HTC has built up a solid reputation in the smartphone world as having top-of-the-line products and one of the best User Interfaces in the business with HTC Sense. Now HTC has decided to take their talents to the featurephone market and create a smart non-smartphone.

Though the Freestyle does run HTC's Sense UI, it doesn't run any sort of smartphone OS. Instead, it runs on the BREW MP, something that we don't see very often. And though all of you made fun of me for having a hard time getting the phone out of the box (yes, I do read those comments) I was very impressed with it as soon as I did manage to free it from the packaging and power it on and I've enjoyed my time with the Freestyle since then. Here are a few of my first impressions of the HTC Freestyle:

  • It looks great. I initially thought that it was made completely out of plastic and other sites reported that it was, but after checking out HTC's info page, I discovered that it is actually built with a "brushed metal alloy body".  This gives the phone a high-end, "smartphone" feel to it. It's not very thin, though it's still only .5-inches thick, but it doesn't feel thick or bulky at all.

  • The display is beautiful, that is, compared to other featurephones. It is very clear and bright and though the resolution is somewhat low, text is crisp. I'm also impressed by the responsiveness of the capacitive touchscreen. So far, it's been terrific. The phone even supports mutli-touch for pinch-to-zoom and this has been very responsive as well. Not perfect, but certainly better than what I expected.
  • It's pretty cool to have a device with Sense UI that's not a smartphone. This means that you get all the cool widgets like Weather, Friendstream, HTC Calendar, Messages and more that you typically only see on a smartphone. Not only are these widgets and apps gorgeous, but they're also well-designed and useful. Sense also adds a lot of customization features, a nice option for those who like to personalize their device. There are a lot of other useful features that HTC has added, but those will be covered in the full review.

  • I haven't quite decided what I think about the keyboard just yet. There is no physical keyboard, so it's touch-only in the typing department. On the one had, the 3.2-inch display means that the keyboard is very small when in default portrait mode, but on the other hand, the Freestyle is equipped with one of the best autocorrect keyboards I've seen on a featurephone. So right now, I'm kind of on the fence about it. You can use the keyboard in landscape mode but you have to press a rotate button as the phone has no accelerometer.
  • The phone does not support WiFi, so it's 3G-only for web browsing. In the few pages that I've opened up I haven't had to wait too terribly long for it to load. It did take about 20-30 seconds, but nothing a little patience won't cover.
  • I am a little concerned about battery life. I turned on the phone for the first time yesterday and it had about a 75% charge. Now, about 12 hours later, I've been told that the battery is low. I think this should still be plenty of time for you to make it through a full day on one charge, even with heavy use, but I'll keep an eye on it and comment about it in the full review.

That's all I've got for right now. I'l be working with the Freestyle for the rest of the week so check back in for the full review!


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