The HTC Status (known abroad as the ChaCha) has opened for AT&T pre-orders, with in-store stock set for July 17th. On the surface, it looks like a great mid-tier option for featurephoners dallying with the thought of hopping on the Android bandwagon. But it turns out that it could actually be big with another market — BlackBerry-toting business users looking to switch.

Why? Well, just look at it: Comparisons to BlackBerry were bound to happen. The Status features a pocketable candybar form factor, with a very respectable hardware QWERTY keyboard set below a petite 2.6-inch widescreen display. Although the OS may be quite different, it offers a familiar feel that BB users can take comfort in, to prevent total culture shock from happening.

Our own Jon Rettinger offered some thoughts on the phone in advance of its NYC press unveiling tonight, and he concurs: "It's running Android 2.3, permanent portrait orientation, big keyboard. Could be great for a business user; almost a substitute for a BlackBerry."

While certainly not the first non-RIM handset to feature such looks — not even the first Android phone (*cough*, Samsung Galaxy Pro, *cough*) — the Status offers some pretty sleek styling and the always-elegant Sense interface. And that dedicated Facebook button gives it away as a device built around social networking, with multiple features for fast updates, check-ins, sharing and feed info. That, plus its highly portable size, could make it very popular among hyper-connected pros. (The device's affordable $50 price tag could also be really attractive for budget-conscious entrepreneurs.)

What do you think? If you had a choice of work phone, would the Status' hardware keyboard, pocketability and social features win you over? Or would you stick with a highly spec'ed, big screen handset?

If you can't decide right now, keep your eyes on TechnoBuffalo for more HTC Status impressions from Jon, who'll be on the ground at the unveiling tonight. In the mean time, here a run-through of major specs:

HTC Status Specs

  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • Sense UI
  • 2.6″ capacitive touchscreen (480 x 320 res)
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900
  • 512 MB RAM / 512 MB ROM
  • MicroSD expansion (up to 32 GB)
  • 800 MHz CPU (MSM7227)
  • 1250 mAh li-ion battery
  • Dual cameras: 5 MP rear with autofocus and flash, VGA front cam