When I pulled the new HTC Status out of the box, I was prepared to absolutely hate the device. With its Blackberry-like form factor and lack of virtual keyboard, I figured this device was going to be an exercise in ‘90's throwback. However, I was — surprisingly enough — quite impressed with the total package. Yes, the hardware is a bit of a step backwards (a tiny screen and always-there keypad), but the phone packs a punch and will make any Facebook junkie a happy social butterfly. But are Facebook Friends the only people who will enjoy this quaint device? Let's find out.
- OS: Android 2.3 + HTC Sense
- Display: HVGA 2.6 touch screen with 480x320 resolution
- Network: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/Edge 850/900/1800/1900/UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900
- Memory: 512 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
- Processor: MSM 7227 800 MHz
- Battery: Lithium-ion 1250 mAh
- Camera: 5 MP with autofocus + front-facing VGA
What jumps out at me from the above list is the processor and memory. Older phones, such as the HTC EVO, blow those specs away, so what could possible entice users to purchase a lesser-powered machine? It's all about perceived value. With the unique features that accompany the Status vs. the lack of power, the user base begins to narrow by leaving the power user behind.
So, I keep mentioning these unique features on the Status. Just what are they? Here's the short list:
- Facebook OneTouch Share: On the face of the device, below the keypad, there is a button with the iconic Facebook logo. When you push that button, you can instantly post a Facebook status, upload a photo from your phone, or take a snapshot with the camera and upload it to your Facebook wall.
- Lock Screen Shortcuts: When the phone is locked, you can open favorite apps by simply dragging them to the "lock ring." This means that you no longer have to unlock the phone to get to your most-used apps.
- Special Effects for Photos: Instead of always posting standard photos to Facebook, add some special effects, such as sepia tone, old fashion photo, aqua, and more.
Outside of these things, this is your standard Android-powered phone... somewhat. Why do I say that? The main drawback of this phone is the screen size. While I really appreciate the physical keyboard, having that keyboard take away precious screen real estate seems like a bit of backward thinking. This is a phone designed with social networking in mind, and cutting down on the screen size is counterproductive to that task. Viewing Facebook on the tiny screen isn't easy. And browsing other web sites? Forget it!
That small screen might be key to one really great aspect of the HTC Status — battery life. Of all the Android-based mobiles I've used (and I've used plenty), this handset has, by far, the best battery life. I did a simple comparison. I activated all services on two different phones (HTC Incredible 2 and HTC Status) and left them on standby. After two days, the Incredible 2 was dead. After five days, the Status still had over three quarters of its battery life. That's a significant difference.
However, standby battery is no way to judge the battery life of a phone. With the full barrage of services running (Wireless, GPS, Bluetooth), the Status stood up to the best of the Android-based mobiles I have used (such as the EVO, Captivate, Incredible 1 and 2). So, battery life is neither an issue nor a compelling enough reason to purchase this device.
Another upside of the Status is the HTC Sense UI. Outside of one or two user interfaces that can be downloaded from the Android Market, Sense is the best of the best. And even on the somewhat underpowered Status, Sense UI runs flawlessly. Of course, if you don't like Sense UI, this is Android, so you can install another launcher.
The biggest upside the Status offers is physical. The keypad is quite nice, especially for those who have trouble dealing with the virtual keyboards. Not only does the physically feedback make typing a bit better, but the spacing of the keys is quite nice. Also, the very shape of the device (there's a slight bend in the middle of the handset) makes it easy to use as a phone (remember, they are still phones) and hold in one hand.
The big question
Unlike many reviewers, I like to ask myself this one question: Is this product one I would drop my hard-earned change for? My answer is a resounding "No." Although I like what the Status does to make Facebook posting a breeze, not being a Facebook junkie means that this phone doesn't offer enough to get me to pay the price of admission. But, if you are constantly posting on Facebook and don't mind the small screen size, the Status might be the perfect phone for you.
See these related posts and photo galleries of the HTC Status:
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.