Stock Android on LTE, Facebook ads
The beauty of the First is that you can turn Home completely off. This leaves you with a mostly stock Android device running Jelly Bean.
There are a few installed apps from AT&T and HTC, according to The Verge, but for the most part it's just plain old Android without an annoying manufacturer overlay such as HTC's Sense. The only other significant alternative for getting a device running stock Android right out of the box is Google's Nexus 4. Unlike the 3G-hobbled Nexus 4, however, HTC's phone runs on faster LTE networks.
And, almost every reviewer remarked on the fact that, while they haven't arrived yet, Facebook ads are coming to the HTC First. Even though you're paying $99 for this phone with a two-year contract, you can still expect Facebook to deliver ads via Home.
Nobody knows what these ads will look like so it's not clear how intrusive they will be. Nevertheless, if you already hate seeing ads on Facebook's mobile apps, this may give you pause before diving in for two years with HTC's Facebook Phone.
Gain Facebook, lose Android
Home is an Android app launcher that works together with the Facebook and Facebook Messenger Android apps to create a Facebook-centric experience on your smartphone. If you own an HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III, or Samsung Galaxy Note II, you can also download Home on Friday to create a Facebook phone with your own handset.
Since Home just an Android overlay, this can apparently cause some collisions between Facebook's interface and Google's mobile OS.
Ars Technica warns that both Facebook and Android offer system alerts, which mean you can end up with a dual-notification stream. You also lose out on Android widgets on the lock screen with Home since this is all about Facebook notifications, and not updates from Gmail or Google+.
Baig wonders if Facebook Home is worth the tradeoff of sacrificing valuable home screen real estate for a pure Facebook experience. And Pogue went further than that, suggesting Facebook Home was not "worth losing widgets, wallpaper, app folders and the Android status bar in the process."
Overall, the opinion of many critics is that the First is a good phone to get, as long as you love Facebook. If you want the Facebook experience out of the box, then the First is the phone to get.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.