UPDATE: This "first look" review was written after just a day or so with this device. A much more complete version based on extensive testing has now been published:
I've had about 36 hours now with the HTC Status, the new Facebook-oriented phone that has just launched from AT&T, and I'm prepared to give some initial impressions. A full review will be published after I've had more time to test it out.
While the Status is an Android-based handset, it's an atypical one. For starters, it has a single-piece design with a keyboard, the kind that is still mostly associated with BlackBerry devices. Already there are few other Android models that use this style, but the Status goes even further in pursuing an extremely small form-factor: it's landscape screen is just 2.6-inches diagonal, far less than even the 3.1 inches on the similarly built Motorola Droid Pro and Motorola XPRT, and one third the viewable area of the displays found on larger phones like the Samsung Infuse 4G.
Of course, the Status is far from the high-end phone that most of those are. It sports only modest specs like an 800 MHz processor, and 512 MB of internal memory, along with an equally modest suggested retail price of $50 after a $50 mail-in rebate and new two-year contract. This phone is not targeted at gadget-mongers: it's targeted at young people, particularly teenagers, the ones who live and die on Facebook, text messages, and don't mind a tiny screen that their parents would squint at.
On that count, the Status does pretty well. It's main selling point is increased Facebook integration. Android has long since had a Facebook app, as well as options for directly uploading photos to your account. This HTC device takes this much further, though, offering direct access to Facebook messages, Facebook's instant messaging service, and wall postings, as well as several ways to track your news feed. I'll have a much more thorough rundown in the full review, but suffice it to say, it's Facebook implementation goes far beyond what is normal for Android devices, and is much more suited to using the whole of Facebook rather than just reading your news feed the way many other apps do.
On the downside, I'll admit that the Status' tiny screen does make it, at times, difficult to use. Even for someone like me who has excellent vision, the relatively cramped confines only allow you to read a small amount of text at once. In actuality, it's a bit larger than many of the screens used in similar devices for years. But with the increasing trend toward bigger-screened smartphones, you can get a better sense of the reading experience you're missing on such a small display.
Overall, my first impression of the HTC Status is of a well-built and usable low-end phone with good Facebook integration. Whether that holds out in the full review (which I'll be writing over the next few days) remains to be seen. Either way, you can look forward to more details, battery life tests, benchmarks, and photos in the full review, coming soon.
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