Equipped with a QWERTY keyboard and a dedicated Facebook button, how good is the HTC ChaCha at social networking?
Look and feel
The HTC ChaCha feels like a fusion of Android and BlackBerry sensibilities. The phone’s design is focused on its QWERTY keyboard, which is pretty comprehensive.
The buttons are slim, however, I never had any problems typing, as they’re raised and spaced out enough to prevent too many errors. Its Facebook button is beneath the full keyboard, with the Facebook logo attached.
The ChaCha’s design mixes aluminium and white plastic, giving it a distinctive look. It has a 480 x 320 resolution 2.6-inch touchscreen display, with the home, menu, back and search buttons underneath the screen.
The phone sacrifices a large screen for its keyboard, which presents a few challenges for the interface.
It runs on Android 2.3 and HTC has adjusted its Sense skin to cater for the 2.6-inch screen.
The ChaCha supports up to seven home screens with smaller widgets to cater for the screen size. The apps menu places icons for all apps and most frequently visited apps to the right to provide more space.
Of course, most Android apps are designed as a portrait view as opposed to landscape, so viewing many apps primarily made for a typical Android phone will have to be viewed sideways on this device.
Using the internet is a bit easier, as many PC monitors are designed for the same proportioned screen as the ChaCha, though expect to zoom in a lot to read text.
The biggest feature HTC is pushing is the Facebook button, a context aware button for uploading content onto Facebook quickly.
If you take a picture, press the Facebook button and you can upload it to any one of your Facebook folders. You can also set who can view the photo and you can tag the photo. Videos work similarly, letting you tag them and adjust the privacy settings.
Pressing it on a website lets you share the link on Facebook. Pressing it on a song within the music app lets you share the song. You can check into locations, too, using the button.
Whenever you’re on a screen where there is nothing to share (for example, the home screen), the Facebook button lets you update your status by pressing it.
Other Facebook features include a Facebook chat app for talking to your contacts. You can also set a chat widget to one of your home screens.
The HTC ChaCha has a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a VGA camera at the front. For video, it can film up to a 720p resolution.
The quality of the camera isn’t fantastic – I found the colouring was a bit off when taking photos.
You can add filters, such as grayscale and sepia, adjust the exposure and contrast, change the screen resolution and set facial detection and geotagging.
This phone definitely won’t be for everyone, mostly thanks to the small screen. Those who love watching and recording movies won’t get a lot out of the screen size and others might find it awkward for viewing apps designed for phones with a longer screen.
However, the phone is great for heavy-duty texting and social networking. In my book, physical keyboards win out over touchscreen keyboards any day for typing (though Swype comes close), so this could be a perfect smartphone for people who love to text and chat. The Facebook button is a bonus for social networking addicts.
It almost feels like a good transition phone for BlackBerry fans curious about the Android OS, which could be a good market to aim for considering BlackBerry’s current struggles.
The HTC ChaCha is out now from free. It will be available exclusively from O2 before moving to eMobile, Vodafone, 3 and Meteor at the end of the month.
View a video review of the HTC ChaCha here:
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