HTC Tattoo vs HTC Hero

IMG_5827HTC (for now) is the company with the largest selection of Android devices. They were the first one on the scene with the G1 and they have one of the best all-around devices available, the HTC Hero. They’ve recently released an affordable device, the HTC Tattoo and I’d like to compare the two for you.

There are some differences when stacked up to the Hero that might turn some away, but the Tattoo is still a device worth considering. This first list could be all considered as Tattoo PROs.

  • It is cheaper than a Hero. You can get it for free with some contracts and generally would be between 100 to 150 euro less than the Hero. For lots of people that is very important.
  • It comes with Android 1.6 (Donut) while the Hero is stuck with 1.5 until HTC releases the 2.0 update.  However, it might be available for the Tattoo as well.  The device comes with the HTC Sense UI, giving you 7 pages of home screen and the possibility to save your Scenes amongst other things.
  • It has a FM radio and the Hero doesn’t.
  • It has a resistive touchscreen which is smaller than the Hero, but I will get back to this…
  • It has a cover that can be  customized like the MyTouch.
  • It is smaller than the Hero and would be one of the smallest Android devices available. For some, size does matter.
  • Same as the Hero, it has GPS, G-sensor and digital compass.
  • The battery life is roughly the same as the Hero and all other Android devices, you can get one day on one charge.

The Tattoo has also some CONS that have to be taken into account:

  • It has a resistive touchscreen smaller than the Hero.  More on this in a bit!
  • It doesn’t have the trackball but a 4-way navigation control which is not great to use and takes a huge space up on the device.
  • The 240×320 QVGA resolution means that lots of applications are not available on this device. Developers have to adapt their interface, or at least make sure it looks ok on the smaller screen.
  • It has a 3.2 megapixel camera with no flash, though the quality is as good as with the Hero.

As you can see, screen size excluded, there are not that many differences between the Tattoo and Hero. The Tattoo should definitively be in the list if you are in the market for a good, small and affordable Android device.

Now, as promised, lets get back to the screen. There are 2 main types of touchscreen available on Android devices. The Tattoo has a resistive touchscreen while most other Android devices have capacitive touchscreens. You can read the Wikipedia articles linked to know more about them, but to keep it simple: what it means is that with capacitive touchscreen you need to use your fingers with no pressure and can have multi-touch; with resistive touchscreen you have to use pressure with your finger or a stylus and you can’t have multitouch. The lack of multitouch is not really an issue because so far it is not used much on Android.

Using only your finger on the Tattoo screen does not work well if there is not enough pressure. You need to use your nail to be accurate, or even a stylus would be better which is not included with the device. HTC should really have done something to help–they could have included a stylus with a holder in the device or a guitar pick (like Nokia’s 5800). Some would argue that HTC should not have used a resistive screen in the first place, but keep in mind that first it is cheaper and secondly in some cases capacitive screens are not appropriate. You can’t use a capacitive screen with gloves, and also people with hand disabilities would be able to hold a stylus but might have difficulties touching a screen directly with their fingers.

The smaller size will be an issue mainly because lots of applications are not visible in the Market, though that problem should resolve itself once more developers have adapted their apps. See the photos below for the same screens on the Tattoo and Hero. As an example, on a web page in landscape mode you will only be missing a couple of lines.


To conclude, the screen will obviously be a key point in a purchase decision, but the Tattoo should not be excluded simply because of its small resistive touchscreen. As I said before, this is a good, small and affordable device… it is an Android device so it can’t be bad!


  • Bruce

    I love my tattoo. Was a bit bummed about the lack of apps, but really, if you know what you're doing (Which most android users do), you can get around this. I have ebuddy, chompsms, compass and other "unsupported" apps running perfectly on mine.

    • Robyn

      I have a htc tattoo and i havn't worked out how to get to the apps, any help?

    • Rosie

      How did you get those apps to work, i can get some on my Tattoo but not thooses ones… Thanx

  • Jonny

    I liked resistive screens for playing sudoku. The precision made pencil marking so much faster and easier. That said, for just about everything else, resistive screens are a disaster relative to capacitive.

  • Soli

    I have a question related to the resistive screen: there are usually two drawbacks coming with such a screen, one is that they tend to get damaged much quicker (because of pressure, scratches, etc.), the other (and my main concern) is that usually resistive screens tend to reflect more the ambient light. Did you see any difference in your usage tests? I can live with a small screen, but not if I never see what's on it…


    • I didn't find the screen on the Tattoo reflecting more light than on the Hero. To be honest, in bright sunlight even the Hero is not great…
      If you look at the last photo of the music player, there is light from a window reflecting on both screens and it is pretty much the same. The brightness on the Tatto was at the max level and I reduced it for the other photos.

  • SiI

    Personally I find resistive screens far more user friendly… capacitive can be very hit or miss when positioning a cursor in a text (sms, email, etc.).

    And having used WinMo devices for years, you can use a resistive screen with a finger/nail pretty easily – just takes some getting used to…

  • I've also heard the Tatto does not support barcode scanning (1D) because it lacks a close focal length. Can someone confirm?

    • Guitouille

      Yep I can confirm that there is no autofocus on the tattoo, and that is a big problem for my application 🙁

  • Soli

    Ok, thanks a lot, the music player picture seems to show slightly more "shine" on the tattoo, but it does seem far from unbearable 🙂

    Actually LG also gets the GW620 (Eve) out these days in Europe with a resistive screen…

  • Thanks, I've actually been scanning the internet for someone to do this exact comparison for a while. I'd more or less resigned myself to ignoring the Tattoo and just choosing between Magic and Hero, but I might give it another look.

    • robyn

      when going for a phone i was looking between the tattoo, hero and touch. the guyy in the shop said the tattoo wasa the most user friendly of the phones, the touch the most buisness like of the phones, and the hero the most expensive 🙂

      if thats any help to youu :')

  • Ponni M. Sundram

    How do I turn off the application in Tattoo? Please reply me somebody.. Battery is killin me!

  • larry

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    • bemine

      i want to buy. let me know the price



    The comparison regarding cameras in both HTCs is not fair. It's curious to see that people (as in this page) usually don't pay much attention to evaluate the TRUE resolution of a camera. The Hero takes MUCH more precise photographs than the Tattoo, mainly because the latter has no auto-focus, and also possibly because of worst optics and maybe other factors. The net result is that Tattoo's photographs have a quality near to a VGA camera (0.3 megapixel)! So, if taking photographs of printed text is important to you (documents, newspapers, computer displays, etc.), Hero is a far better choice than Tattoo, which is almost USELESS for this purpose.

  • gabrieæ

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    I think htc tattoo is best

  • Nuno

    I have a HTC Tattoo, and i have to say i am really impressed ….
    the resistive screen it works just fine, and you guys for the price you´re paying for it,
    is realy worth it….is an android device halo !!!
    about the apps, the one i wanted till now are working great,
    my facebook, emails and gps …..great.
    quality/price i dont think you´ll find any better.
    when i am using it, it feels like i am using a phone as expensive as an Iphone.
    really trully recomend.

    • Liz

      Fineally!!! that is what i wanted to hear!! i have been undecided about getting a tottoo as i really wanted a android phone but im on budget. i heard that it was really bed but now i really want to get it! it dosent take much to impress me so that is just A.MA.ZING! Thanks alot Nuno

      • Liz

        soz, its ment to read really bad not really bed :S

  • i prefer hero actually..

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