Alternate Reality

The Facebook Phone Is Real — And We Have One!

We got our hands on an early prototype of Facebook’s upcoming 4G phone — and it will blow Apple’s iPhone and Android handsets away. Meet the new ‘face-fone.’

By (@tynanwrites)

September 20, 2010

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

Facebook is not working on a phone. Facebook is not working on a phone. Facebook is not working on a phone.

That’s the official word from Facebook’s PR machine, responding to reports of a Facebook Phone that first surfaced on TechCrunch this weekend and then skittered across the Webosphere.

From this we can only conclude one thing: Facebook is indeed working on a phone. Because why else would they deny it if it wasn’t true?

Yet many questions about the Facebook Phone remain. Like: Who will build the Facebook Phone? What features will the Facebook Phone have? Where will the Facebook Phone will be sold? When will Facebook make the Facebook Phone available? Why is Facebook bothering to make a Facebook Phone? And, of course, How many times can we use the phrase "Facebook Phone" in one paragraph without driving our readers completely insane?

(Sorry about that, but we understand Google just eats this shit up. Yes, we are SEO gods, thank you very much.)

We can definitively answer some of those questions. Because — YES! — eSarcasm has obtained an early prototype of a device we believe to be the Facebook phone — or face-fone ™, as we believe it will be known.

The face-fone came into our possession via a third party who shall remain nameless, barring a court order. It was apparently left in a public restroom at a Greyhound bus station in East Palo Alto by an unwitting Facebook engineer. What he was doing at the time to cause it to fall out of his pocket we are not at liberty to discuss. Trust us, you don’t want to know.

Getting our hands on this sucker wasn’t easy. We had to Indian leg wrestle the guys from Boy Genius Report for it (and those dickheads bite — literally.) But here it is:


The highlights:

* The face-fone will feature both a 4-inch capacitative touchscreen and a slide-out keypad available in several languages. We have to say the touchscreen was largely unresponsive and felt a bit plasticky. We’re confident these problems will be fixed by the time the phone goes into production.

* Like the iPhone 4, the face-fone will sport an external antenna. To avoid connection interruptions caused by human sweat, Facebook will distribute moisture-absorbing terrycloth bumpers to any customers who ask. 

* A front-facing video camera will allow for video calls, a feature Facebook is tentatively calling FacebookTime, at least until Apple sues their collective ass. We’re not sure yet if all phones will come with the camera embedded inside a creepy image of Mark Zuckerberg or if you’ll be able to customize this feature.

* Not surprisingly, the phone is designed for a world in which "sharing is the social norm." Not only will you be able to scroll through your friends list and call people by tapping a button, Facebook will also record who you called, what you said, and what you were wearing at the time. This information will only be shared with law enforcement agencies and carefully selected advertisers.

We also tried to take the face-fone apart and do a tear down photo slide show like all the really geeky Web sites do. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well. Maybe next time.

Stay tuned for further updates as this story develops or until even juicier rumors come along.

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