The HTC First is one of the more intriguing Android phones I've had the chance to review. The result of a collaboration between HTC and Facebook, the First is the first phone to ship with Facebook Home preinstalled--doing away with the traditional Android home screen in favor of a continuous Facebook news feed. Apps such as Gmail and Maps are hidden away, while the official Facebook and Messaging apps take center stage. The phone is aimed at fans of the social network, but the First's unassuming design and modest $100 price tag (with an accompanying 2-year contract on AT&T) should prove enticing to anyone looking for a smartphone on a budget.
Keep it simple
The first thing you'll notice when handling the phone is its size: Measuring 4.96 by 2.56 by 0.35-inches, the First has roughly the same dimensions as the Apple iPhone 5. The phone is composed primarily of a soft-touch plastic that makes it pleasant to hold, and the device's smaller stature makes it easy to use one-handed. Like the HTC One, the First boasts a simple design that helps keep the phone from feeling overly complicated. The buttons on the First all feel sturdy and responsive, though I had trouble keeping the phone's MicroUSB cable securely in the charging port.
The phone lacks a user replaceable battery, and there's no MicroSD card slot, which means you're stuck with the 16GB of on-board memory for storing your apps, photos, music, and movies. Most won't care about these missing features, but it's something worth considering if you're someone that likes to have Michael Jackson's entire discography with you at all times. The First's 4.3-inch display packs an impressive 341 pixels per inch (ppi), making it sharper than the Retina display on the iPhone 5, though the screen looks unusually dark even on the brightest settings.
The First lacks the Beats audio software found on pretty much every other current HTC phone, and as a result, audio played through the phone's speaker sounds hollow. The speaker's location is also inconvenient--when holding the phone in landscape mode, your hand often covers it up, which leaves you with muffled sound while watching videos or playing games.
Although the First has a 5-megapixel camera, photos taken with the phone came out very grainy with a lot of digital noise. The phone can shoot 1080p video, which looked okay, but suffered from minor stutters and tears. The camera is painfully mediocre, but if all you are doing is uploading your photos to Facebook then it should suit your needs just fine.
Home sweet home?
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