- Good keyboard
- Robust Facebook integration
- Extremely small screen
An entry-level phone well suited to teenagers and young adults who live on text messaging and Facebook.
With a suggested retail price of just $50 after rebate and a new contract from AT&T Wireless, the HTC Status falls well into the category of low-end smartphones. What sets it apart from other contenders, however, is it’s aggressive social media integration. We take a look to see how it holds up, and whether or not the Status should be the choice of Facebook addicts across the country.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Status is a very unusual design for an Android smartphone. For one thing, it features a single-piece keyboard design, which is featured on only a handful of other units like the Motorola XPRT, Droid Pro, and Samsung Replenish. But the Status goes considerably farther than these, featuring an even smaller screen and more compact design. This makes it very pocketable, but also makes it’s screen size by far it’s least attractive feature. More on that in a minute.
Another curious quality is that the device is actually curved, right below the screen, rather than being perfectly flat. I suppose this has some ergonomic value, but I honestly can’t see how. Still, it looks interesting and different, which has value in and of itself. Certainly, the Status breaks out of the typical rounded-edge and full face screen that’s been the stereotype for most new Android phones. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on your taste. For my money, more choices are always better, so I’m glad to see the Status trying something a little out of the ordinary.
That said, the Status’ design is pretty conventional in most respects. It’s very much a throwback to the older style of smartphones that reigned in the days before the iPhone made everything big-screened.
It’s not easy to see even in person, but to the right of the AT&T logo, the device does have a front-mounted camera for video calling, and for self-portraits using the built-in camera app. This is just one of a number of places where HTC didn’t cut corners.
The Status feels pretty solid in the hand. The casing is completely plastic, but despite that, it has a lot of strength and doesn’t bend or twist. I wouldn’t consider it solid enough to abuse, but despite being “cheap”, it’s not going to be fazed by the rigors of day to day life.
Let’s be blunt: if you like a nice roomy screen, the HTC Status is going to send you fleeing to the hills, screaming in terror. At just 2.6-inches diagonal, this is about as non-roomy as you can get for a modern smartphone. It’s functional, sure – many smartphones have been made on this basic design with as little or less screen size - but functional isn’t necessarily the same thing as enjoyable. You certainly won’t be enjoying streaming video on this, or showing off photos without squinting.
There’s also one other issue; some Android applications are hardwired for a portrait screen. My favorite boardgame clone, WordFeud, is one good example of this. Some applications will have you turning the device sideways in order to view them, which is considerably more uncomfortable with the Status since you will be forced to have either the screen or keyboard sideways.
So what can I say about the screen that’s nice? Well, it’s a good screen. Even though it only has minimal Android resolution, the size makes it very sharp, and the colors are good as well. It’s not a bad screen, it’s just shrunken. At 2.6 inches, it features just one third the available area of some of the high-end smartphones like the HTC Infuse.
The key word here is functional. The Status’s screen is an example of form-follows-function, and it’s function is to be compact and readable. A larger screen might be a nice luxury, but that doesn’t come into it.
Despite being once as common as toads in Australia (yes, they’re quite common), the single piece keyboard has lost popularity in recent years, being mostly replaced with sliding keyboards. There’re several reasons for this, but the big one is that a sliding design lets you have a bigger keyboard and a bigger screen on the same device.
Even so, there are still some believers in the one-piece design since it’s almost impossible to use a slider one-handed. Whichever sort of input you prefer though, you should rest assured that the Status’ keyboard is remarkably well executed. The keys have great seperation, making it harder to accidentally hit one while you’re reaching for another, and each one has a good, solid feel when pushed. It’s a phone that will be very comfortable for input, even for fanatical text messagers.
Speaking of social interaction, down and to the right on the keyboard, you’ll notice an unusual key sitting all alone apart from the others: that’s the device’s “Facebook share” button, which enables some of the context sensitive functions in the Status’ special Facebook app. We’ll discuss that in a minute, under the Entertainment category.
Other Buttons & Controls
None, actually. Aside from the keyboard and it’s one added Facebook button, the only controls on the Status are the power button and volume keys. We don’t even get a button for the camera–although that’s not the issue you might think, thanks to an innovative lock screen I’ll talk about in Part 2 of this review.