By November 2, 2009

HTC Tattoo Review

The HTC Tattoo is the second Android device I have reviewed. I didn’t get on all that well with the Samsung Galaxy, so was the Tattoo up my street?


HTC Tattoo

What’s in the box:

  • Phone
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Headphones
  • 2GB MicroSD
  • Quick Start Guide and Warranty

Please also take a look at Matt’s HTC Tattoo unboxing video.


The ten second review:

  • Device: HTC Tattoo
  • Price: £270.25
  • Summary: A compact Android device sporting all the good bits you would expect.
  • Best of: Sense UI, Wi-Fi, GPS.
  • Worst of: Size, no Bluetooth file transfer
  • Buy it now from: Clove Technology


HTC Tattoo Specification:

  • Operating System – Android
  • Processor – Qualcomm MSM7225, 528 MHz
  • Memory – RAM – 256 MB / ROM – 512 MB
  • Display – 2.8-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 240×320 QVGA resolution
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • (Band frequency and data speed are operator dependent.)
    Bluetooth 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g
  • HTC ExtUSB (11-pin mini-USB 2.0)
  • GPS – Internal GPS antenna
  • Expansion – microSD memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • G-sensor
  • Digital Compass
  • FM Radio
  • 3.2 megapixel colour camera
  • 4-Way navigation control with Enter button
  • Talk Time – Up to 390 minutes for GSM
  • Standby Time – Up to 340 hours for GSM
  • Dimensions – 106 x 55.2 x 14 mm (4.17 x 2.17 x 0.55 inches)
  • Weight – 113 grams (3.99 ounces) with battery
  • Warranty – 2 Years



On the top of the device is the headset jack and also a lanyard attachment.


HTC Tattoo Top

Situated on the bottom is the USB slot and also the microphone.


HTC Tattoo Bottom

The left side houses only the up/down volume rocker.


HTC Tattoo Left Side

The right side of the handset is flush with no buttons or ports.


HTC Tattoo Right Side

On the back can be found the camera lens and also the speaker grill.


HTC Tattoo Back

The front is where the action happens. At the top is another speaker grill and at the bottom are the action keys and the D-Pad thingy!


HTC Tattoo Front



  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • Build Quality


  • Size
  • No Bluetooth file transfer.




Here we go – There is no doubt about it, the HTC Tattoo is a nice looking device with a build quality to match. For a small phone it actually feels fairly heavy but fits nicely into the hand and its rounded edges make for a comfortable feel. The handset is made from plastic but has a nice satin finish to it. It feels extremely well made and even the battery cover feels as good as the rest of the devices where as on some phones the back cover feels flimsy.

The device has a total of six buttons and a trackpad on its front.


HTC Tattoo Buttons

As you can see above, these consist of home, menu, back, search and call end/send. The four upper buttons are actually two – e.g – the home and menu buttons are just one button with a dip in the centre. The whole button dips to the right or left depending if you are pressing the home side or the menu side. Although each button is pretty small they work well and feel good to press. They even give a little click. The trackpad in the centre allows you to scroll up/down/left and right and the centre can be pressed to select an on screen item. I actually didn’t use this much as I was happy swiping on screen.

The Tattoo is the second HTC device to come with the Sense user interface.


HTC Sense

Like on the HTC Hero, Sense consists of seven home screens. Each of these can be totally customized with a variety of both Android and HTC widgets as well as shortcuts. I was not that impressed on having so many home screens. Although I can see the advantages I was not so keen on the fact that if I wanted to access an application that was on the 3rd homescreen to the left it would take me three screen swipes just to get to it. Some people will love it though.

A few of the widgets I used and liked were:

  • Peep, which is HTCs Twitter app. It works really well and is easy to use.
  • The browser bookmarks widget. This filled most of the screen and consisted of four favorite web pages in a block format. This allows for instant access to your most popular websites. Each thumbnail is an actual view of the webpage itself.
  • Email – This also fills most of the page and gives you a view of your most recent email. Its only a brief view and shows the first few lines. You can then either click the email to view it full screen or swipe up or down to view other emails.
  • Weather – As you would expect this shows the current weather conditions and below that a further four day forecast. You can also scroll up/down to view other locations that you have chosen.

So that is HTCs Sense and I like it. It looks great and I am looking forward to seeing it on HTCs HD2 soon. Its a slightly different version but HTC must have had great feedback from the Android version as they have ported it to Windows Mobile.


