HTC First review: The socialite
Announced alongside the Facebook Home launcher, the HTC First for AT&T is the first smartphone to feature the social network's Android add-on out of the box. Launching a dedicated "Facebook phone" isn't an unfamiliar affair for HTC - back in 2011, the Taiwanese manufacturer released the Salsa and ChaCha duo of entry-level devices.
Facebook Home aside, the HTC First features a spec sheet, mostly taken from last year's top shelf Android smartphones. The highlights included a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset and a sharp 4.3" 720p Super LCD display for liking your Facebook friends' online rants. Here goes the full list of talents, which the HTC First has to offer.
- Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G support
- Tri-band LTE network support
- 4.3" 16M-color Super LCD capacitive touchscreen with HD resolution (720 x 1280 pixels); Gorilla glass
- Unmodified Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Facebook Home UI preinstalled
- 1.4 GHz dual-core Krait CPU, Qualcomm MSM8930 Snapdragon 400 chipset
- 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage
- 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash; face detection and geotagging
- 1080p and 720p video recording @ 30fps
- 1.6MP front-facing camera
- Wi-Fi a/b/g/n
- GPS with A-GPS
- Accelerometer, proximity sensor and auto-brightness sensor
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
- microUSB port and stereo Bluetooth v4.0
- Smart dialing, voice dialing
- DivX/XviD video support
- Superb build quality and one-hand ergonomics
- Barely visible carrier branding
- 2000mAh Li-Po battery with impressive performance
- Only 12GB of available storage and no option to expand
- Battery is not user-replaceable
- Only available on AT&T for the time being
- 5MP camera is not exactly cutting edge these days
A quick look at the HTC First's list of talents shows that the smartphone has a lot more to offer than simply featuring Facebook Home out of the box. Hardware wise, the device is as capable as just about any 2012 Android top dog, but with the added benefit of an impressively pocket-friendly form factor.
The unmodified Android experience, which the device offers, is also a pleasant surprise. It will certainly help the HTC First attract Android purists to its bandwagon.
The non-expandable memory and lack of user-replaceable battery are on top of the smartphone's list of potential niggles. The former in particular, could be a deal-breaker for many, given the ever-increasing size of today's popular apps.
The 5MP camera is arguably also a bit of a letdown, as 8MP shooters find their way even in an increasing number of affordable handsets. Our guess is that, given the social networking aura of the First, its camera was likely not a priority. After all, most, if not all, of the images produced by it are likely going to end up viewed on another mobile device, with a square aspect ratio and an effect filter applied to them.
As always, we will kick off the HTC First's review with an unboxing, followed by a design and build quality inspection.
Editorial: You might notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn't include some of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written far away from our home office and test lab. Still, we think we've captured the essence of the phone in the same precise, informative and detailed way that's become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!