The HTC First is the first HTC phone to run a stock version of Android since the G2, but nobody noticed


Seems like everybody was too busy philosophizing over Peter Chou and Mark Zuckerberg’s new “Facebook Phone” — er, HTC First — that most overlooked something much more epic with the phone: the HTC First will not only be the world’s first Android device tailored to run Facebook Home, but it’s also the first HTC device to run stock Android since the T-Mobile G2. Yup, you heard right. Not since the failed G2 have we seen HTC return to their roots and ironically, their partnership with Facebook is what made this happen.

We briefly covered the HTC First’s Android stockness after asking the Facebook rep to jump into the HTC First’s settings app in our hands-off video. I can’t really say what I was expecting (Sense perhaps?), but I can tell you I was quite surprised to find a completely stock Android Jelly Bean settings and notification pulldown, all cleverly hidden behind Facebook Home’s slick visuals. And that’s not all, the stock Android homescreen is also dormant on the device and can be activated by simply clearing by either clearing defaults Facebook Home, or disabling Facebook Home directly from its own settings.

So, what does this mean exactly? Well, I should start out by saying that when I say “stock Android,” I’m not talking about pure AOSP with direct updates from Google. Only Nexus (and for a short time, Sony) devices get those kinda privileges. What I mean by “stock” is a version of Android that simply isn’t skinned and comes with stock Android apps like messaging, camera, gallery, stock notification bar, etc., but may or may not have some of the underlying software tweaked. This is exactly what happened with the G2 back in the day which, for all intents and purposes, was running stock Android, but wasn’t running AOSP with direct updates from Google. HTC still had to build their version of stock Android and submit it to T-Mobile to look over and push out.

I just found it interesting that a device like the HTC First that most Android fans are looking over because of its close ties with Facebook is doing something they’ve been clamoring for forever now. A phone from a Android manufacturer running a UI “skin” (in this case Facebook Home launcher) that can be easily disabled by the user, and switched over to a plain Android experience. The HTC First is that device. The first device in quite sometime time making this happen and nobody really knows about it.

Of course, there will be those that ask, “Why can’t HTC do this with Sense? Just turn it into an optional launcher and be done with it?” Quite frankly, I don’t want to get into the openness of Android or the fact that it was created for manufacturers to brand and call it their own. We’ll have to save that discussion for another time. Right now, I just want to know if stock/vanilla/plain/whatever-you-wanna-call-it Android is as big a selling point as Android fanboys make it out to be? If so, is the HTC First suddenly looking a little more appealing to anyone out there?


Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. is G+ part of gapps yet? Theoretically Google could do that right? For teh lulz?

    1. thumbup souly for “For teh lulz?”

  2. Failed G2? Mine was amazing, still miss my qwerty..

    1. Exactly what I was saying. How dare he? LoL!!

      1. Failed as in sales, not greatness. Not to mention it took FOREVER for it to get Gingerbread. Overall great phone though :)

        1. Thank you. I’m satisfied now. =.P

          1. *rubs back* I’m not done yet.. O_o

    2. Amen.. G2 is the first phone that was overclocked over 100% of its stock speed.. From 800mhz to 1900mhz… I haven’t heard a phone that can do this.. yet.

      1. What..?

      2. I did that on my G1 (100% overclock, not necessarily those speeds)

  3. Stock is too plain!! Need customization!!!

    1. Lol so they down vote you because everyone is madly in love with vanilla android? But wasn’t the aim of android to be open sourced? Not to mention all the features oem’s have contributed to vanilla. Android is a win because of the openness and in turn because of the developers.

      1. Haha!! Personal preference I guess. I just like animations, transition effects, personalization..if i wanted vanilla android my phone be like everyone else I would use an iPhone.

        1. There are so few vanilla android devices that I don’t see how you could say “like everyone else”. And honestly the animations on vanilla android look so much better than the simple fade in / fade outs on TouchWiz and Sense… Well, Sense fades in and out some times, the rest of the time it just blinks because their software is glitchy.

