Vodafone 555 Blue hands-on

The first thing to say about the Vodafone 555 Blue is that it's not blue at all, it's white.

Actually the most important thing to say is that the 555 is not a handset to match the likes of the HTC ChaCha - another mobile phone built firmly with Facebook in mind, but definitely more smart than featurephone.

Oh no - it has neither the engine room nor the operating system to compete, being built on a propriety OS with a minimal chipset and just 2G and Edge connectivity.

But it is an official Facebook phone. Well, as official as you're likely to see for a while with Facebook's MD and VP EMEA Joanna Shields telling Pocket-lint: "This is as official as it gets, we're here right? We're here to support. It's a brilliant phone."

And it's a phone that will open up Facebook to millions of mobile users world wide, at least that was the message at the 555's official launch in London at which Pocket-lint was in attendance.

Group director of terminals at Vodafone, Patrick Chomet, spoke of the developing markets in India and the townships in South Africa where Facebook is a growing trend, but where access is limited to those with PCs, or those willing to visit Internet cafés regularly.

In the UK, where it will go on sale in August, the target market will surely be the social network-obsessed tween market whose parents aren't willing to equip their kids with a £500 handset just so they can update their pals with the latest Justin Bieber gossip.

So what exactly are you getting with Vodafone's Facebook phone? Well, it's a slimline QWERTY packing BlackBerry style handset with Facebook integrated at every step. And we mean every step. In fact, the first thing you do when you turn on the phone is log in to your Facebook accounts.

Then, you'll find Facebook around every corner. It dominates the home screen, it lingers in every menu and the customisable Facebook key allows you to update / share / stalk at just a touch of a button.

Your Facebook content is synced every 20 minutes, so there's no refresh times, and you can even set what content is synced if you're worried about data usage. Although Vodafone is keen to stress the 555 will be bundled with a decent enough data package so this won't be a problem.

In terms of other apps, it's fairly basic. You'll get an FM radio, an MP3 player and browsing with Opera mini 5.1. Included Facebook app fun is just a Java based Chat client at present, although more apps (Places and Events were mentioned) should be coming down the line through pushed OTA updates.

In terms of hardware you're looking at a 2.4-inch display and 2-megapixel camera with flash that can also shoot videos. It can play MP3s, WMAs and AACs through built-in music software, and its 40MB of on-board can be upgraded through SD card support (up to 16GB). There's also Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity.

The Vodafone 555 Blue will be hitting UK shops in August. Prices are still TBC but a Vodafone bod at the launch said to expect a phone and data bundle of around $100.