HTC First Android phone (preview)

The HTC First is best described as a mid-range Android phone that comes pre-loaded with Facebook's new Android launcher, Facebook Home

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HTC First
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Pros

  • Facebook Home looks attractive
  • Minimalist, simple design

Cons

  • No plans for AU launch
  • No microSD card slot
  • No 4G for Australia

Bottom Line

The HTC First is best described as a mid-range Android phone that comes pre-loaded with Facebook's new Android launcher, Facebook Home.

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The long-rumoured "Facebook phone" is here and it's called the HTC First. Well, sort of. The HTC First is best described as a mid-range Android phone that comes pre-loaded with Facebook's new Android launcher, Facebook Home.

HTC First a distant second in Australia

Many will classify the HTC First as a "Facebook phone" but this is really not the case. The First is a fairly standard, mid-range Android phone with a Facebook launcher. That launcher is Facebook Home, a new software overlay for Android phones that gives quick access to Facebook services from the lock and home screens.

Facebook Home obviously puts Facebook front and center on the First. Both the lock and home screens of the device are filled with content your friends post, called "Cover Feed". Regular functions like the app drawer are still accessible but this has been pushed to the background.

Facebook Home puts Facebook front and center on the First.
Facebook Home puts Facebook front and center on the First.

In addition to Facebook posts, Facebook Home has a big focus on messaging. The launcher has a feature called "Chat Heads" which pops up a circular icon when you receive a message. This icon can remain on the edge of the screen while you're using other apps and a pop-up box can be displayed when you want to type a message. The Chat Heads feature works with both Facebook messages and regular text messages.

Interestingly, you can turn Facebook Home off on the First if you wish. This will revert to Google's stock Android launcher and not HTC's Sense UI. The First will initially ship with the 4.1 Jelly Bean version of Android, but there's been no word on an update cycle.

Facebook Home has a heavy emphasis on messaging.
Facebook Home has a heavy emphasis on messaging.

Aside from Facebook Home, the First is a relatively straightforward, mid-range Android handset. It has a 4.3in touchscreen with a 720p HD resolution of 1280x720, 16GB of internal memory and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. Disappointingly, the HTC First does not have a microSD card slot, so users won't be able to expand the 16GB of built-in storage.

The HTC First will be available in black, white, blue and red colour variants. Its design is very simple and straightforward with a smooth, uninterrupted finish on the back, slightly curved sides and a flat front. Below the screen are three capacitive buttons (back, home and multitasking) but the icons used differ from the stock Android buttons.

The HTC First is powered by a Qualcomm 8930AA 1.4GHz dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM and includes a 2000mAh non-removable battery. The First is a quad-band 3G device but it isn't compatible with the 1800MHz 4G network band used in Australia by Telstra and Optus.

None

Despite launching in multiple global markets including the US, UK and France, a HTC spokesperson confirmed to PC World Australia that the company has no plans to launch the device in Australia at this stage.

A promotional video of HTC Home can be seen below.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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