HTC Status initial hands-on impressions

Creating the perfect phone is an extremely hard task.  Most people can agree that a loaded spec sheet is a great place to start, but when it comes down to software and hardware design it’s extremely hard to please the subjective tastes of the masses.  While Apple aims to please everyone with a one-size-fits-all model, Android manufacturers have gone the opposite route, creating niche products for niche demographics.

Enter the HTC Status. The handset’s exterior design is a throwback to when the HTC Dash ruled the planet as one of the best Windows Mobile messaging phones.  Fortunately for us, the…

Creating the perfect phone is an extremely hard task.  Most people can agree that a loaded spec sheet is a great place to start, but when it comes down to software and hardware design it’s extremely hard to please the subjective tastes of the masses.  While Apple aims to please everyone with a one-size-fits-all model, Android manufacturers have gone the opposite route, creating niche products for niche demographics.

Enter the HTC Status. The handset’s exterior design is a throwback to when the HTC Dash ruled the planet as one of the best Windows Mobile messaging phones.  Fortunately for us, the introduction of Android has ushered in a new era of smartphones. But I do have to say the portrait QWERTY design of the HTC Status is a welcome change in a never-ending sea of generic Android slab devices.

The specs on the HTC Status will not impress any of your friends (2.6-inch landscape touch screen, 800 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM/ 512 MB ROM, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, front-facing VGA camera, four row QWERTY keyboard and a dedicated Facebook button) but it does have the potential to be a big success. AT&T plans to launch the HTC Status on July 17th for $50 with a new two-year contract.

The HTC Status’ main selling point is the dedicated Facebook button and the phone’s tight integration with Facebook.  The Facebook button allows you to easily share what you’re doing (listening to music, watching YouTube, browsing the web, using Google Maps and much more) with your friends with one simple button press.  But what if you’re not so into Facebook?  Well, let’s not forget the HTC Status is still an Android phone with access to the Android Market and capable of doing pretty much anything you want it to.

The HTC Status has no problem playing Angry Birds Rio, Glow Hockey or even iRunner, but if you’re hoping to play some intensive 3D games you may be disappointed.  I tried loading up Dungeon Defenders and Gun Bros, but was treated to multiple force closes before I could even start playing.  The low resolution screen (480 x 320 pixel) is most likely the culprit, but we do have a feeling the HTC Status would be able to handle some light 3D gaming.

Most other applications from the Android market worked flawlessly, but I was annoyed at times with the choices made by app developers.  The HTC Status forces most apps to display in landscape mode so that the user does not have to rotate the phone all the time.  Unfortunately many applications that have a landscape layout simply stretch the portrait layout to fit the display rather than reorganize the layout to maximize screen real-estate.

The portrait keyboard on the HTC Status felt a little cramped at first, but after a full day with the phone I’m able to type just as fast as I do with the G2.  Ergonomically, the keyboard isn’t as good as what RIM offers on their Blackberry devices, but the build quality of the handset has certainly made a few Blackberry users here in the office turn green with envy.

The HTC Status is certainly not a phone for current Android users, but it may be the perfect stepping stone for anyone who’s looking to upgrade from their flip phone or wanting to trade up from their Blackberry. The Status’ Facebook integration is certainly intriguing, but I don’t think it’s enough to make it one of the main selling points for the phone.

Let us know your thoughts and impressions of the HTC Status.  Is the phone appealing to you?  If not, what does HTC need to do to create a successful portrait-QWERTY Android device?


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