HTC salsa review

The HTC Salsa is yet another impressive Android phone from HTC, with its polished Sense interface as smooth, reliable and feature-packed as ever. The only flaws here are the phone's puzzling lack of internal memory and a camera that occasionally gets itself awfully bogged down.

If you can live with the above foibles, the HTC Salsa's an excellent choice for those who find today's four-inch "superphones" too big to handle.

We liked

The Salsa's battery life is superb – one of the big advantages of opting for a mid-sized screen with an average processor. If you've found the limited uptime of the bigger smartphones frustrating to live with, the Salsa will be a godsend.

HTC's hardware is once again excellent all round. The metallic case is sturdy, the screen responsive, the capacitive buttons reliable and trustworthy. Having a proper, soft-touch camera button makes it an excellent replacement digital camera, too.

The output of the camera is pretty nice for a 5MP sensor, producing colourful shots relatively free from digital mess. Video is also much better than produced by the Wildfire S, with the wide 720 x 480 output sharp and smooth.

We disliked

The camera app struggles, with quite a bit of lag slowing down the menus. It's not always laggy and is never totally unusable, but sometimes the icons take a second or two to scroll and the digital zoom can get itself horrendously bogged down.

The Facebook integration could seem a bit useless to some if they're more enamoured by the price point and looks of the Salsa rather than the FB button.

While it's nice to have one-button access to post status updates if you're a serious social networking people-botherer, HTC's own Facebook pages look awful and don't update as reliably as the official app. You'd be better off just using the Facebook app and its widget – although generally we found an increase in our Facebookery using the phone.

The lack of Flash Player support is offset by HTC's own Flash Lite app that manages to play many embedded videos, but without full Flash Player support the Salsa loses one of Android's key differentiating features. No iPlayer here. But then that's also the BBC's fault.

Once again, HTC has skimped on onboard storage. Simply installing our essential "day one" Android apps caused the Salsa to complain about low space. Giving users a shameful 150MB of storage space for downloaded apps and games just isn't good enough in 2011.

Verdict

We love the hardware and HTC's Sense interface runs exceptionally smoothly on top of Android 2.3, plus the Salsa works very well indeed as a mobile web browser and can handle the demands of Angry Birds' physics code with ease.

If the camera worked a little more smoothly and if there was a touch (well, a lot) more app storage space, it would be the perfect mid-sized Android phone.

It's a well-made phone that's enjoyable to use and a breath of fresh air in the world of bland black slabs – but today's app-hungry smartphone users will find its lack of onboard memory a daily frustration.