HTC First Facebook Phone Specifications, Price Guesstimate : No HTC Sense User Interface, Stock Android Jelly Bean UI Under FB Home Skin

Aside from Facebook Home, the leading social networking site in the world likewise announced the first smartphone to runs its new launcher for Android - the HTC First - in an exclusive media event Thursday last week.

If you can still remember, FB and HTC have already partnered in the past for a similar project. In 2011, they came up with the rather cute HTC ChaCha, which became a very moderate success. After two years, the two companies have decided to continue with their alliance to offer another innovative handset in the market.

Unlike the HTC ChaCha that sports a QWERTY keyboard, the HTC First is a full touchscreen phone with a 4.3" screen having 720p HD resolution. It has the three standard capacitive buttons right below the screen, similar to other touchscreen Android phones in the market, and comes replete with a 1.4 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, and Android 4.1 Jellybean operating system that's supposed to deliver a buttery-smooth performance to its users, and a non-removable 2,000 mAh Li-Ion battery pack. At the same time, the phone comes with a 5 MegaPixel autofocus camera with LED flash at the back and a 1.6 MegaPixel front-facing camera. In terms of connectivity, the HTC First - with dimensions of 125.6 x 64.93 x 8.96 mm - utilizes Wi-Fi, LTE, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.0.

The handset flaunts a matte rubberized shell, and is available in four colors - Black, White, Pale Blue, and Red.

"It has cool features and decent specifications, and I'm curious about Facebook Home. But what's really interesting about HTC First - for me, at least - is that it's the first HTC Android release after so long not to have HTC Sense user interface," Mark of TP told me. "G2 was the last smartphone from the Taiwanese company that came with stock Android UI. If I get this HTC First, I'll try out Facebook Home and if I'm not crazy about it, I'll disable the skin to get all that Jelly Bean goodness sans HTC Sense. Don't get me wrong. HTC Sense is one of the best skins for Android but I just want to experience how 'bare' Android works on a current HTC release. Isn't that exciting?"

In the United States, the HTC First is exclusively offered by AT&T at $99.99 under a two-year contract. There is no news yet if this smartphone will be available locally, but there's a good chance that this will be launched in Philippine market within this year. As for the SRP, the handset sells for 449 Euros (roughly Php 24,000) in other territories so HTC First will definitely be more expensive than HTC ChaCha at launch.

Filipinos are particularly fond of being on Facebook so there's a huge potential for this phone and with the right marketing and advertising strategy it can definitely succeed here. If and when it reaches our shores, however, I really think that this handset should be bundled with affordable data plans by local telecommunication companies to allow users to fully utilize the features of Facebook Home.

#TPWriterFellows Batch 1 Member and Ateneo de Manila University professor, Patrick Valentin is a part-time Masteral student at University of the Philippines Diliman and a full-time technology geek. Patrick sees TechPinas as the go-to site for tech information. Eventually, he plans to empower the youth through technology and entrepreneurship.