UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who pointed out a glaring omission I made: Aria does not support the installation of apps not downloaded from the Android Marketplace - in other words, no unsigned apps. Just like AT&T's other Android phone, the Motorola Backflip. Aside from that, AT&T didn't lock down the OS in any way. For some of you, that'll be a big "aside," though, and I apologize for leaving that out of the original post.
Woo, what a crazy week! Yesterday I was able to hook up with HTC for half an hour to get their newest device, the Aria for AT&T. Then I had to go to meetings. Then I had to go to a cocktail party. Okay, "I had to party" sounds lame, I know. But it was a work thing. Then I went to the HTC meetup in San Francisco, which was more of a "I got to party" thing.
Anyway, now I'm in a hotel conference room for more meetings all-day. The point of telling you all of that? It's been a crazy few days and I haven't had time to make a proper Aria unboxing video. But I have been using it as my personal phone for the last 12 hours or so, so I can tell you this: It's a pint-sized pocketful of Android awesomeness.
Seriously, I'm really loving this device so far. Maybe it's just that it's so small but still runs a full on Android 2.1 + Sense install and so I'm getting that "ooh, it's so tiny!" excitement that geeks are prone to. Maybe it's that giant 4"+ screens are suddenly the rage, so a 3.2" display makes Aria seem so tiny and adorable that I can't hardly put it down. Or maybe it's just that I see so many phones every day that look more and more the same that anything different is bound to stand out in a good way.
Whatever it is, I'm digging on Aria so far. Yeah, a 3.2", HVGA display - and not a 3.7"+, WVGA screen like those on Evo and Incredible - is small by today's smartphone standards, but it's still big enough to pinch-to-zoom on with relative ease. Typing isn't so bad too far, either. Tapping messages out on Aria isn't as comfy as doing it on Evo, not by a long shot, and I'll withhold real judgement until I've used the thing for a bit longer, but so far so good. I even switched over from full QWERTY to old-school phone keypad for some T9 TXTing, which is definitely a viable option on a phone so tailor-made for one-handed use.
Small though it is, the display is vivid and responsive, the optical trackball adds a welcome measure of precision to editing text and clicking Web links, and the 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD card slot let me load music and photos onto Aria to keep me entertained on the train this morning. I know, I know, most any phone can do that these days. But Aria's so tiny, it somehow felt even cooler to have so much tech literally in the palm of my hand.
Plus, HTC knows how to make a nice object. Yeah, they've been taking some hits lately over some purported battery life and display issues on Nexus One, Incredible, and Evo, so we'll have to see how Aria holds up over time. But as an object to hold and turn and swipe and tap on a regular basis? I love the black with steel grey color scheme, the soft grip back panel, and the little touches like the exposed screws and the Ferrari Yellow interior.
Yup, it's an HD Mini running Android. And it's on AT&T in the US. And at least for now, it's very happily tucked away in my front jeans pocket and I hardly know it's there until it buzzes to let me know about a phone call or message or tweet or calendar alarm or any of those other amazing things that Android phones buzz to notify their users about. Good stuff.