One, two, cha cha cha, three four, cha cha cha, HTC, ChaCha [Cha]. Doesn't it make you want to jump to the Facebook beat? No? Oh well, never mind. Whether they make you want to update your status or roll your eyes, Latin dances have inspired the names of both of HTC's new social phones with Facebook buttons, hoping to draw some excitement and buzz from the vivacious Latin culture into these sociable smartphones. With our review of the Salsa being less than spicy, largely thanks to the price, with similar specs and a physical QWERTY, all at a lower price-point, we're hopeful the HTC ChaCha's the Facebook phone with all the right moves.
The HTC ChaCha's price is lower than the one of the HTC Salsa, and its build is accordingly mid-range as a result. It does still feel well put together with no squeaking, creaking or cracking in sight. The screen's small at 2.6 inches, though the full sized QWERTY kind of makes up for it. The blue, white and silver colour scheme won’t be for everyone, but feels quite young, 'Facebooky' and cohesive. With an odd bend in the centre of the phone where the screen meets QWERTY, the HTC ChaCha sits in the hand well, and when face down on a surface, neither screen or keyboard make contact with it preventing wear and tear.
HTC's ChaCha is blessed with just 2.6 inches of landscape screen. Fortunately for this smartphone however, size isn't everything, with its HVGA resolution (480x320) delivering a very good level of detail, leaving its main Android competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Pro two steps behind. You can also expect good viewing angles and some responsive interaction, which is great. Sadly, with the reformatted landscape Sense UI and tiny screen, much of the type is too small for comfortable reading, so might not be ideal for those with visual impairments.
In stark contrast to the slew of candybar phones taking a minimalist approach to physical keys, the HTC ChaCha has 46, not to mention the four capacitive buttons located under the screen. The majority of these physical keys can be found on the four tiered QWERTY, each key isolated and curvaceous with a pearly feel. Above the QWERTY lies a call and an end button while the Facebook button sits at the lower right hand side of the phone’s front. Side step to the left side of the HTC ChaCha for the volume rocker and microUSB port, while up top is a power button and headphone jack. Flip the phone over to get to the 5MP camera, LED flash and loud-speaker, not to mention a stylized thick silver band that adds a little visual zing. The QWERTY itself is a treat to use, with keys being easy to identify and press not to mention a good degree of click feedback.
Interface and Functionality
With HTC Sense 2.1 re-oriented for the landscape screen, the HTC ChaCha contains a host of device specific peculiarities. Starting with the positive, the lock screen borrows from HTC Sense 3.0, as you can set four shortcuts to access directly from it, though no live updates run in the background. Now onto the not so good: for starters, there's no pull down quick settings functionality in the notifications tab, just the standard Android notifications. On top of that, you can only access your apps drawer from one out of the possible 7 homescreens. So if you are on screen five for example, you would need to return to screen one to do so. Alternatively, you can access it through the menu button, but this is still a two click process which we feel should have just been one. Otherwise, the landscape oriented Sense UI operates predictably, with the standard HTC Sense widgets on board which add considerable functionality to the Android experience.
The HTC ChaCha's Facebook integration transpires in the form of the Facebook button and the chat app. When the button is pressed, it interacts with whatever's going on in the background, and pushes it to Facebook. From the homescreen, short press it to update your wall, long press to update your location using Facebook places. In the music app, you can share the track you're listening to straight to your profile with a single click, while in the gallery app, you can send images straight to your wall. The button also acts as a 'Facebook shutter release' for the on-board camera, focusing, shooting and uploading in a single step. One element that stands out about the Facebook integration is the ease with which contacts can be tagged in images, though most other aspects do manage to feel gimmicky.
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