The best social networking phones in school

Everyone likes a chat but some people are just hopelessly glued to social networks. You know who you are. Don't worry. There's no shame here.

So, for those for whom an phone just won't do unless you can update a whole palate of status changes at the touch a single, built-in, hard wired, all integrated button, these are the handsets you should be looking for.

 

Motorola DEXT/CLIQ

Cost
from £25/month
Native networks
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo, Gmail, Last.fm, Photobucket, Picasa

Were it not for the Microsoft and Nokia getting in on the action, the Motorola DEXT would probably be the social networking phone of the moment. Most of that is down to the MotoBlur custom UI that sits on top of the Android build. The home screen has large customisable widgets, but on it you can have quite in depth access to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Bebo.

The contacts book goes even further and pulls in all the updates on all channels from all of your friends via the Happenings app, which is at the heart of this UI. You can poke, write on people's walls and, when you place a call, it brings up your contact's current status - either an instant ice-breaker or a topic of conversation for you to avoid. Naturally, you can filter the social noise down with a well placed series of tabs but probably one of the nicest feature is that you can update the four listed social networks with the same status message at the touch of a single button. It'll also do direct photo uploads to  Facebook, MySpace, Picasa and Photobucket.

The handset it self is both touch and QWERTY-enabled. It has a decent 3.1-inch screen to play with and a 5-megapixel camera too. The good news for those that are a fan is that the upcoming Motorola Backflip is going to have MotoBlur at the helm as well.

 

INQ Chat 3G

Cost
from £10/month
Native networks
Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, MSN Messenger, Skype

INQ has made a name for itself on the social networking scene and the INQ Chat 3G is probably the best of the small bunch. Built like a BlackBerry, the QWERTY keyboard is on display at all times underneath the 2.4-inch screen and around the other side to the 3.2-megapixel camera but the difference between something like this an the DEXT is that it's actually affordable to people that aren't prepared to spend their life savings each month on a phone.

By the same token, it means it's not an "app phone" as such with some kind of sexy OS under the hood. It's a proprietary system but it does offer home screen apps to Facebook, MSN messenger, Gmail and Twitter - all of which are integrated very nicely indeed. Best of all, being associated with 3 and proud, there's also Skype. You get free Skype to Skype calls on your mobile to wherever you like over 3G or WiFi which isn't something you can say of some of the big boy smart phones out there.

If the INQ Chat 3G is still too much for you wallet, then there's always the slim down candybar version known as the INQ Mini 3G - all the same good stuff but, sadly, no QWERTY.

 

Nokia C6

Cost
€220
Native networks
Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and maybe more

It's not out until June but the hot off the press Nokia C6 is one of three social network designed phones. It's got a 3.2-inch touchscreen with full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 5-megapixel camera and comes with Ovi Maps installed offering free walk and drive navigation.

The C6 runs a Symbian OS with full app access and, although the details are light at the moment, we know that there's home screen widget access to Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. The implication is that there's plenty of other social network support as well but whether this is app based and via the Ovi store or not is, so far, unanswered. If you're looking to spend a little less, then the Nokia C3 comes in the same range and still has a full QWERTY for €90.

 

Samsung Genio Slide

Cost
from £15/month
Native networks
Twitter, Facebook, IM, MySpace

The Genio Slide is no luxury device but it certainly offers decent social networking bang without spending the bucks on a big name OS. You get widget access to core apps like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter plus a decent threaded messages package that looks much like the way SMS is done on the iPhone and Android for a proper conversational feel. Instant messaging is also given a boost with the Multi IM application which integrates all your IM accounts into one chat.

The phone itself has a got a 2.8-inch touchscreen, a 3-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, HSDPA 3G, GPS, a 3.5mm audio jack, FM radio and a microSD card slot supporting up to 16GB cards. If that lot doesn't clinch it, then it'll also support BBC iPlayer as well. Just a shame there's no push e-mail.

 

Microsoft Kin

Cost
from £10/month
Native networks
Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Windows Live

Whether you go for the smaller, squarer, Kin One with the 2.6-inch touchscreen and 5-megapixel camera or the landscape look Kin Two with 3.4-inch touchscreen and 8-megpixel camera, Microsoft has certainly come up with something attractive for social networkers to consider.

Built by Sharp, they won't run Windows Phone 7 but a UI known as Kin Loop which will pull in status updates from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or Windows Live, and others without having to load separate applications. Users can then share things they like by dragging them into a green spot at the bottom of the screen.

You get built-in Zune player functionality and something called Kin Studio that automatically backs up texts, call history, photos, videos and contacts, and populates a personalised digital journal for you to look back on. They're both out in the US in May and Europe in the autumn and certainly provide an original take on the social networking mobile device.