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Event Coverage
HTC's New Facebook Phones - HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa have Arrived
By Sidney Wong - 14 Jun 2011,6:04pm

HTC's New Facebook Phones - HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa

HTC "Likes" Facebook

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:

Loren Shuster, Vice President of SingTel Consumer Marketing (centre), and Lennard Hoornik, President of HTC South Asia Pacific (right), were present to launch the HTC ChaCha.

SingTel is the first mobile operator in Asia Pacific to introduce the HTC ChaCha.

Power of Facebook in One Button

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:

The Facebook button lights up whenever there is an opportunity to share content on the social networking site.

You can update your Facebook status from almost any screen by pressing the dedicated button except when you are using the camera or browsing a website.

Tired of going through the hassle of activating GPS or layers of menu to check in on Facebook? The Facebook button makes it a lot easier by automatically detecting your location. All you need to do is press and hold the Facebook button.

Besides sharing the URL of a website via the Facebook button, you can also choose a particular portion to post on your wall.

For sharing photos, you can choose which Facebook album you can upload your photos to.

We particularly like this feature of multiple uploads. It is easier to upload in bulk.  

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.

The Facebook Chat is fully integrated with the HTC ChaCha. The interface is almost similar to other instant messaging apps.

You have access to commonly used functions of Facebook via the sidebar.

HTC ChaCha Details

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.

During our hands-on with the HTC ChaCha, the keyboard really impressed us. Buttons are raised and big enough for a smooth typing experience.

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.  

The HTC ChaCha is only 10.7mm thick. This is impressive despite it having a physical QWERTY keyboard. That aside, notice the unique tilted design of the keyboard that is supposed to enhance screen visibility while messaging on the phone.

The back of the HTC ChaCha looks very similar to the HTC Flyer. The similarity does not end there. Like the HTC Flyer, the ChaCha has an ergonomic design. This makes it very comfortable to hold.

The HTC ChaCha has a 3.5mm audio jack, allowing you to plug in your own earphones. Speaking of which, you can even share your favorite tracks that you are listening to via the Facebook button.

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. 

Besides having the latest Android OS, the HTC ChaCha has a different version of HTC Sense, codenamed 2.1 for Messenger.

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 ChaCha is available in three colors: modern white, amethyst purple and phantom black.

HTC Salsa Availability

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.

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