TODO alt text

HTC ChaCha review

Body of a Blackberry, mind of an Android. Can the new 'Facebook phone' poke above its weight?

If you're bored of all the one-upmanship from manufacturers looking to outdo each other with specs and just want something fun, then the ChaCha is a serious contender. It takes what is a fairly stable HTC Sense/Android combination and builds on it to make a phone that looks fun, and does its primary Facebook job well while not scrimping on (most of) its other obligations.

It's currently being marketed very heavily here in the UK - and will likely be on many a Christmas list at the end of the year. It'll be interesting to see what impact it has on BlackBerry's similar offerings.


We liked

HTC's Sense has become one of the big successes of the Android story, and the way they've integrated it here with Facebook is both intuitive and inventive.

Tapping out your status or just an email or message is a piece of cake, because the keyboard is usable and doesn't present any real issues like some do.

You'll also get more bang for your buck here with the battery. While Androids are notorious battery hogs, we felt comfortable enough with the drainage to not have to check how much was left every five minutes.

We disliked

Seriously, HTC... the ChaCha? It's one thing having a cool name - but who on earth thought that one up? We actually felt embarrassed when our Facebook status updates revealed they were 'posted from a HTC ChaCha', and became a bit of a laughing-stock among friends.

Although the shape does work well for the keyboard, the chin looks downright odd. We thought HTC's random design flaw/feature (delete as appropriate) had been consigned to the bin but evidently not. You'll notice the bulge this creates in your pockets, and people do comment on it, wondering why the phone is bent - although it does have some benefit for screen viewing angles.

Finally, creating a phone on Android Gingerbread that can't cope with Flash is a terrible omission. OK, we get that the ChaCha is designed to have a lower price point, and as such needs to have compromises here and there, but it seems this phone would really benefit from a spot of Flash integration.

Verdict

The ChaCha is not a revolutionary device. Yes, the Facebook button is new and a few of the elements in there are premiered here but ultimately, it's an evolution, not a revolution.

Having said that, it's not necessarily a bad thing. You know what you're getting here - a stable OS with an extra skin on top that has proven to be more than competent. And for the 14-21 year-olds who have their eye on this 'Facebook phone', it'll be enough.

The price certainly is closer to the budget end of the scale, which we really like, and the quirkiness of the phone makes it a real breath of fresh air in a sea of indentikit black-slab touchscreens.

However, with the cramped screen it feels like the HTC ChaCha is a one trick pony at times - get bored of the Facebook integration and you'll probably start casting envious glances at your friends' whizzbang phones and thinking 'do I really love having a keyboard?'

When you turn the ChaCha on, you're greeted with HTC's logo and slogan: "Quietly Brilliant". There's certainly nothing quiet about the ChaCha - and while 'brilliant' may be pushing just a little, it's certainly not far off for the Facebook generation.


Thanks to the Carphone Warehouse for our review unit and giving TechRadar exclusive early access to the finished model.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen, QWERTY
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory512 MB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourSilver
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameHTC
Battery Talk Time7.50 Hour
Product ModelChaCha
Screen Size6.6 cm (2.6")
Screen Resolution480 x 320
Weight (Approximate)120 g
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height114.4 mm
Width64.6 mm
Depth10.4 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time430 Hour
ManufacturerHigh Tech Computer Corp
Product NameChaCha Smartphone
Processor Speed800 MHz
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeG-sensor, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Accelerometer
Manufacturer Part Number99HND002-00
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.europe.htc.com
Marketing Information

Be the first with the news

HTC ChaCha has a Facebook button that lets you share just about anything with just one touch. Take a photo - straight to Facebook. Make a video - straight to Facebook. Show whatever, whenever, at the touch of a button.

Chat room with all your friends

Chat with all your friends on the world's biggest social networking site. HTC ChaCha's Facebook chat widget means you can group all your friends together, and see when anyone is online. Start a live instant chat, and juggle between as many private conversations as you want. The conversation never ends with HTC ChaCha.

Limited Warranty1 Year