Currently, there are over 750 million active users on Facebook and more than 250 million of those users access Facebook from their mobile device. For you 250+ million users, HTC and AT&T have just the phone for you, the HTC Status, a.k.a. "The Facebook Phone." In most ways, the Status is just like any other Android phone, save for a rarely-used form factor. However, it's one tiny button that makes this phone unique. That is, of course, the dedicated Facebook button. The Facebook button allows you to quickly update your wall and post your location. It sounds like a gimmick, but it's actually very handy. But you can't buy a phone simply because of one button. How does the rest of the phone perform? Is this the smartphone to have if you are a Facebook user?
Design & Features
HTC veered a bit off the beaten path with the design of the Status. It features a 2.6-inch display with a portrait-style QWERTY keyboard. The display has a resolution of 480x320. Text is surprisingly clear with hardly any pixelation, and graphics look smooth. Interestingly, HTC also added two buttons for Call and End - a very rare feature for Android phones. What else makes the Status' design unique is that it's a short, stubby phone with an angled bottom half, the half with the keyboard, which is supposed to make typing easier and more comfortable. Now, I don't know how much this actually helped, but it certainly didn't hurt and it's not so angled that it makes the phone look odd. The size and shape, however, may be a turn off for some people. Personally, I like it, but not everyone will. The Status measures 4.5-inches tall, 2.5-inches wide, and .42-inches thick.
Most of the front panel is encased in the aluminum material we typically see on HTC phones. This front aluminum panel connects to a small bar of aluminum that wraps around the back of the phone. Other than that small bar, the rest of the back cover is plastic. This mixture of materials gives the phone a solid feel, while not making you feel like you're holding an executive phone that most HTC devices resemble. (This is a social-networking phone, after all.)
The microUSB port is on the left side of the phone along with the volume rocker buttons, and the 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on top of the phone, next to the Power/Screen Lock button. The back battery cover is nearly impossible to get off, but once you manage to remove it, you'll find the 1250 mAh battery that ships with the phone and a microSD card slot with a 2GB card pre-installed. The phone supports up to 32GB to supplement its 512 MB of internal memory. It's unfortunate that you have to remove the battery cover and the battery to get to the microSD card slot since the battery cover is so hard to get off, but it's not very often that you need to access the card anyway.
Usability & Performance
The Status ships with Android 2.3 and a modified version of Sense 2.1 for Messenger, at least that's what the Settings info says. I'm assuming that 'Messenger' was HTC's name for the Status. This modified version of Sense doesn't add a lot in terms of Facebook or social-networking features - the Status ships with the same widgets that are available on any HTC smartphone - but the layout of the homescreens as well as HTC's apps and widgets are modified to fit the small display. There is no dock at the bottom of the homescreen. Instead, in order to conserve space, the main homescreen has a shortcut in the left corner for the app drawer and a shortcut in the right corner for the personalization menu. These shortcuts are in the main homescreen only, so if you are in one of your other homescreens, you'll need to go back Home to access the app drawer. This is slightly frustrating, but it's not too much of a pain. As mentioned, each HTC app has been customized for the small display and its format. Whereas most HTC apps have a slider menu at the bottom of the screen, the apps that ship with the Status have this slider on the right side of the screen. Due to this and other customizations, using the Status is comfortable and intuitive. It doesn't look like Android was just scrunched onto a small screen, but that it was really customized to work to its full potential despite the small screen. As a bonus, the Status supports HTC Hub, which means you can download extra skins, themes, widgets, and more. Not all HTC phones in the U.S. support this feature.
Of course, being the Facebook Phone, the Status' main feature is a small dedicated Facebook button just below the physical keyboard. Pressing the button opens a window where you can quickly post to your Wall or any one of Friends' Wall. In this window, you can also add photos or quickly take a picture and add it to your post. Doing a long-press on the Facebook button opens a window where you can post your location and add a description. These features may seem pointless to some, but to heavy Facebook users, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
The keyboard on the HTC Status is absolutely fantastic. The island-style keys make typing quickly no problem. The keys are plastic with no rubber texture to them at all, but they are designed with a slight bubble shape. Along with the great design, there are dedicated keys for a period, comma, and question mark - something you usually don't see on keyboards. Because of this, you can type even faster because you don't have to hunt for the Function key, press it, go back to the punctuation key you need, and then continue typing. HTC also included four navigational arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of the keyboard. All in all, the keyboard is terrific for social-networking and texting.
The Status is powered by a single-core 800 MHz Qualcomm processor and has 512MB of ROM and RAM each. I had very few problems with the processor, probably because the display is so small with so few pixels which means the processor has very little to actually process. Transitions, scrolling, and app-loading was smooth with little to no lag. There were times when certain widgets would take longer than a few seconds to load info, but that has more to do with syncing the data on the widget and, therefore, the data network. I seemed to experience an exceptional amount of Force Closes with the Status, a bug that affects every Android phone, though not usually this bad. It could be the apps I was running or this could be isolated to my device only.
Pictures taken with the Status' 5-megapixel camera were mediocre and grainy. The camera does feature a tap-to-focus feature which is convenient and can be used even when capturing video. Still, poor camera quality is hard to ignore. Video captured with the device was worse, coming out rough and choppy. Sound quality was bad and the microphone had a hard time picking up voices from a few feet away. Thankfully the camera has autofocus and is equipped with a flash. The VGA front-facing camera offers surprisingly good video quality considering the resolution. Quick movements are clear and minor details show up well. Going back to the main purpose of this phone, I assume that most buyers of the Status will use the picture and video capabilities for uploading to Facebook. For this use, though the camera quality is somewhat poor, it should be adequate.
The 1250 mAh battery that ships with the phone offered pretty decent performance. On standby, but with several widgets and notifications still running in the background, the battery lasted nearly four days. With normal use consisting of web browsing, e-mail, text messaging, social networking, and widgets and notifications running in the background, the Status got me through a full day. Battery life will vary depending on your use, but it will probably be safe to charge the phone every night.
The Status uses AT&T's HSPA 3G network for data transfer. Download speeds were decent, but inconsistent. Upload speeds were terrible. In speed test results, the Status got 1.5 Mbps a few times for downloads; however, average speeds were 400-500 Kbps with lows of about 300 Kbps. Upload speeds on the other hand averaged about 100 Kbps. Call quality with the Status was fairly good while testing it in the Dallas metropolitan area. Callers could be heard clearly, though background noise could also be heard. Still, voices were clear and easy to differentiate. Callers said that my voice was clear as well.
The Status may be a mid-range Android smartphone, but in a lot of ways, it doesn't act like one. HTC's customizations for the small display are excellent, the keyboard is one of the best I've used, and the dedicated Facebook button is extremely easy and useful. There are still some downsides to having a small display, but overall, the Status is an excellent phone for Facebook fans or even for people who use other social networking sites or do a lot of texting, simply because of the great keyboard and HTC's well-designed widgets. For the price, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything better.
What's Good: Excellent keyboard; Facebook button is very handy; customized version of HTC Sense works very well on the small display; good build quality; decent battery life.
What's Bad: Inconsistent 3G data speeds; poor camera quality; some apps only work in portrait mode, making it uncomfortable to use those apps.
The Verdict: For Facebook users or even people who text a lot and need a great keyboard as well as a good phone for a low price, the HTC Status is perfect.