HTC Status/ChaCha [Review]
The HTC Status has recently been launched in Canada and is officially the first device to integrate a dedicated Facebook button into its design. With the total number of worldwide Facebook users reaching 750 million, 170 million of which reside in North America alone, it was only a matter of time until the social networking giant was made available to the reach of our fingertips.
Follow us after the break for an in-depth look and see if this device holds up to its self proclaimed title of Facebook Phone.
Quick Specification Overview:
- Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread with HTC Sense 2.1 UI
- 2.6″ Capacitive Touch Display with resolution of 480 x 320
- 800 MHz Processor
- 512MB RAM
- 512MB Internal Storage
- 5 MP Rear-Facing Camera with LED Flash and 1.3 MP Front-Facing Camera
- Portrait QWERTY Keyboard with Facebook button
- Dimensions of 114 x 66.5 x 10.8 mm
- 120 g
On the front of the device we are presented with a 2.6-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen at a resolution of 480 by 360.Above the display we find a front-facing 1.3 MP camera. It is nice to see HTC include a front-facing camera especially on a lower end device. Below the display are the infamous 4 Android buttons; Home, Menu, Back, and Search. Further below the 4 buttons we find two dedicated call keys, talk and end, and last but not least is the keyboard.
We surprisingly enjoyed the experience on this keyboard. Our team included members who have experienced a number of Blackberry devices, who have been known for their keyboard excellence, and those who are new to experience of a dedicated keyboard. The keys were evenly and comfortably distributed and each key was well sized, making typing a breeze. The inclusion of the directional keys are is a welcomed feature despite not being heavily used due to the touchscreen capabilities of the display, but in typing situations it has definitely come in handy.
In addition, HTC has thrown in conventional send and end keys into the mix which some users, especially those coming from a Nokia device, might enjoy. In retrospect this space could have been used to add more screen revenue to the miniature display. For users coming from a 4″ display this might be a challenge because the 2.6″ display on the Status leaves something to be desired. However, the device is catered to a certain demographic and that is not for the high-end device enthusiast, it is for the mid-to-entry-level audience who deeply enjoys their social networking.
The HTC Status has been dubbed the Facebook Phone due to the Facebook button found on the bottom right of the device. After logging into the Facebook app, the button is capable of a number of different applications. Initially, just pressing the button at anytime brings up a screen allowing the user to post text, pictures, and/or videos to their wall. We will discuss more about the button shortly.
On the top of the device is the power/sleep/wake button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. A similar annoyance as we found on other HTC devices is the placement of the power button. Placing the button on the top forces the user to overstretch or move their hand to press the button. We would have rather preferred to have the button on the side as found on other Android devices, but that is a preference some users might not agree with.
On the left side we find the volume rocker and the microUSB port. The volume keys are similar to other HTC devices and are a pleasure to use.
On the rear of the device is the 5MP autofocus camera with an LED flash. The camera takes decent photos with natural light being a defining factor in the overall picture quality. The phone’s camera won’t be replacing your dedicated point-and-shoot but for quick uploads to Facebook, the camera is just fine. The camera is also capable of shooting videos of up to 720 by 480 resolution (Not true 720p which is of 720 by 1280 pixels). Similarly, video quality isn’t something to brag about to your friends, but it fits the standards found in many 5MP cameras on the market.
Despite today’s smartphone marketing the primary and most fundamental use of a cellphone is voice communication. The HTC Status’ call quality is quite clear with no white noise on either end of the many calls we had tested. The headset speaker (front of the phone) volume is sufficient in the average environment but can be inadequate in noisier instances. The speakerphone on the back of the device is respectable but with slight crackling when voice/music is on the maximum volume.
The software on the HTC Status has been altered to match the usage of their social media-heavy target audience. HTC adds the appropriate social flair by integrating the Facebook shortcut button in common tasks within their Sense UI. The device is running Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a further customized HTC Sense 2.1 UI.
There are a generous number of social media applications including Widgets like Friend Stream which meshes your Twitter and Facebook feeds all into one convenient stream. HTC has also included a Facebook Messaging app that allows you to hold conversations through Facebook’s chat system. This is great for those who communicate through this service and truly shows the social aspect that this device promotes.
As mentioned before, one click of the Facebook button allows you to post status updates including any media you want to share with your networks.
When you hold the button down this allows you to check-in through the Facebook application and post your location accompanied with the media you desire. A neat feature of the button is when there is any application or media being displayed on the device that can be uploaded to Facebook, such as a picture or a video, the Facebook button will begin to blink to notify you the displayed content can be uploaded to Facebook. This isn’t quite fundamental; however it shows that they have tried to incorporate the button as best they could. Some interesting ideas could have lead to possible notifications or alerts being displayed through the button to notify a user of impending messages or events.
Moving onto other applications, the miniature display seems to be a detriment when it comes to displaying third party apps that aren’t accustomed to running in landscape. An example of this is the Speedtest application which launches and displays vertically on the device, forcing you to abandon your QWERTY keyboard and turn the device sideways. We are not certain if other apps face this same trouble but we can see how this can be a potential issue if the use of the keyboard is necessary.
The 800MHz processor equipped with 500MB of RAM allowing the HTC Status to run as smoothly as we could desire. This is mostly due to the fact that the above average CPU has a minimal task in pushing the graphics to the small display and resolution of the device, but nonetheless leaves this phone functioning admirably even under strenuous conditions. The same Qualcomm MSM7227 800 MHz processor can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Ace.
We initially thought that the 1250 mAh battery alongside the small display and resolution would promise great battery life with heavy usage off a single charge. However our equation did not pan out as well as we hoped. The device got us through the day just before the evening. That is of course with heavy usage including web browsing, downloading of applications, tethering, sending emails/tweets/text messages. These are all things I would regularly do on any of my personal devices and the HTC Status was not cut out for that sort of use. I would strongly suggest picking up another battery or making sure you have an available wall charger handy during your evening escapades.
The overall build quality is excellent as can be expected with most HTC devices. The Status is catered to a social media loving audience and it does well to supply them with the tools to easily manage and communicate to their distributed networks. For those who tend to pickup the latest and greatest Android powered smartphones, this is not the phone for you. However, if you enjoy texting, social networking, require a high quality dedicated keyboard, and wouldn’t mind having a touchscreen thrown into the mix, eat your heart out. The pricing for the device at Telus is reasonable if not generous for the product you receive. The HTC Status can be purchased for $250 on a no term contract, $200 on a 1-year term, $150 on a 2-year term, and $0 on a 3 year term. This has just recently been changed from an initial price point of $30 with a 3 year contract.