When we first saw the HTC Status for ourselves a couple of weeks ago we were very impressed. It’s fast, sleek, and has an excellent keyboard. But there’s a reason we called that a First Look and not a full-blown review, as those were just our first thoughts after spending a few minutes with AT&T and HTC’s new Facebook and teen focused phone.
For the last couple of weeks we’ve put the Status under some much more intense testing. So, how does it hold up and if you’re on AT&T should it be your next phone? For those answers and more read on for our full Teen Review of the HTC Status.
Design and Screen
The HTC Status next to the BlackBerry Curve 3G
When you first look at the Status you’ll probably confuse it for a BlackBerry similar to the upcoming Bold Touch 9900. And for the Status this is a major complement. Like a BlackBerry, the Status feels great in your hand and is light but not too light that you’ll worry about it snapping in half. The Status also has a full QWERTY keyboard underneath it’s 2.6 inch touchscreen, and wow is this keyboard great. Within minutes of really using the phone we were typing as if we’ve had it for months.This is without a doubt one of the best keyboards we’ve ever used– right up there with the BlackBerry keyboard in our opinion– and a welcome surprise for a phone that costs just $50 on a new 2 year contract.
Now not everything was perfect with this part of the Status however. The 2.6 inch touchscreen for example, while very responsive, isn’t the sharpest we’ve seen– something which is very noticeable when looking at pictures, videos or websites. It’s okay and more than usable for viewing things like texts and Facebook updates, but it’s no iPhone Retina Display and is too small for enjoyably watching YouTube videos or movies.
Though again, for that $50 2 year contract price this is still a pretty good deal.
The Status comes with two cameras, a 5 megapixel one on the back with a second front camera for video chat. In our tests both cameras took solid photos and videos that were perfectly fine for sharing on Facebook. We did run into one major problem with the front camera though– no matter how many times we tried we couldn’t get video chat to work (and we tried a few different apps like Qik and Fring on both WiFi and 3G.).
But if you don’t plan on video chatting from your phone, the cameras on here are again, pretty solid. Here are some sample shots we took with the back camera (click to enlarge):
Audio and Call Quality
Audio and call quality on the Status were decent. Calls weren’t so clear that they blew us away, but they generally did sound was good enough (on our end and on those we called) to get the job done.
The same is true for music, videos and games. The sound we got from the built-in speaker didn’t wow us by being super loud and clear, but it wasn’t the worst we’ve heard either. In short, it’s no Infuse 4G, but it’s still pretty decent.
The Status is the first AT&T phone to ship with the latest version of Android, version 2.3 Gingerbread, right out of the box. In our tests this was a mixed bag. On the plus side, the main parts of the phone– the messaging app and Facebook app– worked great and we never ran into any slow downs or freezes in these apps. That being said, the rest of the Android experience wasn’t as great.
While the 800 Mhz processor makes for decent multitasking, it’s nowhere near as smooth as the 1 GHZ processors on phones like the Motorola Atrix 4G, HTC Inspire 4G and Samsung Infuse 4G. We constantly saw pop-ups saying we were running out memory and needed to close apps immediately (or that apps “stopped unexpectedly” and needed to close while we were in them). And things got even worse with apps from the Android Market.
As you can see, the BlackBerry-like design of the Status is extremely different from the large touchscreen designs of most other Android phones you see today (like those above AT&T 4G phones). And while this design is great for texting and Facebook, we constantly saw apps either open wrong (like you see above with the iheartradio app) or not run at all (like the hit game Gun Bros). Now this isn’t for all apps– for example Angry Birds, Pandora, Amazon Kindle, Gmail and YouTube all ran fine– but if you’re looking for phone that runs all the great apps that the Android Market has to offer, or a phone that’s great for more intense gaming, this isn’t for you.
As we mentioned in our first look, the Facebook button works as you’d expect. Facebook opened up immediately when we pressed it and sharing things with our friends was truly just a click away. You can use the button for quickly sharing pictures, links, checking into places or updating your status, all just by pressing that Facebook button in the lower right of the keyboard. We also really loved the Facebook chat widget HTC puts on the homescreen.
The Facebook app itself is pretty much the same as it would be on any other Android phone, but if you’re a Facebook addict, you’re really gonna love having that button.
HTC Status vs iPhone 4 in a Speedtest (Status on left, iPhone 4 on right)
Unlike most new AT&T Android phones, the Status doesn’t support AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ network and still runs on it’s slightly slower 3G network, something that for us was a pretty decent difference.
On AT&T’s 4G HPSA+ and higher-end 3G phones (like the iPhone 4) we generally saw speeds between 2-5 Mbps down and over 1 Mbps up, or fast enough to do most of your online tasks with little to no wait. On the Status though we saw much slower speeds of 1-3 Mbps down and less than .5 Mbps up. This means that things loaded, but not without some buffering and waiting (and some particularly long waits for things like YouTube videos).
We were able to get about 5 hours of battery life out of Status in our standard battery test of constantly streaming music over 3G while also doing some web browsing, Facebook, texting, and calls at the same time. In more normal use where you aren’t doing all that at the same time (and not constantly streaming music over 3G) you should expect this to get you through the day.
You’re gonna still have to recharge every night, but you probably were gonna do that on whatever phone you use.
Even with all it’s shortcomings we still have to say, we really like the Status. Sure it’s screen is nowhere near the quality of those other AT&T phones like the Infuse 4G and iPhone, and it’s much slower and less powerful than those other phones (both in terms of 3G/4G speed and how well apps run on it), but the Status isn’t trying to replace or compete with those phones.
The Status is a phone designed for people who want a great physical keyboard, easy access to sharing on Facebook, and the ability to install some Android apps like Angry Birds– all for a much cheaper $50 on 2 year contract (and it’s even cheaper if you buy at Best Buy where it’s free. You do though have to also get at least a $15 a month 250 MB data plan, which is more than enough for going online or updating Facebook– though not so great for uploading or watching a ton of videos).
And if you are that type of person that wants a real keyboard and is mainly using your phone to text and check Facebook (and don’t want to wait for the more powerful but likely more expensive BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900), then this is the phone for you.
The HTC Status is available now for $50 with new 2 year contract and data plan from AT&T