First Looks: INQ Chat 3G

A 'Social-lite' Phone

A 'Social-lite' Phone

The inception of social media has revolutionized communication drastically; not only has it infiltrated our surfing habits, but most importantly, changed the way we utilize our phones. To cater to our growing on-the-go social media needs, many mobile devices nowadays come pre-installed with apps supporting popular networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The INQ Chat 3G is built firmly around these apps.

Black and Red Combo

Design-wise, the INQ Chat 3G looks remotely like the Blackberry Curve or the Nokia E71, but with more visual 'oomph'. The keypad is a nice blend of glossy black and red, lending the phone a certain old-school charm despite its chiefly plastic body. The main attraction here is the QWERTY keypad. The buttons are laid out nicely, comfortable to press and exhibit good tactile feedback. Nonetheless, we wished that they were a tad bigger and wider to accommodate the heavy typing involved when using Twitter and Facebook apps.

Like the HTC Tattoo, the INQ Chat 3G features a degree of customization: the back cover can be interchanged with a selection of vividly colored covers that are sold separately (and unfortuately, not available locally). Though we don't usually touch on the un-boxing experience, points to INQ for shipping the device in a rather unique and funky box.

Features and Performance

The integration of social networking tools is apparent throughout the phone, and you will find your inboxes for Facebook messages, pokes, invites, Twitter replies and emails integrated within a single messaging inbox interface. Once logged in, users are automatically connected to both applications for regular updates and they can choose the associated widgets to be displayed on the home screen for easy accessibility and notifications.

The main issue that might deter a social media junkie from the Chat 3G is the prevalent lag in browsing as well as the device's outdated screen display resolution. The former happens more often than we liked, and gets worse when there are more apps in the background, like running the music player or when there are multiple incoming updates from your social media accounts. The latter is more of an aesthetic issue: fonts look mildly pixelated and pictures did not look as sharp and crisp.

Another disappointment is the mini-USB headphone jack that's not compatible with 3.5mm headphones. This meant that we had to contend with the given headset. Fortunately, audio was relatively good, although we couldn't say the same for its video recording and viewing capabilities due to its small and fairly outdated screen resolution. The camera is not particularly interesting and it performed decently under lighting. The images however can be easily published on Twitter or Facebook with a click of a button.

Final Thoughts

The INQ Chat 3G is perfect for those who are on a tight budget or prefer a streamlined phone for social networking needs, minus the unnecessary frills. We presume that INQ is looking to target students or teenagers (given the colorful menu and packaging) but for the rest of us who prefer to have a more fully featured phone, it's better to look elsewhere.