It looks like HTC’s new "Facebook Phone," the First, runs stock Android. Phandroid reports that the unadorned OS is lurking just beneath the surface, accessible either by resetting the default launcher or by disabling the Facebook Home app from its own settings. While the fact hasn’t been confirmed by HTC itself, this would make the new phone the company's first to run an un-skinned version of the OS since 2010’s T-Mobile G2.
On a page titled "Answering Your Questions on Home and Privacy," Facebook tells us that Home can be turned off, but it doesn’t make any mention of what our other choices are. When we spoke with HTC’s Chief Product Officer, Kouji Kodera, late last year, he told us that the company is "very proud of HTC Sense," the name of its oft-maligned skin and custom software experience. Kodera added that HTC would "like to continue shipping it on every device," so the news of an un-skinned OS on the First definitely comes as a surprise.
It’s worth pointing out that a phone running more-or-less unmodified Android isn’t the same as a Nexus phone — only the latter gets updates directly from Google. But the idea that there’s a new low-priced HTC phone on the horizon without Sense could make a whole other class of prospective buyers sit up and take notice.
Update: HTC has confirmed to us that the First runs stock Android if Facebook Home is turned off.