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HTC Gratia review: HTC Gratia

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Won't budge on the budget

The fact that the Gratia manages to carry across so much of the core capabilities of its higher-powered and more expensive siblings -- such as the HTC Desire Z and Desire HD -- is commendable, but inevitably, some corners have had to be cut in order to get this device down to a mid-range price.

Although the Sense UI does a commendable job of keeping things smooth and silky, the Gratia's 600MHz processor struggles when you have multiple applications running. The 384MB of RAM may eclipse the paltry 256MB that was once standard-issue on Android phones, but the increased demands of Android 2.2 arguably require something more substantial.

Graphically complex games also have a tendency to stutter slightly on the Gratia, which is hardly surprising when you consider many developers are insisting that a 1GHz CPU is the base requirement for fluid performance these days.

As an entertainment device, the Gratia is similarly humble. The 5-megapixel camera may be on equal terms with the shooter seen on the Nexus S when it comes to basic numbers, but the lack of a flash is disappointing and the poor quality of the video recording is a real let-down.

The music player is equally uninspiring, but this isn't too much of an issue because the Android Market is packed with excellent stand-alone media apps, such as WinAmp, PlayerPro and PowerAmp. A 3.5mm jack ensures compatibility with your favourite pair of headphones, too.

Cunning connectivity

With Wi-Fi and 3G included as standard, getting connected with the Gratia is relatively straightforward -- although we did notice that when compared to the Nexus S and Nexus One, the phone struggled to capture a solid 3G signal at times.

The Gratia's Web browser is reasonably fast and renders pages effectively.

The pre-installed Web browser can display Flash, but that creaky old 600MHz processor isn't up to the task of rendering it terribly well. Aside from that, hitting the net with the Gratia is a mostly pleasurable experience. Pinch-to-zoom is included, and the refreshingly minimalist interface means the majority of the phone's 3.2-inch screen is devoted to displaying the page -- just as it should be. Text is reformatted intelligently, making it easy to catch up on the latest news when you're on the move.

Because of the Gratia's diminutive dimensions, HTC has chosen to power the phone with a 1,200mAh battery -- only slightly less powerful than the beating heart of the mighty Desire HD. While that pairing was particularly ill-suited given the hungry nature of the hardware, in this case the matching makes sense. You'll still need to charge the Gratia at least once a day if you're a heavy user, but you won't find the well dry after just a few hours, as was the case with the Desire HD.

Conclusion

You could think of the HTC Gratia as a replacement for the ageing HTC Legend or the mid-range Wildfire, but it's already half a year old and some would argue that devices such as the Motorola Defy provide more power for the same amount of cash.

What the Defy lacks is the brilliant Sense UI, which enriches the user experience considerably. If you're in the market for a truly pocket-sized Android handset running 2.2 -- and you're not overly concerned with having luxury features such as 720p HD video recording or a meaty processor -- then the Gratia is definitely a front-running contender for your money.

Edited by Nick Hide

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