We'll admit we snickered a little bit at the idea of a "Facebook phone." How hard is it to access Facebook on a phone these days? Just get the app and tap a few buttons, and you're all set. Do you really need a dedicated Facebook button?
But the HTC Status changed our minds, if only for a little while. Designed in collaboration with Facebook, the HTC Status was first introduced at Mobile World Congress in the form of the HTC ChaCha. It really is a wonderfully designed handset, with a white-and-silver unibody look that is straight out of a sci-fi movie. It's also bent ever so slightly. This is to fit the curve of the face, and so it's more comfortable to hold when typing text with your thumbs. The keyboard is the stuff messaging phone dreams are made of; it is so spacious. Each key is large, oval, separated from each other, and nicely raised above the surface. It also clicks wonderfully when pressed.
As for the Facebook button, it definitely does its job well. Press it when you're on standby, and you'll bring up a blank wall post, all ready for you to fill it up and hit send. A long press will bring up a list of nearby locations so you can check in and tell your friends where you are. The button is also context-aware. It glows and pulses softly when you're in the camera app, as if telling you that you can easily upload any photo to Facebook with one short press of the button. The same goes for when you're in the browser--press it and the post will have the Web link already embedded. Is pressing a button that much faster than using the app? Yes. Is that worth it? Only if you're a Facebook fan.
We should note that this means you do need to have a Facebook account to use this phone--in fact, you're prompted for your Facebook login when you first start up the phone.
The downside, however, is the tiny 2.6-inch HVGA touch-screen display. It's difficult to read smaller text, and scrolling through long Web pages is a chore. Worse still is that the Status' default screen orientation is in landscape mode. That's right, the screen is in landscape mode when the phone is held vertically. We suspect this is to accommodate the phone's width, and that it's perhaps a little easier to have the HTC Sense app tray positioned on the right side in the main menu.
The problem arrives when you have to use an app that's only in portrait mode. This isn't unusual--remember, most Android phones have portrait mode as a default, so it makes sense that a lot of apps are designed for that. With the HTC Status, if you have an app that is portrait mode only, you'll have to turn the phone 90 degrees sideways to view it properly. We tried this with Words With Friends, and it was almost comical how we had to use it. We would turn the phone sideways to play the game, and then turn it back to type out a message. It's pretty silly to say the least.
Despite the odd and tiny display though, we have to say the Status does have some merit for the beginning Android user. It ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, GPS, Wi-Fi, mobile hot-spot capabilities, 3G, quad-band GSM, a 5-megapixel camera that shoots decent pictures, and a front-facing VGA camera for video calls. The Status also separates out Facebook Chat into its own separate application, so it's just that much easier for you to converse with your online friends. And even though we did complain quite a bit about it, the HVGA display is actually quite crisp and vibrant for its size.
We'll say that if you want the full-on satisfying Android experience, then you might want to step away from the Status, as the small screen size and strange landscape orientation is rather limiting. But if your eyesight is sharp and you're a total Facebook freak, the Status might fit the bill. The HTC Status is $49.99 after a two-year agreement with AT&T.
Read our full review of the HTC Status for all the details not covered in this blog post.