HTC ChaCha review

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

HTC ChaCha
TechRadar's definitive HTC ChaCha review

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

If you buy this phone, the chances are you won't be picking it up as a tool to make calls, but as a way of staying in touch via messaging.

You can see just by looking at the ChaCha that it is set up for that purpose - and it obliges with great aplomb. The chances are, any kind of messaging or social networking feed you want will be catered for by the ChaCha.

HTC chacha message

Aside from the obvious Facebook messaging - which we'll get onto in a moment in the Social Networking section - out of the box, you can set it up with Exchange, Gmail, Flickr, other email accounts, news feeds and Twitter.

HTC chacha emails

That's on top of the rather fantastic Whatsapp cross-platform messenger we mentioned before, which you can download from the Android Market. There are also plenty of other add-ons that will allow you to do this.

Text messaging is standard Android fare with the HTC Sense skin overlaid and looks nice. Threaded conversations are supported, along with little thumbnails. It is a small thing, but it's these tiny cosmetic elements that make a huge difference when you're using the handset day in, day out.

The dedicated Gmail app is buried away in the app folder and the HTC mail app is given prominence on the main homescreen.

We think that this is a great email app, for what it's worth - messages are displayed clearly in HTML, which is resized automatically to fit the window, and you can search easily through your mail and the whole experience feels well thought-out.

Tapping out a new message can be done in a number of ways - you can either go into the individual app (Mail, Messages, and so on) and compose a new one, or you can go in through the recipient's address book entry.

The built-in keyboard is a dream to use. Because of the shape of the ChaCha, the hands seem to fit around it perfectly so that you can hold it and type out your messages promptly. As with all of these things, it's a bit of a learning curve (it took us a while to stop habitually getting the FN and Shift keys mixed up) but it happens eventually.

HTC chacha keyboard

The full stop button also doubles up as a shortcut to the camera. Quite why it's necessary is another matter, because you have shortcuts (including a camera) on the homescreen, but it's better to have it than not, we suppose. Keys go down with a satisfying click and we couldn't fault them at all, with blistering speeds possibly within an hour of use.