HTC First hands-on (update: video)

After endless months of speculation, the collaboration between HTC and Facebook has finally been revealed to the world. It's not a Facebook Phone per se, it's simply a skinned Android smartphone that just so happens to bestow deep social media integration upon the OS, a move which makes the First -- as well as future devices that feature the newly announced Facebook Home interface -- an appropriate candidate for the term. The First will be available April 12th for $100 on AT&T, but it can be pre-ordered starting today.

While Facebook Home is taking the spotlight, let's examine the first piece of hardware it will be featured on. On the spec sheet, the First isn't going to take anybody's breath away: it's a midrange phone with 1.4GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB RAM, 5MP rear camera and 1.6MP front-facing cam, Android 4.1 and a 4.3-inch 720p display. We're just getting our hands on the device right now and will continue to offer up our First impressions, along with a full gallery of images.


The First won't be the only device featuring Facebook Home, as it will be available for download on a limited number of flagship phones next week, but the idea is for the First to offer more optimizations in the experience: it's a cleaner setup process since it's pre-loaded on the phone, and it can take advantage of a few additional service integrations that legacy devices won't offer.

At 125.6 x 64.93 x 8.96mm and 4.37 ounces, the First is one slender and lightweight handheld. We're also pleasantly surprised by its rounded edges and matte rubberized shell -- both result in a comfortable and pleasant feel when cradled in the hand. The 4.3-inch 720p screen seemed bright enough under the demo room's task lighting, though it's obviously not as sharp as the One's. Flipping through Home's UI felt zippy enough thanks to that dual-core Snapdragon processor, but it didn't strike us as a super speedster either. Of course, we doubt it's really meant to be the most powerful device on the block: the First appears to be aimed not at power users, but at Facebook connoisseurs that simply want to be connected to friends and family as often as possible.

Taking a brief tour of the phone's exterior, the First doesn't have any fancy dedicated Facebook button or removable battery (the latter is par for the course on HTC devices, so no surprise there). A volume rocker is featured on the left side, while a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack are housed on the top. Residing to the phone's right is the micro-SIM tray and micro-USB charging port. Hanging out on the bottom is a speaker grille, and a camera with LED flash live on the top left corner of the back.

As for the front, the 4.3-inch 720p panel naturally takes up the bulk of the real estate, with an average-sized bezel to the sides, 1.6MP front-facing cam and proximity sensor just above the screen and a setup of three capacitive buttons: back, home and menu. On the whole, the First strikes us as a pretty simple phone, and its design reflects that. Check out our hands-on video below; we also go into more detail on Facebook Home here, so follow along for more info.

Zach Honig and Nicole Lee contributed to this report.