HTC ChaCha review:

HTC ChaCha

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Typical Price: £250.00
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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars 22 user reviews

The Good Amazing Qwerty keyboard; great battery life; ergonomic design; Facebook button is handy.

The Bad Landscape screen can be problematic; limited Flash support in browser.

The Bottom Line If you can live with the HTC ChaCha's landscape screen, you'll find it's a hugely likeable device, thanks to its Android software, dedicated Facebook button and excellent Qwerty keyboard.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

The HTC ChaCha is a castanet-clicking, hand-clapping smart phone, with a beauty mark in the form of a dedicated Facebook button. It also offers all the power of Android 2.3 Gingerbread and an excellent Qwerty keyboard.

The ChaCha is available for free on a monthly contract for around £15 per month. SIM-free, the phone will set you back around £250.

Do the ChaCha

Released alongside the HTC Salsa, the ChaCha is one of a new generation of Facebook-focused handsets. Mobile manufacturers are quickly catching on to the fact that social networking is big business, and we'd be willing to bet both of these phones will shift a substantial number of units purely because they boast the Facebook logo on their casing.

The ChaCha comes with a range of Facebook-focused apps, including a neat Chat client that works well with the Qwerty keyboard.

When compared to the Salsa, the ChaCha initially feels rather strange. The odd bend in the middle of the phone is clearly intended to improve the feel of the device in the hand, and it certainly does so, but it looks odd.

Thankfully, this bend makes the ChaCha's Qwerty keyboard a joy to use. The width of the phone allows you to comfortably use two thumbs for typing, and the buttons themselves are large and easy to locate, even if you have chubby fingers. They also emit a satisfying 'click' when pressed. Compared to the cramped keys on the BlackBerry Curve 8250, the ChaCha's keyboard feels positively spacious.

Display disappointment

Sadly, fitting in all those lovely, tactile buttons has forced HTC's designers to compromise elsewhere -- namely the landscape screen. Although its resolution of 480x320 pixels offers a sharp image, this is largely down to the small size of the display -- it measures just 2.6 inches from corner to corner.

Although we've seen Android phones with similar screens before -- the Acer beTouch E210, for instance -- they're not common, and the display's shape can cause problems when it comes to using some apps. Those that appear in portrait mode, for example, require the ChaCha to be held sideways, and other apps tend to flit between portrait and landscape displays, forcing you to constantly turn the phone in your hands.

That pesky landscape screen can cause occasional headaches -- expect to hold the ChaCha in some odd positions.

Those apps that do play happily with the landscape view suffer from other complications. Content is squashed down to fit on the screen, and scrolling through certain applications, such as TweetDeck, becomes an unnecessarily tiresome experience.

One plus point is that websites look good, as they're intended to be viewed on 16:8 monitors. Flash support is limited to animated banners and little else, though.

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