The HTC First is going to be best-known as the pilot "Facebook Phone," shipping with the all-new Facebook Home software running in lieu of a traditional Android phone skin. That would be enough to make it notable, but the First has a couple of other things going for it, things that lots of people have been waiting for in an Android phone. First (and before we go any further, let's just put it on the table that "First" is a ridiculous name), HTC is finally zigging into a smaller screen size while the rest of the Android ecosystem is zagging into ever larger form factors. Second, beneath that Facebook launcher lurks a pure version of Android that's virtually unadulterated by manufacturer and carrier software.

A year ago, a phone debuting at $99.99 on-contract was virtually guaranteed to be a clunker. Over that past year we've also watch screen sizes increase and any Android phone that didn't sport a ginormous screen was also likely to be given sub-par components. The phrase "mid-range Android phone" was basically a death-knell.

So HTC's First could be a first of a different sort, the first normal-sized Android phone that's not underpowered (and I promise this is the last time in this review I'll take advantage of that particular pun). Is it possible to build a "mid-range Android phone" that's actually just as compelling as flagships like the HTC One or Galaxy S4?