It’s in the core specs that you see where HTC cut the most corners to meet the Status’ low pricetag. It features an 800 MHz processor; while not terrible, it’s going to be left in the dust by the new A9 class and dual-core processors featured in slightly more expensive devices, especially when it comes to graphics-intensive games. How much those processors will beat it by, I can’t say: the Status was unable to complete Quadrant Standard Benchmark, so it’s speed remains somewhat of a mystery. But, no doubt, it will get clobbered by much more than two to one in terms of raw performance.
Likewise, it’s a little light on memory, with just about 120MB of available, which is stingy even by entry-level standards. Verizon’s LG Vortex, released six months ago, had better than 200 MB. This is balanced out a little by the inclusion of a 2GB microSD card, but if you intend to use the Status at all for music, you’ll want to invest in a bigger card almost immediately.
The smartphone also features the set of interface customizations that HTC calls “HTC Sense.” While most manufacturers seem to want to add their own “secret sauce” to their Android phones, HTC Sense is much more of a departure from the “conventional” Android look and feel than other manufacturer packages (like Motorola’s MOTOBLUR and Samsung’s TouchWiz). If you’re not familiar with Android you’ll probably never notice, and it’s not so different that experienced Android users won’t know what to do, but it can definitely give you a few surprises. Although in this case, that’s not necessarily bad, as Android’s standard UI might not lend itself to a 2.6 inch screen.
One thing about the HTC interface that I like was the lock screen. For most Android devices, this is just a pointless screen you have to go through in order to turn on the device. With the Status, they’ve redesigned it with a ring and four icons: Phone, Mail, Camera, and Messages. Pull the ring up to unlock the phone… or you can drag one of the icons into the ring to launch that application. This is a nice touch, giving fast access to the things you’ll most likely need quickly. Faster, in fact, than just having those icons on your home screen. Kudos for innovation.
Fortunately, the Status doesn’t cut many corners here. Besides featuring Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS, it also includes quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G, making it a true world-phone as well as capable of all sorts of neat high speed internet tricks, from streaming audio and video to GPS navigation. (And, for the parents out there, GPS tracking of their teenagers.)
Granted, it doesn’t include support for AT&T’s higher speed 4G network. But considering both the still-evolving nature of 4G tech, and the price tag of the Status, that’s hardly a mark against it. 4G is still expensive and experimental. The Status has all the communication tools that you would need in a good basic smartphone.
Unlike most other Android devices, the Status doesn’t include any real “productivity” applications. There is no Office document suite, no journaling or business apps, nothing but the very basic email, web browsing and calendar apps standard on any Android device.
Here’s the big one. While it has the standard Android-bundled music and video players, as well as a client for the built in FM radio, the real jewel of the Status’ entertainment options is it’s customized Facebook integration. This is considerably more than just an app–it’s more like a complete set of tie-ins to make it easier to access the most needed FB features. How does that make it different from the basic Facebook app for Android, you ask? The main way is through better integration with the phone’s contacts.
On the Status, when you load the contact info of someone you know on Facebook, it doesn’t just display their number and last status update, but also gives you the option to see their photo galleries, messages you’ve exchanged with them, emails, links they’ve posted, etc.
Another major way is through the Facebook Share button on the keyboard. It provides one-touch access to creating wall posts, not just on your own wall but making it equally easy to post to your friends. This includes fast selection of existing photos, or taking new ones straight from the camera. And it addresses one of the places where the regular Android app is usually weak, in making it easy to post original items instead of just commenting.
There’s more than that, of course, but if I listed all the little ways you can use it to get your social networking on, we would be here all night. Obviously, there are some things that you can’t do using the Status’ Facebook engine. Facebook games, for instance, micropayments, and other rich media. But the bulk of the real human interaction is there.
So all in all, is it worth the effort to have a phone built around this functionality? Honestly, I would have to say probably not. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the Status’ Facebook implementation is admirable, and should be standard on Android devices. But realistically, this could be done with every HTC phone if they so chose. The Status is more of a high-end messaging phone, and its Facebook-based sales pitch is closer to a gimmick. It will no doubt do brilliantly for those who want and need both messaging and Facebook, in the teen/young adult demographic, but building a specific “Facebook phone” is somewhat akin to building a “going to the supermarket” car.
What is a bit impressive for this low-end phone is that the Status does support autofocus on it’s camera. This surprised me a little, since the slightly cheaper Samsung Replenish doesn’t even have this. Not surprisingly though, the camera optics are only of middle quality despite the 5 megapixel tag. This means shots are slightly fuzzier and less clean than with competing cameras, even though those cameras have the same raw resolution.
Combining a relatively juicy 1500 mAh battery with a very small screen–the display being by far the biggest power hog on any device–the Status pulls out some pretty solid battery life, easily making it through a rough day.