HTC First review: The socialite
The Phonebook is the stock Android app, which hasn't been changed since its major redesign with the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich.
It's made up of three tabs that you can switch between with sideways swipes. The middle tab is the default one, listing all of your contacts. Contacts are listed with a name and a picture to the right. They can be sorted by first or last name, and viewed as first name or last name first.
There's a permanent scroll bar available that you can grab and jump straight to contacts starting with a certain letter. There's regular search as you type too.
The quick contacts feature triggers on tapping a contact image to bring up a tabbed popup window. The tabs are phone and email with a list of the available numbers or addresses. These tabs can be navigated with sideways swipes as well.
The single contact view displays the contact's name along with a star to favorite a contact and a Settings button that lets you edit, share or delete a contact, as well assign custom ringtones to them or set the phone to redirect calls from that contact straight to voice mail.
Under that is a list of all contact info sorted by category - phone numbers, emails, events, notes and so on.
While editing a contact, you can add new fields of different types to fill in more info for the contact. You can link contacts too, if you've added the same person on multiple services.
The contacts that the phonebook displays can be filtered by service (e.g. hide all Facebook contacts) and even group (so you can hide all contacts that don't belong in a group, for example).
The other two major tabs in the phonebook are Groups and Favorites. Groups are listed by service (e.g. your Gmail account), while favorites are a listed as a grid of large contact photos, which is readily thumbable.
The dialer features the new neon-blue on black theme, but hasn't grown any new functionality. There's still no smart dialing, which is a real shame.
The dialer is just the first tab of the phone app, the other two being the Call log and the Favorites tab (you get the same in the Phonebook). In the Call log, you can't delete individual entries, which was mildly annoying.
Call quality of the HTC First was good. We found nothing to frown at on this instance.
The messaging section is business as usual but with some improvements. All SMS/MMS communication is organized into threads - each thread consists of all messages between you and one of your contacts. A cool new feature is that you can select multiple threads to mass delete them.
Each thread is organized like an IM chat session, the latest message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them (to prevent deletion). You can use search to find a specific message in all conversations.
Quick contacts work here too and there's a call shortcut at the top of the screen when viewing a thread.
You can add multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.), which will convert the message to an MMS. If you need multiple slides or multiple attachments, you can go to a full-blown MMS editor as well.
Moving onto email, the Gmail app has grown handy shortcuts at the bottom of the screen but is mostly unchanged. It supports batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. The default app supports multiple Gmail accounts, but there's no unified inbox.
A cool new feature in Gmail is that you can swipe left or right to move between messages in your inbox.
The shortcuts on the bottom of the screen are new email, search, labels, refresh and settings.
There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
Unlike its Gmail counterpart, this app supports a combined inbox view. It color codes the inboxes so you can easily tell where each message came from. Unfortunately, there's no moving between messages with sideways swipes here.
Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.
Text input is handled by the standard Android Jelly Bean keyboard. There are no surprises here. Voice typing is also at your service.