HTC Salsa and ChaCha phones dance with Facebook

After all the rumours, speculation, denials, and official comments, HTC has debuted the HTC ChaCha and the HTC Salsa at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday to take on Inq and its new Facebook phone offerings.

Rather than launch one Facebook focused smartphone, HTC has opted to launch two models. The HTC ChaCha that will have a QWERTY keyboard and dedicated Facebook button, and a second touchscreen-only device that will be called the HTC Salsa. 

The ChaCha will come with a 2.6-inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 480 x 320 pixels, a BlackBerry-esque QWERTY keyboard, while the HTC Salsa on the other hand, is a full touchscreen smartphone. Both come with a dedicated Facebook button. Both will also run Android 2.2 and be powered by the MSM 7277 Qualcomm 600MHz processor. You shouldn’t expect either to be a particularly powerful handset compared to the company's other models.

Users will be able to press the Facebook button at any time to send a status update, and depending on where you are in the phone’s interface will depend on what options are available to you. Pressing the Facebook button when on a webpage, for example, will automatically grab the URL for you, while holding the button down for longer will take you to the option to check-in with Facebook Places.

That dedicated button that actually works HTC’s FriendStream service rather than the Facebook app, and by pressing it users will also be able to tweet at the same time or any other service supported by the company’s FriendStream app.

But it’s not just about a button for quick Status updates. HTC says that the new Facebook focused phone will have “Deep integration of Facebook throughout the phone” like Facebook messages going straight into universal email in the same way it does on a BlackBerry.

However HTC admits that this isn’t an official Facebook phone, even though they have had permission to use the logo on the device.

“We are collaborating with Facebook,” a spokesman told Pocket-lint before adding that “we don’t expect them to endorse it.”

John Wang, chief marketing officer at HTC, detailed how 200 million Facebook users interact with the social network through smartphones, often checking as soon as they wake up. HTC welcomed Facebook vice president Chamath Palihapitiya to the stage to reinforce the message of close communication between the two companies.

Both new Facebook offerings will be available in Q2.

HTC isn't the first to launch a "Facebook phone", INQ pipped the company to it with the launch of the INQ Cloud Touch and the INQ Cloud Q. The INQ Cloud Touch is like the HTC Salsa a touchscreen affair, while the Inq Cloud Q will offer a QWERTY keyboard experience.



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