AT&T (NYSE:T) July 11 said it would begin selling the HTC Status, which runs Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system, for $49.99 with a two-year contract July 17.
The HTC Status, available for viewing and preorder here, is considered a "Facebook Phone" because its key feature is a dedicated Facebook share button that sits below the handset's physical keyboard.
Users simply press the button to share status updates, photos and videos they like or have created with fellow Facebook users. Users may also check into the Facebook Places check-in service via the share button.
AT&T said the Status is also "context aware" because it lights up to alert users when there is an activity to share, such as a song, a Website or a photo.
The HTC Status also features a Facebook chat application, which lets users start conversations with a tap and keeps chat conversations running in the background while a user takes a call, or leaves to browse the Web.
The No. 1 U.S. carrier also said the Status is the first Android phone in the U.S. to run an enhanced version of the HTC Sense user interface that integrates Facebook into the handset's clock, dialer, calendar, address book and photo gallery.
Physical attributes of the HTC Status include a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and LED flash, with a front-facing camera for self-portraits. The HTC Status, which weighs 4.3 ounces, also has a 2.6-inch touch-screen with 480 by 320 resolution above the physical keyboard.
The device is fitted with a 1,250mAh lithium-ion battery, which enables 6.5 hours of talk time, and has only 512MB of internal memory. A 2GB microSD card is included.
AT&T, which is partnering with Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores to offer users an exclusive mauve edition, is targeting the device for high school or even college users before they head back to school. It is timed for back-to-school shoppers.
"We can't wait to put the HTC Status in the hands of our young customers who will waste no time tapping into Facebook to update their friends," said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "We're also really pleased to offer the hottest new smartphone at an affordable price to this important, socially savvy youth market."
For a smartphone running the latest Android Gingerbread build at that price point, it will be tough for parents to argue to their teenaged children and college goers that the handset is too expensive.
The handful of smartphones that run Gingerbread-Samsung Nexus S 4G and some Motorola Droids-cost around $199 with a contract.
The HTC Status is the HTC ChaCha smartphone the company unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February. AT&T is also expected to launch its version of the HTC Salsa Facebook phone, which has a 3.4-inch touch-screen.