HTC ChaCha - Dancing with Facebook

Launch SRP: S$438

Overview and Design

HTC Adds Facebook Integration

While other manufacturers stay contended with running third party Facebook apps on their mobile phones, HTC decided to take one step further by collaborating with Facebook on the next generation of smartphones that are specially built for social networking on the move. The joint development process resulted in the unveiling of HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa, which are the first devices in the world to feature a dedicated Facebook button. We had our first preview of the HTC ChaCha during our hands-on at MWC 2011. Fast forward to present day, the HTC ChaCha arrived on our shores two weeks ago through an official launch event with HTC and SingTel. Not only are we proud that Singapore is the first in the Asia Pacific region to receive the phone, we were also glad to spend some intimate time with the HTC ChaCha over the last week for our full review today.

The HTC ChaCha is one of the two HTC phones that feature a dedicated Facebook button.

The first thing that caught our eyes is its unique tilt design that reminded us of the HTC Hero. Face-front, the center of the body seems to sunk in a little. According to HTC, this design shapes the display and physical QWERTY keyboard so that it is easy to view and comfortable to type. During our time with the ChaCha, we found the viewing experience to be a tad better as the screen seemed to be raised higher and tilted towards our eyes for a clearer view. 

Notice the slight bend towards the middle of the ChaCha. It is designed to enhance the viewing and typing experience.

The body of the HTC ChaCha is made up of a combination of metal and plastic, which not only gives the device a sturdy look, it also makes it feel comfortable in your hands. In comparison with the BlackBerry Bold 9780, the HTC ChaCha is slimmer at 10.7mm but wider by a slight margin to accommodate the full QWERTY keyboard.

Pictured here are the upcoming BlackBerry Bold 9900 (left), HTC ChaCha (center) and BlackBerry Bold 9780. You can see that the buttons on the HTC ChaCha are indeed spaced wider than those on the BlackBerry phones.

The HTC ChaCha features a four-row keyboard with sufficient spacing in between keys. HTC claims that the QWERTY keyboard found on the ChaCha is 10% more spacious than its competitors. During our time with the device, we found the company's claims to be true. Besides having just the right amount of travel, the keys also provide reasonable tactile feedback. However, the keys give off a "clicky" sound whenever you press them, which can be rather annoying in quiet environments. The keyboard also has a directional pad at the bottom right. We wonder if it will be ever used since navigation of the user interface can be done faster using touchscreen. Below the directional pad is the dedicated Facebook button, which we will cover in more details in our next section.

We find the QWERTY keyboard on the HTC ChaCha to be one of the best out there in the market, albeit a tad 'noisy'.

While the keyboard is sufficiently wide enough for comfortable typing, the display suffers from the lack of screen estate. Even though phones of this form factor usually comes with smaller screen sizes, we would have preferred if HTC bumps up the 2.6-inch screen size of the ChaCha. We have seen Motorola achieve this with their Motorola PRO and we think that users will appreciate a larger screen size as there is more room to work with. Nevertheless, HTC knows of this shortcoming and has made necessary alterations to the user interface to fit the landscape screen. 

Located below the screen is a row of four touch-sensitive controls (Home, Menu, Back and Search) At the top right corner of the screen, you will find the VGA front camera for video chat purposes.

On the left side of the ChaCha, you will find the microUSB port and the volume controls. The volume controls are sufficiently raised above the body for easy pressing. On the crown of the device, as expected, you'll find the Power button and 3.5mm audio jack.

Left handers, watch out. The location of the microUSB port means that the USB cable will get in your way when messaging and charging at the same time.

Though the Power button is small, it is raised slightly above the body for easy access.

The back of the HTC ChaCHa consists of the speaker, the 5-megapixel camera and LED flash. Also, it seems to be becoming a standard feature of all HTC devices to have the center of their backs inscribed with the HTC brand name.

Similar to the HTC devices we reviewed recently, the HTC brand name is inscribed on the back of the ChaCha.

You can find the speaker, 5-megapixel camera and LED flash at the top rear section of of the HTC ChaCha.

You have to slide out the bottom white cover to access the battery, microSD memory card and SIM card slot.

8.0
Design
8
Features
8
User-Friendliness
8
Performance
7
Value
7.5
The Good
Useful Facebook button
Good keyboard design and layout
Runs on Android 2.3
The Bad
Poor battery life
Small screen
Subpar imaging quality