HTC Aria Review

I got an HTC Aria earlier this week and have been using it full time ever since. This is my first Android device.  I’ve got to play with other Android devices on Verizon and Sprint, so I was able to compare how it works to the other Android devices on the market.  The HTC Aria is a sleek looking touch device. The device is as thin as an iPhone 3G(s) but shorter and narrower. It feels great in the hand and the heft to it makes it feel very solid, but it’s small size can make it difficult to type and text when in portrait mode. Landscape mode is best for typing on this slim phone. The soft coated paint on the back makes the device feels like it’s already in a case and the best part it doesn’t attract dust and lint. The battery life is decent. I can get a full workday’s use out of it, but don’t expect it to go a full 24 hours without charging.

What surprised me about the phone is the quickness of it. Sliding through the menus and opening apps were quick and responsive. The Aria uses HTC’s Sense UI and it adds a lot of flair to the interface. Those who have used other HTC Android phones will feel right at home with it. As my first Android it took me awhile to get use to all the different menus and the entire interface. Coming from the iPhone and Blackberry this Android device is a breath of fresh air in a market where the dominant OSes are getting stagnant.

With Android all your Google contacts, emails, and calendar are easily synced up leaving one the think why Apple is charging for MobileMe and why RIM doesn’t have anything similar. If you’re a Google Voice user then Andriod is a must-have. It intergrates seamlessly with your phone and there’s no need to fiddle around with an app or use a web browser.  Android allows you to customize what you want to display on your phone and how to display it. The widget feature is what makes it possible.  The Android Market is not as extensive as Apple’s (Who is?) but it still has a boat load of apps. One thing that’s holding the Aria back is AT&T. They’ve locked down the device so apps can only be install by the Android Market. It really defeats the purpose of an open-ended device. But for the most part people won’t be bothered by it, it’s only the power users who want the ability to side-load apps onto their phone.

There are a million comparisons I can make with the iPhone and Blackberry and what I can say is that each of those devices do well in certain categories and poorly on others, and Android is no exception. There are things that Android definitely does better than the iPhone and Blackberry and there are some areas that it needs some more polishing, but the road ahead is very bright. If you’re stuck on AT&T and looking for a non-iPhone touch device the HTC Aria can easily fit the bill. But if you’re not bound to a particular network you have plenty of Android options such as the upcoming Droid 2, Droid X, and Sprint’s EVO.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Google services integration
Snappy performance
Solid fit and finish
Responsive capacitive screen

Can’t side-load apps
Comes with Android 2.1 (Hopefully it gets Froyo 2.2 soon)
Can be too narrow for typing
Optical track pad is useless
No flash for camera