC Aria comes in a standard looking box with standard issue stuffing. There’s a microUSB cable in there, a one-piece headset and a very sleek charger. The microUSB cable is used for both data connections and charging.
There’s also a 2GB microSD card to get you started – if you want more storage, the HTC Aria can handle up to 32GB cards. You’ll find the usual pile of user guides too.
The HTC Aria stands at 103 x 57.7 x 11.7 mm – the exact dimensions of the HD mini. The handset ranks well among other compact smartphones in terms of pocketability. The weight of 115 grams is more than we expected, but combined with the screws and the seamless casing, it gives an impression of a rock solid phone.
We already established that as far as looks go, the Aria is HD mini’s twin. For some reason though, HTC decided to swap the nice matte finish on the rear with a piano black glossy plastic.
It’s never in a state where it’s not covered in fingerprints. Glossy black plastic isn’t very good at hiding smudges (though they are harder to see when light isn’t hitting the back directly).
The yellow inner body under the cover is actually quite nice to the touch – shame that it’s covered – it’s better than the piano black rear and it gives the Aria a more industrial look.
The HTC Aria is all black with a seamless minimalist design. There’re barely any physical controls – a power/lock key, volume rocker, and the optical track pad. It’s by no means drab though, several chrome accents and the four screws on the back give it a very interesting look.
The Aria is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde – it’s sleek and elegant, but the black/chrome combo and the exposed screw heads give it a bit of an “off-road” appearance. It would make fashion-conscious geeks quite happy.
The HTC Aria is in the middle of the pack in terms of screen size – it’s got a 3.2” TFT capacitive touchscreen of HVGA resolution. The 3.2” screen of the HTC Wildfire has half the resolution (QVGA) and the HTC Legend has a 3.2” HVGA screen but it’s AMOLED.
Still, the LCD on the Aria looks pretty good – it’s bright with good colors (not as good as OLED though) and the viewing angles are fine too. Sunlight legibility is not among the display’s strong points though: direct sunlight makes it very hard to read.
The HVGA resolution is the most common Android screen res, and also the minimum resolution that looks good on a 3+ diagonal.
If you’re coming from a WVGA screen though, you’ll spot the difference. It’s easily visible in the browser for example – you can’t fit as much text on the screen as you can on the HTC Desire.
Below the display there are the four capacitive keys – home, menu, back and search. The HTC Aria also has an optical trackpad, which comes in handy when editing text and you need to go back a few characters to fix a typo.
Above the HTC Aria display is the earpiece dead center and a status LED to the left of it. On the right, there’re the proximity and ambient light sensors.
The left side hosts the volume rocker, which works throughout the interface, controlling the ringing and system volumes. It’s well sized and solid to press.
The right side is completely bare – by now you probably know HTC aren’t too fond of putting shutter keys on their phones. Instead you’ll have to rely on continuous auto focus and the optical trackpad serving as a shutter key. There’s touch focus too.
The mouthpiece is at the bottom of the HTC Aria, right next to the microUSB port. There is no cover over the connectivity port to keep dust and moisture away.
The same holds true for the 3.5mm audio jack on top. It is placed on a sloping surface so the jacks you plug in will always slightly stick out even if they are properly connected. Also on top, sitting on the nice chrome accent is the power/lock key.
The HTC Aria back hosts the unprotected but deeply embedded camera lens and the speaker grill, which are combined in one chrome element. There’s no flash, so low-light shots won’t be easy.
The other prominent feature rearside are the four screws in the corners. They look like they’re holding the back cover – they aren’t really, but it’s enough to give it that rugged look. Once you pop off the back cover, you’ll notice that under the piano black cover is the matte yellow plastic of the inner body – even the battery is yellow.
It’s a missed opportunity if you ask us – the yellow is the same as some power tools which, coupled with the prominent screws, could have made the HTC Aria one of the toughest looking handsets around.
Anyway, once you get over the color, under the hood you’ll find the SIM card compartment, the microSD card slot (for cards up to 32GB) and the 1200 mAh battery. Despite its location under the rear cover, the microSD card is fully hot-swappable.
Going back to the battery cover for a moment – it adds a good couple of millimeters to the width of the Aria. This is mostly for the sake of rounded edges, which give the illusion of a thinner phone, so it’s a fair trade-off.
The HTC Aria is powered by a 1200mAh Li-Ion battery, which is quoted at fifteen and a half days of standby and 6 hours of talk time. This is a bit less than the Wildfire, but it has a slightly larger battery and a lower res screen, which helps.
The HTC Aria not only looks sturdy, but it feels sturdy too. The back cover envelops not only the back but also the sides of the phone, and it fits very firmly with no creaks at all. Plus, it does create an impression of seamless bodywork.
The Aria is compact and will fit into any hand with the controls easily reachable. Pocketability isn’t an issue either, but you’d better have a napkin handy to wipe off all the fingerprints off the piano black plastic.
That plastic is very smooth and quite hard – after the few days that the Aria spent with us, there weren’t any scratches on it. But it does look likely to eventually get scratches, taking away some of its luster.
We should note that the AT&T version of the HTC Aria has the same matte back as the HTC HD mini, unlike the one we got. It’s a regional thing. Anyway, check in the store before buying it - it’s not a deal-breaker but the matte back is much better at hiding fingerprints.