With Google and Samsung’s partnership on the Nexus line of devices taking up most of the search giant’s time, former handset partner HTC is apparently working with Facebook on a brand new smartphone, according to a Digitimes report citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Rumors of a Facebook phone first resurfaced back in November. The device was loosely being referred to as the “Buffy” phone, which would run a heavily modified version of Android featuring support for apps developed in HTML5. The device was also rumored to be due out in 18 months. If true, today’s report by Digitimes would mean that the phone is ahead of schedule, with a retail launch date during the third quarter of 2012.

There are a few reasons why this news would make sense for both Facebook and HTC. First of all HTC previously launched two Facebook-enabled handsets, the Salsa and Chacha, so it’s definitely proven it has the vision to develop a true “Facebook Phone.”

Another big reason this partnership might actually happen has to do with the Facebook’s huge mobile risk as it prepares to make an initial public offering. Even if they phone sucks, it would probably still sell pretty well, and it would give Facebook some concrete footing when it comes to its ability to generate revenue on mobile devices.

Image via Gizmodo

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