At CES 2010, AT&T announced it would introduce an HTC Android phone this year. True to its word, it just unveiled the HTC Aria. Similar to the HTC HD Mini in design, the Aria runs on Android 2.1 with HTC's Sense user interface and includes a good deal of features for its size. It's certainly not the most powerful Android device on the market--power users might want to wait for the recently announced Samsung Captivate--and we're upset that AT&T has once again blocked third-party app downloads. However, the Aria is a solid midrange smartphone that's certainly better than the Motorola Backflip, AT&T's other Android offering. The HTC Aria costs $129.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. We think it should cost a bit less--$100 would be the sweet spot--but its price isn't unreasonable.
Though the smartphone design trend appears to be moving toward "bigger is better," the HTC Aria is representing for the little guys. At just 4.1 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing 4 ounces, the Aria stands in stark contrast to the HTC Evo 4G . While you might not get that ginormous screen that the Evo has, the Aria's petite size makes it easy to slip into a pants pocket and more comfortable to hold as phone.
The Aria's screen measures 3.2-inches diagonally and has a 320x480-pixel HVGA resolution. It's not the biggest or sharpest display we've ever seen, but it's clear, bright, and surprisingly adequate for use in most tasks. The Aria's capacitive touch screen supports the pinch-to-zoom multitouch gesture, so if you have any problems seeing something on the display, you can easily magnify it. The only issue we ran into with the display is using its onscreen keyboard as it's pretty cramped, particularly in portrait mode; however, with the built-in accelerometer, you can rotate the phone and use the landscape keyboard that has slightly more room.
HTC Sense provides you with a nice user experience on the phone. You have seven home screen panels that you can customize till your heart's content with such widgets and shortcuts as the Friend Stream, Group Contacts, and weather. You can even switch "Scenes" to customize another set of panels based on themes--such as work, play, travel, and social. Though the Aria supports the Leap screen that shows a thumbnail view of all your home screens, it does not offer live wallpapers.
Below its display are four touch-sensitive buttons--home, menu, back, and search--and an optical joystick. There are no buttons on the right side, but there is a volume rocker on the left. There's also a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack on top and a Micro-USB port on bottom. The camera is located on the back, while the microSD and SIM card slots are behind the battery door. Despite the screws on the four corners, you can pull off the back cover. It requires a little work to pry off, but there's a small divot on top of the device to help get you started. Also, like the HD Mini, the interior of the phone is yellow.
AT&T packages the HTC Aria with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a 2GB microSD card, a wired stereo headset, and reference material. For more add-ons, see our cell phone accessories, ring tones, and help page.
Despite its diminutive size, the HTC Aria is a well-stocked smartphone. The handset runs on Android 2.1 with the HTC Sense user experience, but HTC has not announced plans for an Android 2.2 Froyo upgrade for the Aria yet. However, according the company, it is working closely with Google and its partners to bring updates as soon as possible. That said, HTC representatives said they expect some of these update during the second half of the year.
With the Aria, you get the usual Android staples such as Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps Navigation, a dedicated YouTube app, and QuickOffice. HTC throws in a couple of its own extras as well, including its Twitter app, Peep, and Footprints, as does AT&T. The carrier includes some apps for its services such as AT&T Navigator, Yellow Pages Mobile, AT&T Radio, AT&T Family Map, and MobiTV. However, note that a majority of these apps require a monthly subscription--for example, AT&T Family Map costs $9.99 per month--though some have a complimentary trial period.