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Thursday June 30, 2011 11:23 am

HTC Status Facebook phone launches on AT&T

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Smartphones, Handhelds, Internet

HTC Status

The Facebook phones are finally here. Today AT&T and HTC announced the Status, the first U.S. phone with a dedicated Facebook button.

The Status is a small Android 2.3-based smartphone with a horizontal 480-by-320, 2.6-inch touch screen and a keyboard on the front. Its most important feature, though, is the dedicated Facebook logo button near the bottom of the phone. You can press the button to immediately share what you're doing or where you are, whether you're sharing a photo you just took, an interesting Web page, or a status update.

Facebook chat, which is missing from many phone versions of Facebook, is plumbed in here, and a home-screen widget shows if your friends are available. When you get a call, the caller's Facebook status pops up on the screen.

This is also a full-fledged Android phone, of course, with the latest version of HTC's Sense UI, which is widely considered to be the most thoughtful of the manufacturer Android software extensions. For example, you can jump immediately to popular apps from the lock screen by dragging a ring over the app's icon, an HTC-exclusive feature.

The phone is a U.S. version of the HTC ChaCha, with which we did a hands on at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February. At the time, I said it was a "standout" that was "sharp and responsive" as well as "a little cuddly." I worried that the horizontal 480-by-320 screen layout might cause trouble for third party apps, though.

The ChaCha has already come out in the U.K., where SlashGear's Chris Davies said it has "a frankly brilliant QWERTY keyboard" and "is far more compelling than the silly name might suggest."

This isn't the world's first Facebook phone—just the first for the states. Deep Facebook integration was pioneered by INQ, but that company never released any phones here. The Facebook apps for various phones also offer different levels of integration; for instance on BlackBerrys, Facebook contacts are merged into your address book and Facebook messages appear in your combined inbox. The difference here is the dedicated button.

When the ChaCha launched, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that rather than a single, official Facebook phone, "you can expect to see dozens of phones with much deeper social integration than anything that you've seen so far."

AT&T hasn't announced a price or release date for this phone, except to say that it's coming this summer. With an 800 MHz ARM11 Qualcomm processor, its very small screen and a 5-megapixel camera, it hits a feature point between low-end and mid-range Android devices, leading me to hope that it will come in at $99 or less with a contract.

In late February, search service ChaCha sued HTC for trademark infringement over the HTC ChaCha.

This article, written by Sascha Segan, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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