HTC Tattoo review: Your phone, your ink

Your phone, your ink

GSMArena team, 12 March 2010.

OK retail package, could've been better

The moderately-sized retail box is not exactly full of stuff but it has the essentials: a charger, a software CD and a miniUSB cable to use with the charger or to transfer data.

HTC Tattoo HTC Tattoo HTC Tattoo
HTC Tattoo unpacked

In the box you'll also find a one-piece headset which isn't your only option though since the Tattoo is kind enough to offer a 3.5 mm jack. There are no extra covers obviously. The only bonus item is a 2GB memory card.

HTC Tattoo 360-degree spin

The friendly size is a key asset of the HTC Tattoo. It’s a neat and friendly, and feels surprisingly solid for an all-plastic phone. Standing at 106 x 55.2 x 14 mm this smartphone is no hassle to handle and carry around. At 113 g of weight it’s a stout little handset.

Design and construction

We’re most likely reviewing a phone that has nothing to do with your own HTC Tattoo. But before we look closely at the custom covers, let’s run over the basics. It’s a first generation Android phone and has the typically crowded navigation deck – including hardware call buttons.

The 2.8” touchscreen is on the small side really and the Tattoo is among the few droids using a resistive unit. Maybe it made sense to the designers given the limited screen estate.

The HTC Tattoo is compact and solid and the rounded edges make for a friendlier look and feel. It’s obviously a phone for the young but the graphite paintjob of the handset we’re reviewing certainly gives it a more mature businesslike appearance. It is nicely finished with blending shades of dark and light grey.

HTC Tattoo HTC Tattoo
A neat little droid

The custom covers are the real deal though. And the best thing you don’t only get to change one part of the body. It’s a three-piece suite really, for a complete disguise front and rear. HTC are keen to make money off their neat little tattoo shop here. You can order pre-designed covers or create your own with their customizing tool.

HTC Tattoo HTC Tattoo
The panel taken off and the naked Tattoo

There are plenty of options if you decide to indulge your artistic side – from background color and patterns to various shapes, symbols, images and text. The ready-made covers cost 11.99 euro and the ones you design are 14.99. Either way it’s a bargain for a brand new authentic phone cover.

Back to our HTC Tattoo though, the front panel does look like it could've accommodated a larger screen but the hardware buttons didn't leave much room for growth. Again, a 2.8" QVGA resistive touchscreen is nothing to write home about really, but it might have been the only choice in this price bracket.

The HTC Tattoo doesn’t have a stylus (nor is Android designed to be used with a stylus) so the only upside is that you can operate the resistive screen with your gloves on. Resistive units don’t have the sensitivity of capacitive displays and require a stronger push to register the tap.

The screen is on the small side (the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 mini had a smaller screen but also a custom UI designed for that screen size). Even though the Sense UI hasn’t been redesigned it’s still easily thumbable (the portrait QWERTY less so though). The other thing is, there won’t be multi touch even when the HTC Tattoo gets the 2.1 Éclair.

HTC Tattoo HTC Tattoo HTC Tattoo
The display fits the price bracket • not the best use of space though • the HTC Tattoo screen in the dark

The image quality is decent and, even if QVGA may be feared to make color banding more prominent, it’s not as easily noticeable on a screen this size.

Sunlight legibility is poor really. The Tattoo isn’t the best device to work with in the bright sun.

Above the display we only find the earpiece along with a status LED hidden under the grill. The phone has no ambient light sensor or a dedicated camera for video calls.

HTC Tattoo
The Tattoo has a status LED integrated in the earpiece

Reader comments

  • AnonD-646030

One of my favorite phone I have ever use

  • hamidreza1338

Please new software for download .

  • peggy

I want to know if the htc tattoo upgrade is out.