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.