Like all Android devices the main menu can be accessed buy pressing the on screen button. This pops up a list of icons set on a black background that looks nice. There are four icons horizontally and by scrolling down you can access more. Vertically the list goes on indefinite, I think, depending how may apps you have on the device.


So onto the main features on the device. The web browser is quite good but slightly let down by the 2.8 inch screen. Don’t get me wrong, it works very well but its just a little small. It has an accelerometer built in so you can flip the device into landscape mode if you desire. There is no multi touch on the HTC Tattoo as it has a resistive screen. Zooming is done using  plus and minus keys on screen. Not perfect but it will have to do.

Pressing the hard menu key will give you the option to add bookmarks, access bookmarks and all the usual setting. One thing I did really like was that when you select bookmarks you get a “visual bookmarks” screen. This consists of thumbnails of your bookmarked websites but they are actual miniature web pages. You can scroll right and left to view all the pages you have saved and then click the one you want for it to open, nice.


If you use your phone to schedule events/appointments then the HTC Tattoo will please you. Its got a great calendar. Initially it gives you a month view and you can scroll up and down to view next month etc. Selecting a day will allow you to enter an appointment. Not only can you enter loads of information but it will also sync with Google if you use Google mail.


Speaking of Google mail, the HTC tattoo comes with a Google mail app already installed. You don’t have to use this though. You can still set up email using the standard POP3/IMAP and its dead easy to do. The downside with messaging is once again the screen size. Now I like to use a QWERTY keypad when messaging but doing so on the Tattoo was a bit of a nightmare in portrait mode. I have not got big hands but I still struggled. Switching to landscape was better but still not great. Luckily there are two other input options. You can use the phone keypad which has three letters on each key or there is also a compact QWERTY which has two letters on each key. I didn’t like either but that’s personal choice.


The HTC Tattoo comes with the Android Marketplace. This is the Android app store. I was looking forward to this as it was missing from the Samsung Galaxy when I reviewed it! However there is a slight problem at the moment! The Tattoo does not have as many apps available for it compared to other Android devices. This is due to the screen resolution. The HTC Tattoo seems to be the odd one out and I believe that when an app is submitted to the marketplace the developer must state for which screen resolution the app is designed for. If the developer does not choose 240 x 320 as well as the standard 320 x 480 the app will not be available to download for the HTC Tattoo. Yes this sucks! I’m sure it will be resolved over time but the Tattoo seems to be missing out at the moment. I downloaded a few free apps but I was not very impressed. There were plenty in the Marketplace but none that I really wanted. Maybe all the good ones are not for this screen resolution?


I was expecting the music player on the HTC Tattoo to be of really good quality, like on other HTC devices and I wasn’t let down. Although the supplied headphones are not the most comfortable to wear they produce good clear sounds. The “Metallica” test was a big success. Of course if you don’t want to use the supplied headphones you can always use your own as the Tattoo has a 3.5mm headset jack. The only downside in terms of music on the HTC Tattoo is the lack of Bluetooth file transfer. This is an Android thing, not HTC and hopefully it will be sorted soon.

I tested out the radio as well while the headphones were out. It worked and sounded pretty good although I could only just pick up my favorite radio station and I had to stand still in order not to lose it!


The HTC tattoo only has a 3.2MP camera and as usual with HTC devices its not great. Why oh why can they not sort this out. It works okay and the interface is nice but its very basic. No auto focus and don’t bother taking a macro shot as it will just come out a blur. The video recorder was ok but again not great quality. Shame.

One unique feature with the HTC Tattoo is that you can tattoo it! If you have not seen our previous post on this please click here but to sum it up the whole casing of the phone can be replaced with a design of your choice. A nice idea.



The HTC Tattoo is overall a nice little phone. It does every thing you would expect  but was too small for me.

One thing the the network providers can do to make this handset even more popular is to sell it as a PAYG device, but the price needs to be right. T-Mobile recently released the Pulse which was there first PAYG Android device and its only £176.16. Its bigger and a lot cheaper than buying a sim free Tattoo at the moment but I have not used one so its hard to compare.

What I would compare the HTC Tattoo to at the moment is the Samsung Jet and HTC Touch2 as all are similar in size. Which is best is a hard one as it always comes down to personal preference. However if I did have to pick I would probably go with The HTC Touch2 purely as I prefer the Windows OS over the Android one. Most people tend not to agree with me on this one though!


Review by: James

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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