(Credit: Alex Kidman/CBSi)
With an 800MHz processor, we'd expect decent but not great performance, and the Salsa lives up to that kind of billing. There are moments when it gets unexpectedly laggy, but not terribly so. The Salsa's battery was good for a single day's testing quite easily for us, but struggled to make it through two days; like most smartphones unless you use it terribly sparingly (or are) you'll need to charge it every night.
HTC Sense is exactly the same beast it's been for some time; a relatively unobtrusive way for HTC to add small new features to the otherwise vanilla Android experience. One trick that the Salsa shares with the ChaCha is the circular lock screen arrangement. Flicking the circle upwards will unlock the phone, but you can optionally drag any of four icons of your choice down to the circle, which will unlock the phone and launch the application of your choice. We thought this would be gimmicky when we first saw it demonstrated, but quickly found it surprisingly useful.
What we found less useful was the "f" button for direct facebook access from multiple apps. For a start, it just looks out of place. It's not configurable, so if you're not a Facebook user it's totally useless, but even if you are, the vast majority of Android applications include sharing functionality that covers what the "f" button does, and for many more sharing services. It's not a bad button, but as a key selling point it's kind of weak.
We've constantly compared the Salsa to the ChaCha in this review for a very good reason. While you can't buy the Salsa outright at the current time from Vodafone, it does offer both phones at the same contract price points. Of the two, the Salsa is arguably the superior — unless for physical reasons you simply must have an actual keyboard.
Putting aside other Android handsets from other carriers, there's a problem with that calculation, however, in the form of the Nexus S. Currently, Vodafone offers the Nexus S for exactly the same price and contract as the Salsa and ChaCha. Sure, it's a more bland phone in that you don't get HTC Sense or the "f" button, but it's also a more powerful and responsive phone, and we'd argue strongly that this is a better thing to get a phone for. While, like many others, we've had issues with Vodafone's network over the past year, if we were going to spend AU$29 per month on a phone from the carrier, the Nexus S is the phone we'd currently opt for.