The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

First look: HTC Status phone and its Facebook button [Video]

July 16, 2011 | 10:43 am

Screen shot 2011-07-16 at 10.10.38 AM

The HTC Status hits AT&T and Best Buy stores on Sunday and will be the first phone released with its own Facebook button.

But what exactly does a Facebook button do? Well, so far, it makes sharing a status message or photo to Facebook even more simple than it already is on Google's Android operating system.

The Facebook button on the HTC Status is "context aware," so if a user is taking photos and they see a shot they want to upload to the popular social networking service, a tap of the blue-blocked-F takes them automatically to the phones built-in Facebook uploading app. 

When a new chat message or wall post comes into the Facebook account synched with the Status, the Facebook button lights up, alerting the user to something new. With a press of the button, you're in, browsing whatever content or interaction awaits.

But while the Facebook button and HTC's modifications of Android to take advantage of the button make using Facebook a bit more seamless, the Status is really just another Android phone -- and that's not a bad thing.

The Facebook button and increased integration is a feature, and the most prominent one at that, but with a 2.6-inch touch screen and full keyboard below it, the Status feels and operates like a regular old Android phone.

And I think that's the idea here. The Status steps up Facebook features, but it's not a full out Facebook phone, with the social network taking over every function. It's an Android phone with a little bit more Facebook.

So the appeal here really depends on what a consumer is looking for from a phone since, really, the dozens of Facebook-button-free Android options already out there do a great job of integrating with Facebook and Twitter -- pulling into the phone contacts from those networks and adding notifications from both services into the phones functions itself.

The Status sells for $50 with a two-year 3G data plan from AT&T and comes with 512 megabytes of internal storage that is expandable to 2 gigabytes with an included microSD card. I used up all the phone's storage (both internal and on microSD) quickly. 

For those who've never owned a smartphone before, or are looking for a lower-priced phone for a Facebook-loving high school or college student, the Status might be a solid option.

But that little blue Facebook button isn't close to compelling enough to have smartphone users drop their Apple iPhones, Motorola Droids or HTC Evo's anytime soon.

Check out our hands-on first look at the HTC Status in the video below.


Hands on with the HP TouchPad and WebOS [Video]

AT&T taking preorders for HTC Status Facebook-integrated phone

HTC shows off the ChaCha and Salsa 'social phones' with Facebook buttons

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: The HTC Status, and its Facebook button. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times