HTC Tattoo Smartphone Review

By on June 29, 2010
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We look at HTC’s slightly lower cost Android device that is targeted towards the younger audience.

Editor's Score
The Verdict:
Although it doesn't cost a lot, the lower resolution screen and specs dont necessarily make the HTC Tattoo shine.

The HTC Tatto is HTC’s first low-end Andriod based handset targetted towards a younger crowd. The reason this handset is called Tatoo is because with the purchase of this phone, HTC allows you to design your own back cover. You send the image over to them and you get your personalized back cover with your tattoo in the mail for a truly unique phone. We received this tiny device for review a couple of weeks back and inside the small iPhone like packaging, the HTC Tattoo comes with a charger, a headset and a 2GB MicroSD card.

Since this is on the lower-end of the HTC product ladder, we expected the specifications to be on the lower side as well. Equipped with a 528MHz Qualcomm CPU and 256MB ROM/512MB MB RAM, this Android 1.6 based device is nowhere near as zippy as HTC’s other models like the Desire or Legend. Add to that a 2.8″ QVGA screen and you’re looking at a phone that is not only a bit slower to operate but harder to navigate as well. It does feature an HSDPA equipped radio along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS meaning its well connected.

Below the screen, you have the four traditional Andriod keys- Home, Menu, Back and Search. Under these you have a round d-pad as well as the call/end green and red keys. The left side features the volume rocker while the top boasts a 3.5mm headphone jack. At the bottom, you have a mini USB connector that charges and syncs the device. A dual colored notification LED sparks up above the screen- inside the ear piece grill.

My first few minutes with the new HTC Tattoo were disastrous to say the least. The phone refused to recognize my SIM card when I first started it and I had to remove and re-insert it. Even then it failed to acquire a network signal for a minute or two. Once that was done, I successfully made a call and then tried to call my own number, only to get the message that my phone was switched off. Apparently, the unit had crashed. Another restart. Luckily, third time proved to be a much better experience and the phone hasn’t crashed since.

Equipped with SenseUI, the HTC Tattoo is generally a good Smartphone to use. Due to its lower specs and the older 1.6 version of Android, it gets a bit slow at times but not to the point of frustration. I would have thought that the lower 240×320 resolution display would have ruined the SenseUI experience but HTC has done a pretty good job of scaling things around. For those of you that don’t know, SenseUI is HTC’s user-interface added on top of the OS. The one found on Tattoo allows you seven home screen across which you can add shortcuts and widgets that spice up your device from a UI point of view. Other things that SenseUI includes is a nice keyboard and a dialer that lets you select contacts using the alphabetical keys of the numeric keypad.

While the UI scales well to the display,it becomes an issue is trying to type on the keyboard in portrait mode. Even with auto correction enabled, it’s not an exercise that you would want to go through. I suggest you turn the phone to landscape format whenever you want to type on it. The screen also becomes extremely hard to read in direct sunlight which has been an issue with most touch-screen based Smartphones. Lastly, the lower 320×240 resolution is not supported by a lot of applications on the Android market so your choice of downloading and using apps on the HTC Tattoo will be a lot more limited than a regular Android handset. (Note: Android Market isn’t officially available in the UAE.)

Call quality and reception on the HTC Tattoo is on par with most of the HTC Smartphones which means its pretty good. The unit does not get hot to operate either and while I found the device a bit small to be comfortable, people with smaller hands will appreciate the size. The camera is 3.2 megapixels but not very good in terms of quality. Shots taken at night had a red tint to them while daylight shots were a bit more blue that I would’ve liked. The FM radio works nicely with the headset connected and it’s a feature that the younger audience will appreciate.

Surprisingly, the HTC Tattoo has a pretty good battery-life. After a full day of general usage that included phone calls, emails and web browsing over Wi-Fi as well as tweets and facebook updates, I was left with 40% charge. When I woke up the next morning, this was dropped to 15% so although the HTC Tattoo wont last you a second day, it should very easily take you through an entire day even if you use the phone heavily. Charging is pretty quick as well with under two hours required to fully charge the device.

Priced at AED 1,599 (US$435) or 1,699 with the Tattoo voucher, the HTC Tattoo is a bit expensive for its target market- the younger consumer. HTC does a good job by providing Wi-Fi and GPS as cellular data can be expensive for the younger crowd but the overall price of the unit might make one think twice.


Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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