HTC ChaCha vs INQ Cloud Touch vs Vodafone 555 Blue

Many of us want little else from a smartphone other than the ability to fill our Facebook pages with gossip, pics and video while out and about. The result of this social networking skewed phone obsession is the blue button. The tiny dedicated Facebook key has become tattoo of choice for handsets marketing themselves towards the trendy 'yoof' and the social savvy. 

As of now there are four handsets that carry the Facebook stamp of approval; HTC's Salsa and ChaCha, INQ's Cloud Touch and the newly released Vodafone 555 Blue. Sure the INQ might not have its own dedicated button, but it's so Facebook-heavy it seemed difficult to leave out. We opted for just the ChaCha in this battle as it felt like it was slightly more of a flagship HTC Facebook handset.

None of the handsets are exactly pushing the boat out on the power front. But then who needs speed when sending messages and photo sharing is all that's important.  The deal-breaker is things like the battle between physical keyboard or touch screen, camera quality or how long the battery lasts. Oh, and price.

So which of the troublesome trio will emerge triumphant? Check out our spec-wars below..

Form Factor

1st: HTC Chacha
114.4mm x 64.6mm x 10.7mm

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
114mm x 62mm x 13mm
3rd: Vodafone 555
110mm x 61.1mm x 12mm


All three handsets hover around very much the same size, being perfectly pocketable without losing too much of the necessary smartphone functionality. The inclusion of a physical keyboard in the HTC and Vodafone offering means that more of the device is taken up with QWERTY and less with screen, but then for many that is a plus point. Personally we like the feel of the INQ, it has a slightly different approach to build that just makes it more interesting to hold than the usual smartphone. The ChaCha keyboard however is very, very good. The Vodafone does its best in the design department but don't forget, the 555 is aimed at emerging markets and as such is not as high end.

Display

1st: HTC chacha
2.6 inch, 480 x 320 pixels, 256k colours

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
3.5 inch, 320 x 480, 262k colours
3rd: Vodafone 555
2.4 inch, 320x240, 252k colours


HTC has a bit of an obvious advantage over the competition in the screen department. The ChaCha has a slightly better display than its Facebook centric competitors, with increased viewing angles and a tiny resolution bump. It is however much smaller than the INQ's and a bit more BlackBerry-like in its squashed-ness. Some may prefer this approach to smartphone design, personally we think the bigger the screen the better. The only problem is that the INQ's relatively low resolution makes things look fairly muddy, it does however have quite a decent level of colour saturation. Vodafone has done a good job again with the 555, which just about keeps up with the competition in the colour department. 

Processor

1st: HTC chacha
800 MHz

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
800 MHz
3rd: Vodafone 555
800 MHz


The processor is one of the most important things currently going in the smartphone wars. Those seeking the absolute best in graphics and speed are opting for dual-core handsets with things like Tegra 2 chips inside. Don't however think that this means these Facebook phones will be slow, far from it. Things might get a bit sluggish when multiple apps are running, but for social networking all pack more than enough power - except perhaps the Vodafone, but then that depends on how complex its operating system is. One thing worth noting is that HTC has a bit more experience than INQ at skinning Android, meaning you may notice a slightly smoother experience on the ChaCha than the Cloud Touch. Neither are particularly slow however, unless plenty of applications are running. 

Operating System

1st: HTC chacha
Android 2.3.3

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
Android 2.2
3rd: Vodafone 555
Vodafone designed


Running the latest version of Android is relatively important to any smartphone at launch. Google continually tweaks Android to add better features. Gingerbread was a particularly significant operating system jump bringing with it plentiful speed over its predecessor. This means that the HTC claims the crown relatively easily in the operating system department. Vodafone uses a dedicated Java based OS on the Alcatel designed handset. The idea is that it is extremely lightweight but allows very deep levels of Facebook integration. For those who simply want social networking on the go, it could be a sleeper hit. 

