AT&T Announces HTC Aria

For those of you who happen to live under a rock, on Monday, AT&T officially announced the HTC Aria, which will become available on June 20, for $229.99, or $129.99 after a $100 rebate with the purchase of a new contract or with a qualifying upgrade.  This is the second Android phone to be released by AT&T, although the first one that has a chance at being successful, despite AT&T’s attempt to close off some of the Android’s open-source goodness.

HTC Aria

Photo Source:  Engadget

While the HTC Aria isn’t the most powerful, or the biggest phone, such as the HTC Evo 4G on Sprint, but the phone is a good one.  It’s quite a bit smaller, with only a 3.2″, 480×320 screen.  It isn’t very big, but it suits its design by fitting quite nicely into your hand.  the back is rubberized to sit comfortably.  More importantly, the phone will run Android 2.1, not 2.2 like some had speculated.  It could be a while before 2.2 comes to this device, as the Motorola Backflip (the crappy other Android phone, see here) is still running Android 2.0, with no upcoming planned update to 2.1.  It also features a 5 megapixel camera, although no flash for the camera, and a 600MHz processor.  This processor may not be a 1GHz Snapdragon like the ones in the HTC Incredible or the HTC Evo 4G, it still performs quite nicely.  Of course, I can’t forget to mention, because it is an HTC, it also comes with HTC Sense, which improves the usability of the phone greatly.

My biggest beef, though, is what AT&T has done again, as with the Motorola Backflip, and in my opinion, is quite an injustice to Android.  AT&T has disallowed side-loading applications, or apps that are not available in the Android Market, the official Google app market.  This means that anybody who wants to install an application that is not available on the Android market, can’t.  The same thing was done with the Motorola Backflip, and this is part of the reason the Backflip has been more of a Bellyflop.

Android is part of the open-source community.  If somebody wants a smartphone that “just works” and the user experience is controlled and restricted to certain applications, look here.  If you want a phone that you can do whatever you want with it, you would be smart to go open-source.  Even if you are looking to write your own application for Android, and you own this phone, you can’t test your own application on your phone without releasing it to the Android Market and receiving bad publicity for releasing an application that is broken.  This component has always been a big part of the open-source formula, and AT&T has removed this.  AT&T seems to have taken some notes from how Apple does things.

In the long run, this could hurt the HTC Aria, and will hurt all Android phones AT&T releases until they realize their mistake and begin correcting this.  For those who really like the Android platform and are on AT&T, this could very well be the phone they’ve been waiting for.  This model, though, will drive away many potential customers who also happen to be developers to other companies such as Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, who have a wide variety of true open-source Android phones.  Myself, I fall into the first category.  I am devoted to Android and like all that it offers and am on AT&T, so I will be getting an HTC Aria shortly, despite the fact that this is not a true, open-source phone.

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Learn more the author of this post:

Eric Felder
I am a student at Purdue University, studying Computer and Information Technology. I became fascinated with Android and all that it has to offer with the release of Android 2.0, and have been researching it since. Follow me on Twitter!