First seen at MWC 2011 in February, the pair of HTC's Facebook phones were announced after months of speculation that both companies were collaborating on a Facebook-centric phone. Besides the HTC ChaCha receiving a boost in processor speed from 600MHz to 800MHz, everything else remained the same. With Facebook being the most visited site on mobile devices locally, HTC might have a pair of winners on its hand.
SingTel launched the HTC ChaCha in an exclusive event this morning at Swissotel, the Stamford. While the HTC ChaCha will be exclusive to SingTel, the HTC Salsa will be available through all mobile operators. Interestingly, Singapore is the first country in the Asia Pacific region to introduce the pair of Facebook-centric phones. Check out our coverage below:
HTC is the first mobile phone manufacturer to feature a dedicated Facebook button on its smartphones, the HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa. The button, which is found at the bottom right of the devices, gives you one-touch access to many functions of Facebook. It is smart enough to alert you with a gentle pulsing light whenever there is an opportunity for you to share content on Facebook. It also doubles as a shutter button in camera mode, allowing you to take snapshots and upload on Facebook instantly. Here are some examples of what you can do with the Facebook button:
Besides having the dedicated Facebook button, the user interface on the HTC ChaCha is optimized for use on Facebook. For example, the Facebook Chat widget lets you see who among your friends are currently online. In addition, there is a sidebar on the right when you are browsing Facebook, giving you easy access to the more commonly used tabs such as Notifications and Photos.
With the Facebook functionality common to the two new phones detailed above, it's time to take a closer look at each of the phones. First up, is the HTC ChaCha, which adopts a friendly form factor for messaging junkies. With a four-row QWERTY keyboard and a generous 2.6-inch display, you will be churning out messages faster without much hassle. HTC claims that the QWERTY keyboard on the HTC ChaCha is 10% more spacious than its competitors in the market. The keys are slightly spaced apart for a more comfortable typing experience. There are also two shortcut keys ( R to reply, C to compose). which will speed up your messaging. It may not look aesthetically pleasing, but at least it's designed for functionality and usability to boost your productivity.
The HTC ChaCha has an a unique tilt design that shapes the screen and QWERTY keyboard so that it is comfortable to view and hold over extended periods of time. Despite having a physical QWERTY keyboard, the HTC ChaCha manages to maintain a sleek profile of 10.7mm thin.
Software wise, the HTC ChaCha runs on the latest Android 2.3.3 version with a different HTC Sense (codenamed 2.1 for Messenger). The new Sense interface is geared more towards a landscape orientation.
The HTC ChaCha comes pre-installed with SingTel's AMPed music service, MobileTV video streaming service and MySingTel app, which allows you to view your SingTel bills, manage your mobile services, data usage and subscribe to overseas data roaming on the go. The phone is currently available exclusively from SingTel for S$0 with 3G Flexi AMPed plans and selected iPlans. Customers who pre-ordered this handset from 14 June 2011 via www.singtel.shop.com/chacha will receive a 4GB Android thumbdrive upon purchase (while stocks last).
The HTC Salsa is almost similar to HTC ChaCha except that it has a larger 3.4-inch display for a full touchscreen experience. Without a QWERTY keyboard, you are able to view and do more things on its 3.4-inch screen. The HTC Salsa also runs on the latest Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread and has the dedicated Facebook button. It will be available in June 2011 through all mobile operators and authorized retailers at S$568 without contract. The HTC Salsa comes only in blue at the moment.