Facebook on the verge of announcing HTC smartphone?

A cryptic media invite to see the social network's "Home on Android" gets the rumor mill running anew about an upcoming Facebook phone.

The HTC Cha Cha was the first so-called "Facebook phone." HTC

Rumors of a Facebook phone have been flying around for years. But has the time come for that chatter to become reality?

Word has it that the social network may be making the big announcement at an upcoming press event next week. Facebook sent out invites today asking members of the media to "Come See Our New Home on Android" on April 4. If history is any gauge, Facebook announcements with invites like this tend to be grand in scope, such as Graph Search and the News Feed redesign .

Facebook has reportedly been working on an advertising campaign with HTC the past few weeks, according to 9to5Google. This seems to indicate that the social network may be partnering with HTC to possibly design the hardware of a smartphone.

People familiar with the matter told 9to5Google that the ads focus on the device's potential users, rather than specific hardware or software. Apparently, a catch phrase for the possible smartphone is "more than just an app."

According to TechCrunch, sources familiar with the matter have said that the social network plans to debut an HTC smartphone that runs a modified version of Android's OS and uses built-in native Facebook functionality. A device like this would most likely rely on Facebook's apps, such as Messenger, and let users easily share from other apps.

Earlier this month, freshly leaked details for an upcoming HTC Myst seemed to be in line with such Facebook phone rumors. Hardware details for the device apparently include a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. Additionally, the handset could feature a 4.3-inch display, touch screen, a 5-megapixel rear camera, and a 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera.

In 2011, HTC unveiled two "Facebook phones" that featured dedicated buttons for easy access to the social-networking site. The HTC ChaCha and the HTC Salsa each had a Facebook button on the bottom, which when pressed let users update their status, upload photos, check into places, share news articles, and more. However, both of these phones seem to have flopped.

Despite the rumor mill running amok for the umpteenth time regarding a Facebook phone, all chatter is still speculation at this point. The smartphone market is tough to crack and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has continually denied that he is getting into the phone business. Who knows, it's possible that the upcoming press event could just be about enhanced app features on Android.

When contacted by CNET a Facebook spokesperson said the company isn't sharing any further details about the event at this time.

Updated March 29 at 10:15 a.m. PT with comment from Facebook spokesperson.

 

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