HTC has announced a pair of Facebook phones at MWC 2011, two affordable Android devices with a focus on social networking. The first of the pair is the HTC ChaCha, a physical QWERTY handset paired with a 2.6-inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen, followed by the HTC Salsa, an all-touch version with a 3.4-inch touchscreen. Both the ChaCha and Salsa have a dedicated Facebook button, hard-coded to instantly share content like photos, music links or Facebook Places location links.
Hit the Facebook key when you're looking at a photo, for instance, and the ChaCha and Salsa will automatically offer to upload it. You can tag people in the image, add comments, choose whether to create a new gallery or add it to an existing photo collection, and even define privacy settings. Press the Facebook button while listening to music, meanwhile, and the currently playing track will be listed on your wall along with an Amazon link to preview and purchase it. A long press of the Facebook key pulls up Facebook Places, again with various privacy options attached. It's also worth noting that, because Sense is the engine behind all this, you can also share simultaneously with Twitter if you choose to.
The Android calendar is automatically populated with Facebook events, but HTC has also added further detail such as comments and attendees for each event. The related wall and photos are also attached. Facebook messages are included in the universal inbox, and Facebook Chat is supported with user presence indicated in the Android address book. HTC is quick to point out that this isn't an exclusive Facebook endorsed device - there will be other Facebook-centric handsets from other manufacturers, for instance - but that the two companies have worked closely to make sure the experience lives up to expectations.
It's all built on top of Android 2.4 Gingerbread and a new version of HTC Sense, which the company had to modify to suit the relatively small, pixel-dense display of the ChaCha. The usual row of Android buttons are touch-sensitive keys under the screen, and there's a chin-like kink in the phone that angles the keyboard out a little. Physically, the HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa are based on a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor, 512MB of both RAM and ROM, and has both 5-megapixel front and VGA rear cameras, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS. While the ChaCha gets its physical keyboard, the HTC Salsa is targeted more clearly at what the company describes as the "playful youth market"; that adds up to a harlequin collection of colors around the camera on the back, and a generally more eye-catching design.
The relatively slow processor means that HTC can keep the price down, and that means the ChaCha and Salsa should actually launch in-between the Wildfire S and Desire S in terms of cost. Exact pricing is yet to be confirmed, though HTC says operator interest worldwide has been strong ahead of the expected launch at the end of Q2 2011. We already know that Vodafone UK has signed up to the ChaCha at least, and we imagine they won't be alone as Facebook mobile fever catches on.
HTC UNVEILS TWO SOCIAL PHONES WITH ONE-TOUCH FACEBOOK® ACCESS
HTC raises the bar for mobile social phones with HTC ChaChaTM and HTC SalsaTM
BARCELONA, SPAIN – Mobile World Congress – February 15, 2011 – HTC Corporation, a global designer of smartphones, today announced two new phones built entirely to be social, combining the simplicity, ease-of-use and depth of HTC SenseTM with the power and connectivity of Facebook®. As part of an extended portfolio of six new HTC Sense-based devices being unveiled at Mobile World Congress, HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa feature a dedicated Facebook® button for one-touch access to the key functions of the Facebook service that are integrated throughout the HTC Sense experience.
“HTC has always understood that different people want different things and the new HTC ChaCha and Salsa offer special new ways to experience Facebook on a mobile device,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation. “With more than 500 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become synonymous with the social web and we wanted to create the ultimate socially connected phones with mass market appeal.”
“We have worked closely with HTC for several years on bringing Facebook to their devices and HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa are the next stage,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business for Facebook. “HTC has brought Facebook to these two new devices in an innovative way enabling people to connect and share easily whenever they want, wherever they are.”
The Facebook button on HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa is context-aware, gently pulsing with light whenever there is an opportunity to share content or updates through Facebook. With a single press of the button, you can update your status, upload a photo, share a Website, post what song you are listening to, ‘check in’ to a location and more. For example, you can take a photograph of friends on your phone and upload it instantly to Facebook by simply pressing the button. Or let your friends know what song you’re listening to by pressing the button while listening to music on the phone. The track is automatically identified and shared on Facebook.
The new devices feature Android 2.4, the latest version, and use the latest iteration of HTC Sense to integrate Facebook throughout the HTC Sense experience. When you make a phone call, the dialer screen displays your friend’s latest status and photos, and even tells you if their birthday is approaching. The same updates are also displayed when you receive a call from a Facebook friend. You can also use your phone’s existing contacts to help you connect with them on Facebook or personalize your handset further with a number of new, Facebook-branded widgets.
The HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa smartphones make it simple to stay in touch with your friends using Facebook Chat and Messages on your phone. Your Facebook messages and conversations are integrated within your phone and appear within your text and email inboxes alongside your regular conversations.
Stay connected with the smartphone for the Facebook generation – HTC ChaCha
The HTC ChaCha smartphone is designed to provide a seamless, social experience by enabling you to stay in touch with your friends anytime, anywhere. The unique tilt design shapes the display and physical QWERTY keyboard so it is easy to view and comfortable to type. Capture special moments in crisp, High-Definition detail or video chat with your friends using the dual cameras, including a 5-megapixel color camera with auto focus and LED flash and a VGA front-facing camera. The ChaCha smartphone also brings the Internet to your fingertips with a 2.6-inch, 480 x 320 resolution landscape touch screen.
Your Facebook friends never felt closer – HTC Salsa
Boasting the same deep Facebook integration as the HTC ChaCha smartphone, the HTC Salsa smartphone provides a fast, high-performance smartphone experience. Capture the moment in high-resolution stills or video with the 5-megapixel camera and immediately share it with friends on the generous 3.4-inch, 480 x 320 resolution touch display. Upload your photos to Facebook at the touch of a button. For face-to-face conversations on the move, the VGA forward-facing camera enables high-quality video calling.
The HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa smartphones will be available to customers globally starting in Q2 2011.