HTC ChaCha review

Android smartphone with dedicated Facebook button
Photo of HTC ChaCha
£210.00 , SIM-free

The HTC ChaCha is one of several Android-based smartphones we’ve seen with front facing keyboards. They generally suffer because their screens are small, and Android has been squished up to fit into them. Android was made for tall narrow screens, and isn’t suited to the squat format this style of handset has.

However, HTC has tried hard to make Android 2.3 work in the ChaCha’s 2.6in 480×320-pixel screen. The screen automatically rotates into a taller than wide mode if you flip the handset round, giving you some benefit of a tall orientation, though oddly not all apps flip. The web browser is an example of one that should, but doesn’t.

Better is the fact that HTC has come up with keyboard shortcuts for lots of menu-based options, so that you don’t have to do lots of vertical scrolling – if you can remember the shortcuts, that is. You start out with four home screens, and can expand this to a total of seven as needed. It’s a better attempt than we’ve seen by some of the competition, but we still prefer larger, tall screens for our Android handsets.

Great build quality
The whole handset is very well made. The mix of metal and plastic lends a really robust feel to things, and the slight banana-like curve in the chassis looks quirky but helps the screen sit at a good angle when you’re typing, while not causing the ChaCha to rock and roll on the desk.

The keyboard is extremely well made. The keys are separated from each other and easy to hit accurately and at speed. There are four cursor keys on the bottom left of the keyboard which make it easy to move through text for editing.

The Facebook button
We aren’t too sure about the Facebook button, though. This sits below the Qwerty keyboard, and Facebook fans will no doubt find it very useful. But it’s a bit limited. When pressed, it takes you to a status update screen. You have to post an update and can’t programme the button to simply take you straight to your wall, which is annoying.

Still, when in camera mode you can press the Facebook button to take a shot and drop it into the Facebook upload screen. When you press and hold down the button, you go right into Facebook Locations. So it does have some useful functions.

Company: HTC

Website: http://www.clove.co.uk/

Contact: Clove on 01202 552936

Positives
  • Good keyboard; solid design; clever Facebook button.
Negative
  • Screen is cramped.

Verdict

The good screen and keyboard make the HTC ChaCha the best attempt we've seen to bring this design of smartphone to Android. The Facebook button will really appeal to some people, but even without that this is a well thought out smartphone.