Solid mid-range offering for Facebook fans
When Mark Zuckerberg rebutted the rumours of a Facebook phone, he said it was working on deeper integration to mobiles. That is certainly the result with the INQ Cloud Touch, a budget handset for Facebook addicts. But will we be clicking the 'T3 likes this' button on this Android 2.2 handset?
Check out our video below, but as soon as you start up the INQ Cloud Touch, it's obvious this is aimed at serious Facebook users. You log in once, then stay Facebooked up from then. And it's no add-on hidden away in a sub-menu somewhere either; right on the home page is your Facebook News Feed, then tabs at the top for People, Events, Notifications, and Places.
The News Feed shows photos uploaded, or status updates in a large font within quote marks, and you can flip between them simply by pressing the arrows (swiping would've been more intuitive, but that takes you to the next home page as on other Android handsets). It looks great, easy to read at a glance, though it is slow to update, currently only updating every four hours. INQ is looking to change this, but at the moment it's frustrating, and undermines the whole point of Facebook on your mobile, as you may as well wait until you get home to check for updates, or go to Facebook in the browser.
The People tab lets you choose your closest friends with a news feed for each, so you don't have to wade through everyone's posts. Again, it has a bespoke feel, looking like pages from a scrapbook, and lets you comment and click through to links (though it takes two, as the first click takes you to the Facebook page). It starts you off using the Facebook API graph to show the friends you interact with most, then it's simple to choose more from your list. Events, Notifications and Places are just like on regular Facebook.
Facebook Chat is also on board, and is a great addition, mostly thanks to the superb keyboard, which predicts words as you type – not only what you're writing, but the next word too. And it's eerily accurate. Other great touches include the ability to jump straight to the camera or Google search when unlocking, just drag the relevant icon from the bottom of the unlock screen, and the ability to pinch to view all seven home screens at once. Then there are the physical buttons.
One on the top left marked 'i' shows you handy options like the alarm, time and date, wi-fi status, battery and memory, so there's no rummaging in deep menus. Then one on the bottom right takes you straight to Spotify, letting you stream tunes to your handset. As menu options go, it's pretty unbeatable. It's a sign of the times you have to scroll three quarters of the way down the Applications page to actually find the keypad and call someone – this is more a Facebook portal than a phone.
The Cloud Touch performs well thanks to its 600Mhz processor, though the shutter speed on the 5-megapixel camera is slow, and it lacks a flash. The handset has a real cheap and cheerful feel to it, solid and built to last, with highly intuitive menus. This kind of integration is a great idea, surely the way forward, and if INQ can sort out the update problem (maybe add a Refresh button?), it's sure to become a must for Facebook diehards. The young heavy-Facebook using market INQ is targetting will love the Cloud Touch, although users who want more features from their handsets might want to wait for the HTC ChaCha or HTC Salsa.
INQ Cloud Touch price: £18 a month £299 sim free
INQ Cloud Specifications:
- OS: Android 2.2
- Processor: 1GHZ 512MB
- Storage: 140Mb, MicroSd
- Screen: 3.5inch 320x480
- Connectivity: 3.5mm, N WiFi, aGPS,Bluetooth 2.1
- Camera: 5-megapixel
- Video: 720p at 30fps
- Talk time: 390 minutes
- Dimensions: 114x62x13mm/122g