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Review: HTC First and Facebook Home

Form Performance FB Home Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  5  

Apr 17, 2013, 9:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T and HTC are back with another Facebook phone. The First, with Facebook Home, offers an interesting alternative for those who put a priority on Facebook's brand of social networking.

Is It Your Type?

AT&T and HTC are back with another phone that's focused on being social. The HTC First is the first to ship with Facebook Home, a unique Android launcher that puts all things Facebook front and center. There's no doubt the First is aimed at the connected social networking butterfly, but there are other traits that make the First a decent device even for regular people.


The HTC First has none of the HTC One's fancy design elements. It is as simple and unassuming as a smartphone could possibly be. Everything about the First is minimalistic. That's what makes it such a nice piece of hardware.

The First is a slab-style device that comes in four colors, including black, red, teal, and white. Our review unit is black, and it is an inky thing. The First is made from polycarbonate that has a soft-touch paint job. The unibody polycarbonate forms the entire back surface and the sides as they curve up to the display. The First is incredibly strong, but this design does have drawbacks. For example, there's no access to the battery, nor is there a memory card slot.


The First feels very well built. I like that the back surface is completely flat: this makes it easy to type on the First when it is laying on a table, for example (this is something you cannot do with the HTC One, which has a curved back surface). All the side edges are curved comfortably and have no seams, not even where the edges meet the display, which is tapered. There's nothing on which to catch your skin as you hold it. It is smooth.

The First's front surface is mostly the display, but there is a thin bezel above the display and a slightly larger one below the display. The lower bezel is where the three capacitive buttons are located. They each worked well, and offer haptic feedback. There's no logo on the front, so the buttons are the only thing breaking up the otherwise solid black piece of glass.

Located on the left edge, the volume toggle is a dramatic improvement over other recent HTC devices. It has just enough of a profile to ensure that you'll find it easily, but not so much that it'll bug you when holding the device tightly. Travel and feedback are quite good. The only other button is the screen lock key, which is on top. It, too, has a good profile and excellent travel and feedback. Both of these buttons work better than their counterparts on the pricier HTC One. There is no dedicated camera button.

You'll plug your stereo headphones into the headset jack on top of the First and your microUSB cable into the port on the right edge. The slot for accessing the SIM card is also on the right, and requires a tool or thin paper clip to pop out. As HTC is wont to do, it drilled a series of extremely small holes into a grid pattern along the bottom edge. The microphone is buried in there, as is the speakerphone speaker.

Though the First doesn't have the same showroom appeal that the One does, it's clear that HTC put thought and care into its design.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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Apr 17, 2013, 11:59 AM


I wonder how this is actually going to work. I mean Facebook has not even developed a working app that doesnt force close, lag, and or "network disconnect" all the time.

I would like to see a functional app first 🙂.
Forevar beta. Expect a lot of crashes is my guess.

Apr 17, 2013, 10:12 AM

best part is a cheap nexus-like android

Turn facebook home off and it gets nexus-like android experience for cheap.
Yes, but one that is running an older version (4.1 vs. 4.2) and may or may not get updates as quickly or often as a true Nexus...

Apr 17, 2013, 10:30 AM

I can't wait

for all the calls to start coming in for data overage issues that this is going to cause when parents buy these for a kid and put them on a 300mb plan
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