We first eyed the HTC Status back in February at MWC where it was first debuted as the HTC ChaCha, but also as the Facebook Phone. The HTC Status is a breath of fresh air in comparison to all the Android Smartphones that are coming out nowadays. For starters, its candy-bar with a QWERTY form-factor is still pretty rare for an Android handset. But it’s most unique aspect really stems from the fact that it sports a dedicated Facebook button right on its front-side. To top it all off, unlike so many premium smartphones that are priced at $199, the Status is poised to be affordable at just $49.95 with a two year contract. Sound familiar? T-Mobile tried a similar feat last year with the Motorola Charm. In short, the HTC Status is everything the Motorola Charm should have been, and so much more.
The HTC Status measures 2.54″ x 4.5″ and is just .42″ thick while weighing 4.37 ounces. It is a beautiful device with a somewhat Apple’esque style that is unique to the market, even in comparison to other QWERTY candy-bar style form-factors. The device is slim, with an ergonomic curved shape that makes it a pleasure to hold while up against your face while talking. The build quality of the HTC Status is also excellent .It feels like it will stand up to the riggers of everyday mobility very well.
The keyboard on the HTC Status is excellent. Keys are well spaced and the keys themselves are large too. Tactile feedback is also good, as the keys are easy to push down on with just the right amount of pressure. The keyboard is also backlit. We dare say that we prefer this keyboard to the BlackBerry Bold and Curve’s squishier keyboards with smaller keys. Then there is the Facebook button located just below the keyboard which lets you quickly post messages and photos to your Facebook Wall
The Status comes packing a 2.6″ capacitive touchscreen with a 480 x 320 resolution. The display is a very good display, it’s sharp, gets plenty bright and produces good colors. The display is light years ahead of the Motorola Charm’s display from last year. That said, in a form-factor like this one, a 2.6″ display is understandable. However, we can’t help but feel like they could have squeezed in a bit more screen real estate in – maybe 2.8″. It should go without saying that watching movies on such a small screen is not very desirable. Fortunately, the HTC Sense U.I. running on the device over Android, does a good job of making the most out of small display real estate.
The Status comes running Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 with the HTC Sense U.I. That means the device offers tight social network integration and plenty of pretty and useful widgets. On top of that, HTC has also optimized the HTC Sense U.I. and Gingerbread to accommodate a smaller sized display and somewhat unusual resolution.
Furthermore, it’s not just that the dedicated Facebook button offers users quick access to Facebook, but the whole phone is about Facebook integration. When someone calls, the HTC Sense UI will show you their latest status update, photos and a reminder if their birthday is coming up. The gallery app aggregates photo albums from Facebook, and the calendar can also pull in Facebook events. The HTC Sense widgets also let you see a stream of your friend’s Facebook and Twitter updates on your home screen. HTC has created a pretty seamless integration package with Facebook.
As far as apps go, the device comes preloaded with AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Navigator, Calculator, Facebook, FB Chat, HTC Hub, HTC Likes, Latitude, Live TV, Mirror, myAT&T, Places, Google Talk, Twitter, a Wi-Fi Hotspot app, and more. The mirror app is especially clever, since it uses the front-facing camera to show you a mirror image of yourself. Unfortunately, the camera makes you look pretty horrible – so a true mirror, it is not.
As much as we love what HTC has done to improve the U.I. on this phone with HTC Sense, we frequently experience ‘Forced Close’ errors when running apps. We’re not sure what exactly is causing the Force Close error, but it seems to be being caused by an HTC app. As a result of the Force Close error, we could not successfully run the Quadrant Benchmark app on the device without having the app shut down while testing.
Despite being a budget smartphone, the HTC Status packs in both a front facing and rear facing camera. The 5MP front facing camera features auto-focus and an LED Flash. The Status however lacks a dedicated camera button, but it does sport auto-focus and plenty of advanced camera settings for White Balance, ISO, effects and you can even have photos set to auto upload to Facebook and Flickr. Photo shaken with the camera tend to be pretty good and they tend to be sharp with good color reproduction, especially photos taken outdoors. The same can be said of videos. All in all, the Status definitely has one of the better smartphone cameras.
The device is running on a somewhat mediocre 800MHz processor. That said, we found the device to be plenty responsive and capable with generally very good performance.
Unfortunately, the HTC Status is a 3G device with no support for AT&T’s 4G networks. That said, we found the surfing experience to pretty speedy regardless.
Call quality on the status is good. Callers sounded clear and they said the same of me.
While this phone is being touted as the ultimate Facebook phone, it’s also a really solid messaging smartphone that can not only compete with the Sidekick 4G, but even the BlackBerry Bold and Curve. As it stands, there really aren’t enough Android smartphones with this form-factor. So while we do see this phone particularly appealing to students and teens, we think it can even draw in plenty of suits too. As a matter of fact, we can picture a BlackBerry user choosing this device as their fist Android phone. In comparison to the Motorola Charm that came out last year, the HTC Status is so much of a better device. It’s faster, sports a better display and form-factor, as well as a much better interface overlay. The $49.95 price point for the Status is really sweet too.
HTC has indeed made special U.I. enhancements to Android to make the smaller touchscreen display on the HTC Status more usable. These smart interface adjustments do help make navigating Android on a 2.6″ display easier. That said, a small display isn’t for everyone. We do wish that the display on the device was a bit bigger, but it’s a sacrifice you make to have this form-factor. Fortunately the device does help make up for that, with its great design and build quality.
The Good: Excellent form-factor with great keyboard, beautiful Sense UI really extends the usefulness of this device, affordably priced, great build quality and design, excellent social network integration
The Bad: Display is too small for some tastes, not a 4G device, we experienced frequent Force Close errors