When I asked all of you which device released this year should win the best award for design, I didn't include HTC's First. Why? Well, to be quite honest, it didn't really deserve to be on the list. And I'm not sure that that's anything HTC would be at all surprised about. The First isn't supposed to wow you with its physical appearance. Even with all the available colors.
The HTC First was, and still is technically, a first attempt. A first attempt from HTC and Facebook. This may not technically be the "first" phone to have some kind of Facebook functionality built in, but it is the first phone to make Facebook the whole show front-and-center. This was more of a leap from Facebook than it was HTC. The manufacturer just tagged along for the ride.
It helps that they built the ride, too, I guess.
There are a lot of Facebook users out there, and I imagine that a lot of them would love to have a phone dedicated to Facebook. The problem there is that there are already so many phones on the market that have some kind of Facebook functionality built in. Many of them bring your Facebook contacts to your contact list on your phone. Some of them even have your Facebook photo albums synced right to your device, so you can see them whenever you want without accessing the service directly.
If you want to make a Facebook phone, then, it has to do something that none of those other devices do. It can't just be more of the same, or the whole effort just gets wasted. There's just no point to the device existing -- especially if that device can't really stack up against the competition.
And, let's face it, the First doesn't really stack up against anything. It boasts a 4.3-inch 720x1280 Super LCD display, with a pixel per inch count around 342. There's a 5-megapixel camera on the back with an LED flash, and a 1.6MP camera on the front. Inside, you'll find a 1.4GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, with 1GB of RAM. It has built-in storage up to 16GB. The battery rests at 2,000mAh.
Basically, the HTC First is a mid-range device that doesn't really spark any real interest unless you're someone who likes every phone ever. However, as I pointed out in my review earlier this year, the First isn't a bad phone. But only after a specific moment happens: you turn off Facebook Home. Once you turn off the whole reason you're supposed to buy the phone, it actually becomes a decent device.
And that's why I still use it from time to time. The First hasn't lagged on me, once. The First hasn't locked up on me, or even had a single forced closure. Apps work well enough for a device with a dual-core processor running Android. And the screen may not be the best thing in the world, it's also not the worst one, either.
The First could have been a great device, I think. The trouble was that it launched for too much money, and to be quite honest, it's still too much money off-contract. It's still a device that's meant to be sold with a contract -- or with a payment plan. If you took a look at the price tag right now, it'd run you $439.99 to buy the First.
For reference, the Nexus 5 --a far, far superior device-- is being sold for $349.99 for the 16GB model.
Price is one of the most important aspects to anything, phones aren't any different. But it's the one thing that gets missed so frequently it's almost painful. The First could have been a great device, and it could be even to this day, if it weren't hindered by Facebook Home or a price tag that's just simply too high.
Did you ever get a chance to get your hands on a First? If so, what did you think of it? How would you have changed HTC's First, if given the opportunity? Let me know!