HTC STATUS: Great Facebook Phone, Mediocre Android Phone [REVIEW]

htc status

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

When HTC announced the Status, its first phone that fully integrates with Facebook, I thought it would be a cheap gimmick.I changed my mind last week when AT&T handed me one to test out. The design is solid. Typing on the full QWERTY keyboard is a delight. And Facebook integration is actually a pretty cool concept.

To be clear, the Status is not the Facebook phone, but it is the first major smartphone to launch with deep Facebook integration.

Click here to see some awesome photos of the Status in action >

I’m not much of a Facebook user, but 749,999,999 other people out there are, so I decided to review the Status as if I were one of them. Keep reading to find out what I thought.

Facebook, Built In
If you’ve ever used an Android phone, you know the first thing you do is log in with your Google account. That way your contacts, Gmail inbox, calendar, etc. are automatically synced up.

The HTC Status adds Facebook to the mix. When you set up the Status, it asks for your Google and Facebook account information. After that, your Facebook and Google contacts are merged, and HTC’s Facebook widgets for chatting and status updates immediately populate with your friends’ postings.

Then there’s the Facebook button on the keyboard. It’s the first time I’ve seen that on a phone, and it really only serves one function: Pressing the button launches an app that lets you post photos or text updates to your wall or a friend’s wall.

It’s not much easier than opening the official Facebook app and posting the old-fashioned way, but it does save you a step or two.

HTC developed its own Facebook chat app that comes pre-loaded on the Status. It’s a lot like any texting app out there with threaded conversation view. If you do a lot of chatting on Facebook, you’ll like it.

As a whole, I get the concept HTC is going for with the Status. But aside from the Facebook button, there’s nothing here any other Android phone can’t do too. The biggest benefit comes with the full QWERTY keyboard that’s designed for firing off quick Facebook messages and wall posts.

The keyboard, by the way, is a delight to use. I haven’t used a phone with a keyboard in a long, long time, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed the button layout on the Status. Solid.

HTC Status

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Android On The Small Screen
While the Status is technically an Android-powered smartphone, it’s still hurt by it’s small, 2.6-inch screen size. I can see why HTC shrank the touchscreen to allow for the full keyboard, but the Android experience suffers as a result.

The Status runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread along with version 3.0 of HTC’s Sense skin. I’m usually a big fan of Sense, but it just doesn’t work as well on such a small screen. Widgets like HTC’s iconic clock and weather widget were shrunk and squared off to fit. It just looks weird.

Underneath that, there’s another tiny widget that displays the latest post from your Facebook news feed. I’m not sure why that Facebook widget was included when there’s another one a few screens over that lets you scroll through your news feed. It’s redundant and awkward.

Other Android apps from the Market look squished on the tiny screen. Playing games, web browsing, or even checking Twitter is nowhere near as pleasant as it would be on a full-sized touchscreen. (Twitter’s app can only display three or four tweets at a time.) After spending several days using the Status, I almost wish HTC didn’t load the Status with Android.

Don’t think this criticism means the Status is a bad phone. It’s not. The Status is perfect for what it was designed for: sending messages and posting to Facebook. You shouldn’t expect anything else.

HTC Status

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Should You Buy It?
The first thing you should know before buying is the HTC Status isn’t a powerful phone. This is only for those obsessed with Facebook and messaging with friends. If that’s all you want to do you’ll have no problem shelling out the reasonable $50 for the Status.

If you plan on doing anything else: web browsing, playing games, watching videos, etc., go with a full-sized Android phone or iPhone instead.

The Facebook app comes pre-loaded with the Status

Here's the Facebook chat widget

The Facebook button launches a separate app for posting updates to your wall

This is what you get when you press the Facebook button. It's a simple app that lets you post to your wall or a friend's wall

The camera is only 5 MP, but it's good enough to get some quick photos on Facebook

The small screen means widgets get squished to fit

The Status feels incredibly solid. The curved design feels great to hold

Here's the other Facebook widget. This one lets you scroll through your Facebook News feed

Now check out a super powerful Android phone

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