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INQ Chat 3G review: INQ Chat 3G

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The Good Simple user interface; artist-designed menu; 3G connectivity; social-networking apps; attractive case with swappable covers; expandable memory.

The Bad No Wi-Fi; basic features; flimsy; doesn't come with a memory card.

The Bottom Line The INQ Chat 3G is surprisingly stylish for an inexpensive phone, and its Qwerty keyboard and simple user interface make it a doddle to use. But it's up against some stiff competition from the similar-looking BlackBerry Curve 8520, and, apart from its handy social-networking apps, it has few features

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5.5 Overall

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The INQ Chat 3G takes the popular, inexpensive INQ 1 and slaps a full Qwerty keyboard on top. It's an addition as delicious as gravy on a pile of mashed potatoes, but the Chat 3G doesn't live up to the BlackBerry devices that it emulates.

The Chat 3G is available from 3 for £90 on a pay-as-you-go deal, or £15 per month on a contract.

BlackBerry lite
Look at the Chat 3G from an angle and you could easily confuse it with a BlackBerry -- it has the distinctive landscape screen and Qwerty keyboard. That look has proved popular with business-focused phones from the Nokia E71 to the HTC Snap, but the Chat 3G targets the twittering Facebook addict rather than the email-happy business suit.

Like its predecessor, the INQ 1, the Chat 3G is no smart phone, but it comes pre-loaded with a pack of social-networking apps that help you keep connected on the go. The user interface is bright, simple and playful, with colourful images highlighting the menu options. Navigation is straightforward, thanks to a five-way function key, and, although the screen doesn't have a very high resolution, text is clear and easy to read.

Purty Qwerty
The addition of a Qwerty keyboard means that text messages and status updates are easy to type out. The keys lack the angled texture of the ones on the top-of-the-line BlackBerry Bold 9700, and there's no space between them. But they are as puffy as plush pillows, so we had no trouble pecking out our missives at top speed.

For an inexpensive phone, the Chat 3G is surprisingly attractive, and the swappable back cover is a pleasing retro touch

On the downside, you're restricted to the basic applications that the Chat 3G supports, so you can't install the same range of powerful apps and games that you could on a smart phone. We found that the Chat 3G could be sluggish at times, taking a few moments to register our clicks when using applications such as Facebook, or browsing through the customisable shortcuts on the home screen.

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