          1. This is so bias lol. But I’ll let you have your moment

    2. If it’s stock, it’s easier to customize it yourself, how you’d like it. That’s half the point.

  4. until it can compete with the Nexus pricing, one might as well stick with a Nexus phone – hard to beat

  5. I’ll drop kick you, Chris. The HTC G2 was my fav. phone. That was a phone I was more than willing to do my full 2 years with. *feels hurt and betrayed* *tears*

    I love qwerty phones!!

    1. The phone was really nice but it didn’t exactly break any sales records. That’s all I meant. :p

      1. –Refer to my other post, LoL!!

        1. Why you guys always bustin’ my balls, man? O_o

          1. because he’s annoying.

          2. Sounded like you was bashin my G2. I can’t have that. That was my phone. LoL!!

            In a technical since, that phone was one of the few devices to have a very high clock number. It was able to be clocked at 2Ghz. Of course it crashed horribly and devs didn’t release it. But let me calm down before I start ranting. LoL!!

          3. I once clocked my G1 to 2GHz. Lol

      2. Doesn’t classify it as “failed”. “Failed” would be the ChaCha, Dell Streak, or even the G2x.

        How dare you. >…<

        1. Everyone thought the G2 was going to be the second coming of the G1, smashing the iPhone, destroying sales records and then… nothing.

          It sold, just didn’t sell as well as everyone thought it would (one of the reasons we never saw a follow up, marking the death of the QWERTY).

          1. Sorry, don’t remember it quite like that…

          2. I do. I was there, man. I lived it.

          3. Look. Yes it was eol’d rather quickly. But I believe that had more to do with how tmo was doing business. From the beginning it was like they really didn’t want the phone, they wanted to push mytouch.

            And the only thing most people who owned it complained about was the fact that when they held the damn thing upside down in bed (!) the phone would open up.

          4. That, and it didn’t receive Gingerbread as quickly as they liked. In fact, if I remember correctly, the EVO 4G got Gingerbread before the G2.

          5. The Evo came out June of 2010. The G2 in October of 2010. Evo got gb June of 2011, G2 got it July/August of 2011. Sound right?

            So what is so bad about that ? Was this the only case of people complaining about a phone not getting updated quickly enough?

            What’s going on here? What did the G2 do to you? You can tell us, it’s ok. O.o

  6. Why are you calling the G2 a failed device? It was a popular enough phone with a huge and brilliant development community featuring none other than Cyanogen, himself. I had mine forever and loved it. Still keep it around to experiment with. have it running 4.2.2 with its old processor at a roaring 1.8 GHz.

    1. Great for development because everyone thought it was the 2nd coming of the G1. Problem was, nobody bought it and it was EOL’d shortly after it was released. (Not to mention it took FOREVER for it to officially receive Gingerbread over the air).

      1. I wouldn’t call 8 months shortly after, but I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

        1. Let’s just say at that time, it was sooner than expected: http://phandroid.com/2011/06/07/t-mobile-g2-nearing-end-of-life/

        2. i’m sorry but if i bought a flagship phone with ICS n it was EOL’d before Jelly Bean then that is EXTREMELY shortly after. And i;m not one of those guys who needs 3 years of updates. I think 1.5 years is completely realistic and all that is necessary, but 8 months is not even trying.

          1. JB came out six months after ICS.

          2. ICS launched in november, Jellybean was launched in July, that’s 8 months. Even if it was only 6 months, it still takes anywhere between 4-12 months to update a phone. So either way, your phone would be EOL before they’d actually spit out an update for you.

  7. You know the Photon Q has a nice qwerty, and the interface is close to stock.

    1. It’s pretty laggy though.

  8. Nooooooooooo thanks! I dont need facebook pre-installed in my phone! I love stock android smartphones, but not FACEBOOK ONE!

    1. If you can get out of Facebook Home it could have value, but a deal breaker for me is that it doesn’t get updates like a Nexus, if people want skins fine, but give us the option to go vanilla and get fast updates. If I’m going to buy a phone and keep it for 2 years, I don’t want it to only get one or two, out of four updates in that time.

