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Facebook phone: HTC ‘First’ smartphone announced for AT

HTC announced a new smartphone called the “First” Thursday that has been optimized for Facebook Home, a new interface for the Android operating system.

The Taiwanese phone maker said the HTC First is the “ultimate social phone.” The device was designed specifically for Facebook Home, a smartphone Facebook-centric interface also announced Thursday.

The HTC First will be available from AT&T; for $99.99 - pre-orders will be taken as of today on the carrier’s website. It will go on sale in stores April 12 to coincide with the launch of Facebook Home.

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You don’t need the new Facebook phone to use the Home interface. Users of the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III, the Galaxy Note 2 and the upcoming HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4 will be able to download it for free from Google Play.

While it was expected that HTC would announce a “Facebook phone,” the timing of the device’s release is a bit of a surprise. HTC already is set to begin selling another major smartphone, its HTC One, on April 19.

At $200, the HTC One will be twice the price of the HTC First.

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HTC may simply be choosing to sell two major phones around the same time to give consumers more options over rival Samsung’s Galaxy S 4. That phone will go on sale later this month as the follow-up to 2012’s incredibly popular Galaxy S III.

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