HTC ChaCha review

£230
Price when reviewed

On the post to Facebook interface, for instance, the notifications bar at the top and another toolbar below it combine to swallow up 27% of the total space, and on a screen this small you can ill-afford to lose that much. The screen supports multitouch, but actually using pinch-to-zoom gestures when you have this little space to play with feels awkward in the extreme. We also came across a few apps that didn’t adapt cleanly to the phone’s landscape mode

The core hardware isn’t as bad – but again, it’s flawed. The keyboard, for instance, is top quality: the keys have a light yet positive click, they’re domed and separated by a couple of millimetres, making fast, error-free text entry possible with a little practice. We also like the fact you can just start typing on the phone’s home screen to search through your contacts.

HTC ChaCha

But with a layout such as this – with the usual Home, Menu, Back and Search touch-sensitive controls between keyboard and screen – placing the cursor cluster in the bottom-right corner of the keypad feels wrong. The ChaCha is crying out for some kind of D-pad right in the middle to make the phone a little easier to use.

We like the general design and build quality. The phone feels solid and well made, and the combination of metal and white plastic is a satisfying one. There’s no HDMI output here, which isn’t surprising in a budget phone, but you do get a microSD card slot for expanding the stock 512MB allocation of storage.

In addition, there are two cameras – a VGA one at the front, and a 5-megapixel camera at the rear, accompanied by a single LED flash. Image quality is acceptable: with care, you can produce good, sharp snaps. Screen brightness is fine, at a measured 379cd/m2 with a contrast ration of 534:1; and calls on both earpiece and speakerphone come through loud and clear.

We had no argument at all with general responsiveness and performance, either. The 800MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor isn’t up with the latest dual-core offerings – scores of 10,462ms in the SunSpider test and a mere 656 in the Quadrant prove that – but the phone feels perfectly fleet of foot in and around the Android UI and while browsing the web.

HTC ChaCha - FriendStream

You can’t argue with the pricing, either: the ChaCha is available from a number of different suppliers for free on a £15 per month contract, which is mightily reasonable.

Disappointment quickly rises again, however, at below-par battery life. At the end of our 24-hour test only 40% remained on the gauge, a result that puts the ChaCha several places behind the majority of the smartphone pack. And, finally, although the phone ostensibly supports Flash, we failed to get it to play either YouTube or BBC iPlayer video.

Verdict

So it’s a pretty mixed bag. While good in some departments, the ChaCha disappoints in as many others. But all these positives and negatives are are nothing next to the small screen and awkward UI customisations. The ChaCha could be the fastest phone on the planet with the best camera and week-long battery life, and we still wouldn’t recommend it: it simply isn’t pleasant enough to use.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £15.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider www.mobiles.co.uk

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 7hrs 30mins
Standby, quoted 27 days, 12hrs

Physical

Dimensions 65.5 x 12.4 x 114.5mm (WDH)
Weight 120g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard Physical

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
ROM size 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 2.6in
Resolution 480 x 320
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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