  9. Doesn’t the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 10 run Stock Android?

    1. They run stock Android as in AOSP — which is unmodified Android directly from Google.

      Anything that resembles stock Android on ANY other device technically isn’t running completely stock Android (as in AOSP), they’re running a version of it.

  10. Big of a selling point as Android fans make it out to be. Oooooh, you’re calling er’one out hahaha

  11. I was wondering. Makes sense, I mean htc sense is a resource hog, I should know with my vivid, and having the Facebook software running on that would really bog things down, and it would be pointless anyway since sense already has seamless facebook integration, and why put sense on there if no one’s going to use it? Not really more attractive to me however. It’s still weaker than the nexus 4 and priced higher no commitment wise

    1. I mean, every phone is priced higher than the Nexus 4 no commitment-wise. But this is geared towards those that don’t want to spend $300 on a phone. $100 is a lot easier to swallow.

  12. Too bad most that will get this phone will look at you like a deer staring into oncoming headlights when they hear the words “STOCK ANDROID”,shrug their shoulders,& go on about their day,or,get hit by said car as they’re glued to their “friends” on the phone……

    1. well of course…someone buys a facebook phone because of its facebook integration, and you would expect them to jump out of their skin because you can turn all the facebook crap off? If they didn’t want it on, they would’ve bought something else…

      1. True.Besides,this was probably a practical decision as well,as the phone probably couldn’t handle running two skins simultaneously.

      2. But perhaps it will attract a totally different dimension of people as well. Those who love HTC phones but want stock Android (without Facebook Home).

        1. only if said htc phone had hardware superior to that of the nexus 4

  13. Att keeps growing and now I hear Sovalei which is T-Mobile.

  14. Umm… Nexus One….

    1. I know it was a long time ago but the G2 came out AFTER the Nexus One.

      1. a lot of smart ones in the comment section today, Chris.

      2. Ahh… Thanks for the clarity…. Saw G2, thought G1…

  15. Am i only one still rockin the G2?


    1. How’s that thing holding up?

    2. I would be, had I not traded for a Sensation.

      There are days I debate looking for a used or NOS G2…

    3. Still using my G2. Works a treat.

  16. Guessing Facebook wanted to invest time porting their software to Android and NOT
    Android + Sense and that also, every time Android updates, not having to factor in additional complexity from Sense.. so it make sense.. no sense.. just stock Android.

  17. I just got a First in the mail today – was able to play with it a bit and I would say it sure is different, but I’m not a huge FB user – I took Home off and have been playing in Vanilla – its very nice, clean and smooth – I forgot how much I liked it, but theres a few things I might miss

  18. WTF?!?

    Hecho en china?

  19. Has stock Android…
    Actually, the HTC First is a good handset if I could banish every trace of FaceFook from it.

    1. And add hardware from the past 12 months…

      1. this is the first phone with the snapdragon 400. And it beats the galaxy s3 in pretty much every benchmark.

  20. I noticed that since the first image leaked for the phone…

  21. Lot a of people want a smaller screen running stock Android, so to me this looks like the phone many people have been asking for.

  22. how about the g2x? that was running stock android

  23. The G2 should’ve done way better.. It was decent..

  24. I asked this question the other day on another Android site whether it was skinned or not. I’m very satisfied that it isn’t or this mid rage device might not have performed so well.

  25. #1 Are you sure that Facebook Home can be turned off on the First? Obviously it can be turned off if you downloaded it from the Play Store, but i’m not so certain with the First? #2 Android lovers are overlooking this phone because the hardware is garbage. Pair garbage specs with a stupid gimmick like Facebook Home and you get the HTC First, which I seriously doubt will sell to anyone.

    1. yes, go to the apps settings menu and select facebook home and hit disable. Facebook home is off.

  26. why would anybody care about the phone running stock android? It’s already terrible with facebook on it. Having stock android isn’t going to make it better….. In my opinion

  27. rate HTC First’s lock screen? like does it turn off when you press the button?

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