NOTE: We asked, you responded! Here’s one of our favorite written reviews submitted as part of the “What’s in Your Pocket?” call for cell phone reviews. Thanks, Kristian!
The HTC Tattoo is an early Android phone, released in 2009, that ran Android 1.6 with HTC Sense out of the gate. Tattoo was the second phone to run HTC Sense, and had a lot of new features for its time.
The phone is packing a 528 Mhz processor from Qualcomm, 512MB of RAM and a 240 x 320 resistive touchscreen. HTC Sense provides a different experience than stock Android. Sense has a lot of great homescreen widgets, with a different look to them than the standard Android 1.6 widgets. HTC Sense at times feels like a beta product, with slowdowns and crashes, but the widgets somewhat make up for it. With its Qualcomm processor, the phone is capable of running the stock ROM fine, and apps load quickly and perform well.
At the time of its release, Android 1.6 was a capable operating system with a slew of features and apps, but today it feels dated with good reason. Many of the new apps from the Market simply don’t support the older OS and so you’re left with a gimped Android Market.
The phone’s 240 x 320 resolution, albeit a bit low-res compared to today’s standards, fits the 2.8” screen surprisingly well. Text and pictures look good on the phone, but it’s nothing compared to modern Super AMOLED and Retina displays. Tattoo’s resistive touchscreen provides a different experience than the capacitive screens found on today’s average smartphones. At times it feels like a small piece of plastic is layered above the display, which can be distracting but by no means is a major problem. The phone is not capable of multitouch, but that wouldn’t have been a good experience on the 2.8” screen anyway.
To sum it up, the HTC Tattoo was a good to average phone for its time, but has since become severely outdated. While not a bad phone by any means, it simply cannot compete with the phones of 2011, which shouldn’t be expected given the absurd amount of Android phones now being produced. Since its release, the Android OS has matured significantly and 1.6 feels very old. HTC has to this date never released any official ROM updates for Tattoo despite the rumors of a 2.1 update.
Luckily the much acclaimed CyanogenMod added support for the HTC Tattoo in their latest release, which is based on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. After installing 2.3 the HTC Tattoo feels brand new, running games and apps and with an OS that’s much faster itself. With Gingerbread installed, the Tattoo is capable of running all the latest apps from the Market.
Still, even with Gingerbread flashed the phone feels dated, so if you’re looking for a serious Android device, don’t buy the Tattoo. It simply won’t live up to the standards of 2011 smartphones, and you’d be much better served with buying a newer device. If you’re looking for a device in the same size class as the Tattoo, you should probably look into the HTC Wildfire, the official successor to the Tattoo, which runs Android 2.2. If you’re looking for a spare phone, or simply a device for modding and flashing ROMs, the Tattoo could be an option given its cheap price.