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Editor's Letter: The social smartphone

Tim Stevens

In each issue of Distro, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

There's a good chance 2011's HTC Status, with its portrait QWERTY layout and dedicated Facebook button, never found its way into your social network. That last attempt at the mythical Facebook phone failed to garner much praise, but if social networks gave up so easily, well, we'd all still be using MySpace. HTC and Facebook are at it again, this week launching the $99 First, exclusively on AT&T in the US.

Yes, it's a name every commenter could love (or hate).

Yes, it's a name every commenter could love (or hate), a title cheekily reminiscent of the HTC One. This, though, is a rather different device, aiming more toward the mid-range and relying on some serious social integration to make it stand out. It's the first phone running the Facebook Home interface, which will be available on many devices starting on April 12th. It delivers a far more comprehensive Facebook experience than the previous apps have managed, and intriguingly Zuckerberg himself said that Home is "the next version of Facebook." The end of the web? Stay tuned.

DNP Editor's Letter The social smartphone

Meanwhile, the One went on pre-sale this week on both Sprint and AT&T, ahead of an April 19th launch. Both carriers are selling the 32GB version for $200 on-contract, while AT&T has the 64GB version exclusively for $300.

The next Nexus 7 entered rumored-existence status this week courtesy of Reuters, which reported the second-gen tablet will launch in July and will sport a higher-res screen and an as-of-yet unnamed Qualcomm processor. That would fit nicely with an unveiling at Google I/O this year, don't you think?

Gallery: HTC One review (2013) | 98 Photos

Tim Cook issued a surprise apology to the Chinese market this week after some very negative reactions to the company's warranty policy, which would often see refurbished parts and devices used as replacements instead of the new ones used in other markets. That's now changed, with those new replacements now covered by a full warranty as well, in keeping with China's "Three Guarantees" law. Additionally, Apple service providers will be receiving more supervision to ensure everything is kept above the table and a new, more direct feedback system has been put in place for consumers to issue complaints.

Michael Dell finally and kindly gave us some clues about just what he wants to do with a private Dell.

Michael Dell finally and kindly gave us some clues about just what he wants to do with a private Dell. Those hoping for a shocking reinvention of the stalwart PC maker had best turn away now, as Dell's Dell plans don't fall far from the company's current objectives. He does pledge for stronger investments into R&D and a push into developing markets, but consumer laptops and tablets will continue to be a strong focus while a bolstered sales team would help boost corporate partnerships. So, nothing drastically new -- just slightly refocused.

T-Mobile delivered some unfortunate news to its Windows Phone fans, saying the Lumia 810 will not be receiving an update to enable LTE connectivity on the UnCarrier's network. This was an update promised by T-Mobile back in January and was surely something of a buying factor for current 810 owners. Meanwhile, TmoNews has what appears to be a confirmation that current unlocked iPhone 5s will be able to install an update to enable LTE, Visual Voicemail and more. Bit of a shame that those who bought their devices elsewhere will get the love that Lumia owners won't.

DNP Editor's Letter The social smartphone

Tesla announced first-quarter sales for the Model S, which exceeded expectations by 250 units for a total of 4,750. That's the good news. The bad news is that the company is killing off the most affordable version, the 40 kWh pack that would have sold for $60,000. Only 4 percent of those who pre-ordered went for that option, and indeed they'll still get a car for that price if they want, but it'll actually be a 60 kWh car with software limited to match the smaller pack. If and when they want to upgrade, a phone call -- and an $11,000 charge -- will remove that restriction. Tesla also launched a leasing program this week, for those who really want a Model S, but who sadly can't afford a Model S.

Gallery: Razer Edge Pro review | 62 Photos

In this week's Distro we have a pair of reviews: the Razor Edge Pro modular gaming tablet, which made quite a stir at CES this year, and MSI's Slidebook S20, which takes the slider route to attempted Ultrabook bliss. We have hands-on with both the GameStick and OUYA (our full review of the latter will come in next week's issue), Ross Rubin analyzes the UnCarrier's plans and Joshua Fruhlinger discusses the perils of an always-Googling society. V-MODA's Val Kolton does Q&A and a new IRL installment will let you know just how we get on with our gadgets in the real world. That's something worth sharing.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #85.

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