HTC Tattoo Review – Classic Android Handset with Small Screen

HTC Tattoo Review: Released towards the back end of 2009, the HTC Tattoo represented quite an interesting handset. It broke a trend at the time of ever-increasing large screens. This made Android accessible to those with smaller hands or pockets.

This was towards the beginning of HTC’s Android push which put many top-end handsets out there. These were largely based on the classics such as the HTC Touch, HTC Hero and HTC Magic. This phone represents a little bit of a step backwards in technology but at a more affordable price.

Competition was hotting up, most notably from Samsung. They were also putting a lot of handsets using Android out there in large numbers. These went up against the solitary Apple iPhone models that were beginning to dominate the market. In general in this era of phones, other manufacturers sought their advantages in two ways. The previously mentioned price point rather than the operating system, or some kind of improved spec.

The Tattoo’s design takes its cues from some earlier models like the HTC Magic. Much space was dedicated to physical buttons, with four buttons surrounding a large home button.

Full specifications here.

Having slightly fewer features than other phones, this was not as popular a model. Whilst some physical keys did survive in subsequent models, the number of these ended up being heavily reduced. Better quality (and larger) touchscreens made them less useful.

HTC Tattoo Review: Pros

  • This was a good compromise model for those coming to smartphones for the first time. The Android system was much more intuitive than a Windows system, and was much easier to navigate.
  • The phone dimensions were reduced and almost in line with the last generation of non-touch phones, such as the Nokia N95. Screen sizes were pretty much on a par in both size and resolution.
  • As with many phones around this time, there was support for the microSD card slot, which greatly beefed up the amount of storage possible: a definite win over the iPhones of this time.
  • Navigation was made much easier with the presence of hardware keys, which could be customised for use.

HTC Tattoo Review: Cons

  • It is evident that some corners had to be cut to achieve a lower price point. The main difference is the screen, which is only a resistive touch type. This greatly reduces its ease of use compared to the multi-touch seen elsewhere. For light use this is fine, for heavier texters not so much.
  • The camera could also be termed as a disappointment: a simple 3MP sensor which did not contain flash was quite inferior to many older handsets out there which did produce better quality pictures.
  • The screen size arguably is a little small for Android, and many apps were designed with larger screened phones in mind. Unlike Sony Ericsson, there is no special version of Android for the smaller screened handsets.
  • The price point at the time was bang in the middle: not as expensive as a top-range phone, but quite expensive for a simple mid-range one. It often was easy to by-pass the middle ground if you were going to shell out, particularly for those on contracts.

Future Prospects and Current Pricing

There is little demand at present for these type of phones, and I would think an older model such as a Nokia 8210 would currently sell for more money even though technologically it is far worse.

In future this may become good, although it may be a while as the handset was never a real classic.

Where can I get one?

Both Ebay and Amazon have second-hand and refurbished models.

Interested in more phones? See a list of phones I own here.


HTC Tattoo Disassembly Guide

For a guide on how to take apart the HTC Tattoo for repair purposes, please see this link.

HTC Video Review

Here is a video review which showcases most of the HTC Tattoo’s features:

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