HTC ChaCha - Dancing with Facebook

Launch SRP: S$438

Features

Gingerbread with HTC Sense 2.1 and Facebook

Do not belittle the HTC ChaCha. It is actually one of the more powerful smartphones out there in terms of software integration. The ChaCha runs on the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS with HTC's very own Sense user interface. According to HTC, the Sense interface (codenamed 2.1 for Messenger) is optimized for use in the landscape screen of the ChaCha. 

In terms of software, the HTC ChaCha is among the top with the Android 2.3 OS and intuitive HTC Sense user interface.

The HTC Sense 2.1 for Messenger is quite different from the HTC Sense 2.0. It takes a leaf off Sense 3.0 by featuring the new lock screen, where you can drag an app into the circle to unlock the screen and open the app simultaneously. There are only four devices at the moment which has this new lock screen: HTC Flyer, HTC Sensation, HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa. For detailed description on how the new lock screen works and looks different from HTC Sense 2.0, you can check here.

The HTC ChaCha is one of the four HTC devices which come with the new lock screen at the moment.

HTC Sense 2.1 for Messenger still retains the familiar overview feature where you can see all seven home screen panels.

To accommodate the smaller 2.6-inch landscape screen, HTC tweaked the Sense interface on the ChaCha. For example, the home screen takes on a new look where three apps are arranged vertically on each side, with the clock taking the center focus and social feed widgets situated just below it. While some changes are necessary to maximize the available screen estate, some apps look unusual on the ChaCha, forcing you to switch between portrait and landscape mode. 

Due to the small display of the HTC ChaCha, the screen looks very crowded.

To make better use of the available screen, the menu bar is relocated from the bottom to the right side of the screen.

The Android Market interface sees a slight rearrangement of the Featured section to the side.

Take the Books app for example, The main screen of the Books app requires you to view it in landscape mode.

However, when you open an eBook to read, the page is orientated to portrait. Hence you have to switch orientation of the phone to read, which looks weird.


Facebook in a Button 

Of course, the main highlight of the HTC ChaCha is its dedicated Facebook button. The button allows you to update your status, upload photos, "check-in" to locations, share the music titles you are listening with a single press. It is also context-aware, giving off gentle pulses of light whenever there is an opportunity to share content or updates on Facebook. The button basically eliminates the need to go through several layers of menu to accomplish the same tasks.

We particularly like the light pulsing from the Facebook button. It makes the HTC ChaCha seem as though it's almost alive.

 

To "check-in" to a location, you just have to press and hold the Facebook button.

If you are listening to a nice song that you want to share with your friends on Facebook, just press the Facebook button and the song information is available for sharing.

A useful feature of the Facebook button is that it doubles as a shutter button when taking pictures. It will lead you directly to the upload menu where you can select which album to upload, add tags, descriptions and set the privacy settings for access to the album

For Facebook addicts, the button allows you to instantly post an status update with a single press.

HTC has thoughtfully included a Facebook Chat widget on the ChaCha. On the widget itself, you can see if anyone is online and available for chat. Tap on their names and start an instant live chat. 

The Facebook Chat widget has a similar interface to the browser variant of Facebook Chat, allowing you to view contacts who are online and/or offline.

 On the left, you will see the standard Facebook Chat interface of the Facebook app that is available on Android devices. On the right is the HTC ChaCha's Facebook Chat interface which resembles many third party messengers out there.

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