HTC ChaCha

Does HTC Sense and a new Facebook-centric launcher warrant its own hardware? We'll find out Thursday

With the unveiling of Facebook’s “new home on Android” just a couple of days away, the folks at Android Police have gotten hold of a system dump for the fabled HTC-built Facephone, to which they’ve given the APK teardown treatment. Details included in the ROM seem to confirm earlier rumors of a relatively pedestrian Android smartphone, powered by a dual-core Snapdragon S4 chip (MSM8960), 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, running on a 4.3-inch 720p screen. (In addition, the “HTC Myst” codename is seemingly confirmed, along with AT&T radio support.)

Also confirmed is the presence of Facebook Home, apparently a home screen launcher replacement based around the user’s own Facebook news feed. That's not a huge surprise -- Phil predicted as much in his Editor's column on Sunday and on Twitter a few days before that.

The new Facebook Home launcher apparently includes the permissions needed to access and import settings from the stock Android, TouchWiz and HTC Sense launchers, indicating it might see a separate release at some point. (Incidentally, although the phone appears to run HTC Sense 4+, the Sense launcher is nowhere to be found in this system dump.)

All of which leaves us with a few nagging questions. First, if Facebook Home won’t be exclusive to the “Myst,” then how is this different from the approach taken a couple of years ago in the ill-fated HTC ChaCha (Status) and Salsa. What’s the incentive to pick up a phone running last year’s hardware and last year’s software, for the sake of a custom launcher that’ll be available elsewhere anyway?

Wrote Phil:

All signs are pointing to some sort of new phone from HTC in conjunction with all this.


Why does a launcher or software layer or whatever the hell we're going to call it need new hardware? Is Facebook going to sell this hardware? Will it end up in Best Buy alongside the 5,000 other phones? On Amazon? Even if it ends up in carrier stores, that's no guarantee it'll sell enough to make it worth it.

There’s every chance Facebook will have something to pull out of its sleeve this Thursday. But until then we’re left wondering just what Facebook and HTC will be doing to differentiate this new handset.

Source: Android Police


Reader comments

'Facebook Home' APK teardown still doesn't answer the important question: Why hardware?


I think facebook is going to fail here. if they force the launcher on all phone then its time to uninstall the app.

Many people i know all they do is use facebook, they even get news on facebook

I think us techies shouldn't dismiss what appeals to the masses

In my opinion, a Facebook phone won't appeal to the masses. Most of my friends that use Facebook are perfectly content with just using the app. A Facebook launcher seems like overkill: a simpler solution would be to create multiple widgets that update in real-time. The phone will be DOA. This is all my opinion, of course.

Agreed. I even know plenty of people who prefer to use the mobile website and third-party solutions because the app is so crappy. Facebook isn't the end-all be-all for most folks mobile use, and I (like many others) thought they learned this lesson with the Cha Cha.

The rumored specs are pretty pedestrian. Imagine a One X type shell with a Facebook Blue shell. Perhaps the launcher does not warrant it's own hardware but then maybe the launcher is just one phase of Facebook's plan and the hardware will have things that need to be baked into a custom rom to work properly.

There are lots of teenagers who live on facebook and As Facebook offer voice calls, video calls, messenger all of which could replace the standard Google apps, I can see why they are going in this direction

Those teenagers...and everyone else...that lives on Facebook use A LOT of other Android/iOS/WM/BB apps. Nobody wants a Facebook accessory other than Facebook. DOA imo...but I'd throw a lot of weight around on this one.

Which would mean the loss of the Play Store. Teens are actually more tech-savvy than many adults. Do you REALLY think they would prefer a Facebook launcher without the Play Store (and other Google apps) over any other Android phone that has a Facebook app and access to the mobile Facebook website? I sure don't!

I really, really don't understand why they need a new hardware, unless they are going to be selling it for cheap. But then again why would they subsidized a phone to lose more money when clearly they have nothing to sell unlike Amazon and Google.

I suspect you guys are thinking, "Facebook home screen widget takes over home screen, ZOMG." Actually ... wouldn't a heavy hitter like FB be smart to actually introduce a full launcher replacement (a la Nova or ADW or Sense), with FB-specific features?

/Me surprised no one's thought of this before. If HTC sold a cross-hardware Sense launcher for Android 4.x, priced at $9.95 or even $19.95, think they'd sell many? I'd bet on it.

OTOH, if FB were smart -- and I make no argument that they're so savvy -- they could sign a deal with HTC for a massive minimum order of HTC handsets with FB-centric feature sets (hardware and software), and sell it ... wait for it ... according to Google's playbook, i.e. SIM-unlocked and sold direct to customers for a compelling (low) price. Ya think? ;)