The HTC Salsa is the Taiwanese company's answer to producing their own Facebook phone. With a 3.4-inch, 480 x 320 capacitive touchscreen and 600MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, it not only rivals the INQ Cloud Touch in function but also in specs. We can see there will be a face-off at dawn.
We've now seen the HTC Salsa twice, first behind closed doors where we were able to play with the phone a little, and again at the press launch where these pictures were taken. The demo guys from HTC were restricting access to the Salsa because its software isn't finished yet - so we don't know exactly what the final experience will be like.
From the exterior there are two major Facebook hints in the design. The first is that Facebook button, which we can't help feeling is a little awkwardly placed. It feels like an after thought, as though the phone was designed, and the Facebook button added. HTC often describes the lip or curve at the bottom of the phone as a chin, so we can only liken the Facebook button to a pimple on that chin. Too harsh?
Still, you can't miss it, and if sharing is your thing, it seems competent enough. We tested the button in a previous session with the HTC Salsa and found it happily picked up a link from a website we were on and took us straight to a status update panel, that looked to be part of HTC's existing FriendStream app.
It will similarly send out the track you are listening too or let you post photos to Facebook. The button pulses blue whenever this direct function is offered, so you can easily just press it and get on with it. A long press opens up Places so you can check in.
The second element that associates the HTC Salsa with Facebook is a plastic insert in the back. Often HTC places some sort of plastic insert at the top of its phones (we assume to avoid the sort of reception problems that Apple encountered with the iPhone 4). In the case of the Salsa, it is blue and light blue, Facebook colours, but it does look a little odd, but will suit the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race.
We also saw a brown version of the phone with these multi-tonal inserts in brown. It does look a little odd.
Step around that and the HTC Salsa demonstrates the sort of build quality we've come to expect from HTC. It is a unibody design and although it has lower specs than many of the devices in the range, it's good enough to deliver that HTC Sense experience.
In offering HTC Sense, it doesn't have to be a Facebook phone at all - if you don't want to use the Facebook features then you don't have to, you still get that great Google and HTC experience.
The phone seems responsive enough to our prods, of course once we get it into the real world, we'll be able to give it a good testing and see how it matches up against the new INQ Cloud Touch.