The HTC First is a cut-price smartphone featuring the brand new Facebook Home software. We explain why it’s big news for Android and judge whether you’d want to use it.
HTC First – what is it?
The HTC First is a mid-priced smartphone featuring the brand new Facebook Home software. It’s designed to bring Facebook to the forefront of your mobile experience so you can like statuses and reply to messages without having to switch between apps.
Facebook Home will be available to download through Google Play for several Android handsets, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2, but the HTC First is the only phone so far to have the software pre-installed. The First will initially be available in the UK via EE with a £31 per month contract for 500MB of 4G data being the cheapest deal on offer. This places it in competition with the Nokia Lumia 820, Huawei Ascend P1 and HTC One SV.
HTC First vs Facebook Home – what’s the difference?
The HTC First is a phone designed to tie-in with Facebook Home, just like the iPhone is a phone designed for Apple’s iOS operating system. It features a 4.3-inch touchscreen, a dual-core processor and a 5-megapixel camera.
These features won’t compete with premium handsets like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 but will do fine for a mobile where messaging and interacting with your friends is the priority; instead of watching HD video or playing graphically intensive apps.
Facebook Home puts Mark Zuckerberg’s social network right at the centre of you homescreen with two key features…
- Cover Feed – draws status updates and photos onto your phone’s homescreen without you having to enter Facebook’s Android app. You can ‘like’ photos by double-tapping the touchscreen and swipe to flick across a range of statuses. Text alerts and app notifications will also appear on your homescreen for easy access.
- Chat Heads – is Facebook Home’s way of drawing all your mobile messages into one place. Both text and Facebook messages are incorporated through the service, while Chat Head icons will appear as you browse through your phone. Again, the idea is that you’re in near-instantaneous reach of your friends when you want to contact them.
Expert opinion – Facebook Home is for messaging fanatics only
I’ve outgrown the teenage appeal of clocking up Facebook likes but there’s no doubt the reasonably-priced HTC First will appeal to its young target audience.
That said, downloading Facebook Home when it’s released on April 12 will require you to place your social life in the hands of a company. Facebook has allowed you to merge your texts with its messaging app for some time but I’m hesitant to place so much information in one basket. Chat Heads is another nudge towards this combined method of communication.
It’s also been confirmed that Facebook Home will eventually support advertising. This means you could be greeted by a prompt to buy a new pair of trainers when you turn on your phone – similar to the Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet which features special offers on its lockscreen. I’d find the advertising an annoying enough reason not to download Facebook Home.
Those who still use Facebook regularly may migrate to Facebook Home but you would need to be a very committed user to really benefit from the new features.