More than two years ago, I stepped off an airplane at Lawson Army Airfield after 14 months in Iraq. My first destination off post? Anywhere I could find an iPhone. Since I’d just returned from a lengthy deployment, money was no object. Full retail? Not. A. Problem. Two months later the problems started. Regret took a back seat to my out-processing from the Army and my return to civilian life. When that primary objective was complete, I tried to get the iPhone replaced. Luck was not on my side, and neither was Apple. That bad experience came to an end yesterday when I picked up my new phone. Enter the HTC Aria.
HTC Aria and iPhone 2G
The first thing I noticed about this particular phone was the tiny size. In the smartphone arena it certainly won’t be compared to Goliath. It comes in physically smaller, as illustrated above, than the iPhone 2G by around half an inch (on its longest side). If you pop the backing off, which is a little difficult the first time, you gain access to the SIM card, microSD card, and battery of the device. Screen size and resolution are not going to win any contests either, but they’re well balanced and certainly allow for an enjoyable experience with both text and multimedia content. In the upper right side there is a power button, and on the left a volume rocker. The small circle at the bottom of the phone’s face is an optical trackpoint. Touch sensitive regions along the bottom of the screen are present for the home screen, menu, back, and search functions.
Using the phone is quite simple. Anyone who has ever used an iPhone should be able to pickup the use of this Android phone very easily. I spent most of yesterday trying out different apps and reconfiguring my theme. At no point was it ever confusing. Unsurprisingly, the applications from Google work flawlessly on the Android OS. Navigation is awesome. The integration with Google Voice, Gmail, and GTalk is equally excellent. While the Android Marketplace lacks the sheer volume of applications found in Apple’s AppStore, I was able to quickly find applications do to exactly what I wanted to do. Not a single one of them cost me a dime either. To Apple’s credit, I never paid for an iPhone app either.
Battery life is the one negative comment I’ve read. The Aria certainly does not have the largest capacity battery on the market. It does well with the battery it does have though. As of this writing my phone has been on, and active, for more than six hours. It still has more than 70% charge remaining. Now, I’m not one to sit around and use my phone all day to do things for which an actual computer is better suited so perhaps I’m not as picky as others. That said, if I can make it through my time away from home in a any given day while maintaining the means to communicate with others I’m happy. This phone fits the bill.