Facebook features

1st: HTC chacha
Facebook button

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
Facebook-centric 
3rd: Vodafone 555
Facebook button


This is where things get interesting. Every one of these phones has much better levels of Facebook interaction than the competition, but each implements it slightly differently. Those with a dedicated blue button, are perhaps the pinnacle of social networking. It acts as a context sensitive key that will blink when it can be used. Instead of using the conventional Android Facebook app it uses either Facebook for HTC Sense or Vodafone's offering. You can then send photos directly, status update, post on someone's wall or with a long press update your Facebook places. It is all very well integrated and feels like it just adds to conventional smartphone use. The INQ is slightly different, using specially made widgets that include things like news, people, notifications and places. A combination of INQ Facebook layers and the conventional Android app help to complete the experience. It is a very thorough approach to social networking, but personally we think the HTC and Vodafone deserve the win on this one thanks to the dedicated context sensitive button. 

Camera

1st: HTC chacha
5 megapixel rear facing, VGA front facing

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
5 megapixel autofocus forward facing
3rd: Vodafone 555
2 megapixel


What would Facebook be without photos, eh? The most enjoyable part of the social network is trawling through and endless stream of embarrassing drunk photos and holiday snaps. For the Facebook obsessed having a decent camera is important. Megapixel-wise, HTC and INQ obviously get the jump on the Vodafone. 5 megapixels is more than enough to get decent quality snaps up on Facebook. The HTC, however, slightly outperforms the INQ with a surprisingly good camera (when conditions suit) and a front-facing cam as well. 

Storage

1st: HTC chacha
512 MB internal memory, MicroSD expandable

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
512 MB internal memory, MicroSD expandable
3rd: Vodafone 555
40 MB internal memory, MicroSD expandable


Having plentiful storage is important as you will likely need space for apps and photos. Android handsets often ship with included MicroSD cards, these unfortunately do not. This means until you pick up an expansion, 512 MB is all you get. If you upload snaps straight to Facebook and don't store them locally on the phone then this won't be a problem, if however you want to share shots in reception-free zones it can be problematic. The value for money approach to the Vodafone becomes a lot clearer here where only 40MB is included. Don't forget, however, that the same rule applies, with instant uploads to the social network meaning you can regularly clear the handset out. Pretty sure that video will fill that storage quickly though. 

Battery life

1st: HTC chacha
1250 mAh

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
1300 mAh
3rd: Vodafone 555
1000 mAh


Flagship smartphones often come with battery draining processors and ultra bright screens. This means the middle-crowd often find their handsets last a lot longer. In the case of the 555 this doesn't seem to be the case, expect up to 3 hours talk time and no more. The HTC performs slightly better, managing 7 hours of 3G yapping. INQ slightly disappointed us with its battery life in our review

Network

1st: HTC chacha
HSDPA/WCDMA, Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
Quad Band GSM / GPRS / EDGE
3rd: Vodafone 555
2.5G, EDGEDual-Band(900/1800)


3G connectivity is a bit of a must if you want to be browsing lots of website and constantly uploading and downloading information from Facebook. The Vodafone is sadly EDGE only, but the clever Java based OS could very likely mean you don't notice the lack of speedy network connectivity. HTC manages to pull the win here, offering plentiful options for your mobile network enjoyment. 

Pricing

1st: HTC chacha
£219.99

2nd: INQ Cloud Touch
£219.99
3rd: Vodafone 555
Around £70


I don't think anyone can argue with a £70 phone that you can upload data straight to Facebook. That is an astronomically cheap price tag for a handset that, whilst may not be Android savvy, can still pack a punch in the social field. The ChaCha and INQ are currently shipping for around the same cost, meaning that it is a dead heat on the price front. With the INQ you do get the best packaging ever seen with a phone, with the HTC you get a keyboard. Difficult eh? 

Verdict

Personally we find choosing between the three very difficult. The Vodafone is not quite on the same level as the other two in the specs department, it is however extremely good value at £70. HTC has a keyboard, INQ doesn't but we think that is a matter of personal choice. Pricing on the pair is around the same which makes things even more difficult. If we had to choose one it would reluctantly be the HTC. The INQ innovates in so many different ways but can't quite match up to the ChaCha's build quality or seamless integration. That said it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for future, more powerful, INQ handsets which will likely be a lot better.

Which do you like best? HTC? Vodafone? INQ?



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