Hands-on with INQ's new Facebook phones
INQ co-founder Ken Johnstone really doesn't want us to call the new INQ Cloud Touch and INQ Cloud Q "Facebook Phones." But we will anyway. The British mobile company's latest smartphones are as close as anyone is going to see to official Facebook phones anytime soon.
Of course, this is all said with a bit of tongue in cheek. A great Facebook experience has made INQ's name in the countries where these "social mobile" phones are sold, but INQ doesn't want to be seen as subservient to the social media giant.
The new INQ Cloud Touch and INQ Cloud Q follow INQ's pattern of delivering high-quality, low-cost social-networking-focused phones. They're both Android 2.2 phones, based on the same 600Mhz Qualcomm 7227 platform as the popular low-end LG Optimus S/T/M/U alphabet soup. Johnstone said the 600Mhz processor provides enough power for social networkers, especially paired with Android 2.2. The phones have 320x480 screens, 5-megapixel cameras, Wi-Fi, FM radios, and 3G connectivity.
The devices just feel slick, like everything INQ has shown me in the past. The demo units they handed me felt solid for phones that will be free on contract in the UK, with hard, shiny paint that reminded me of automotive paint. In terms of fit and finish they made me think of those LG Optimuses again, and that's a good thing to think of.
The software on here is much, much more customized than LG's, though. It's not just about social networking. INQ's phones have custom power managers (with great, to-the-minute battery-life estimators), custom music players (Spotify is built in), and custom address books built on Facebook's social graph, so you see information from your most-liked friends first.
Oh, yeah. There's that Facebook again.
"We use Facebook's own engine at the heart of the phone," Johnstone said. "When Facebook do roll out new features—places might be a good example, or chat—our code will update without the user having to do anything… Facebook is part of INQ's DNA."
But, really, Facebook isn't all that's going on here. Take that music player: beyond Spotify, it can check in with your home computer on Wi-Fi and swap playlists over the air. The Wi-Fi client itself uses GPS trickery to automatically turn the Wi-Fi radio on when you get home or to the office and off when you leave, to save battery. And unlike some larger manufacturers, INQ is already talking about upgrading these Froyo phones to Gingerbread.
So—finally—can we call this the darn Facebook phone, Ken?
"To my knowledge, no one is working on an official Facebook phone," Johnstone said. "I'm not sure if Facebook would want a single Facebook phone being out there."
INQ's phones aren't currently sold in the US, but Johnstone said INQ is working as hard as they can to get a U.S. carrier to pick the devices up.
Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.
Listed under tags :