Competition in the smartphone market is forcing handset manufacturers and carriers to look to software to make their products stand out from the competition. A trend appears to be developing with one of the key differentiators being social network integration. A while back HTC announced two smartphones with Facebook integration, and one of those phones, the HTC ChaCha, is available for purchase on Vodaphone in the United Kingdom.
Besides the Facebook integration, another way that the ChaCha stands out is with it’s front-facing, hardware QWERTY keyboard, making it look more like a Blackberry than other popular Android smartphones. Because of the keyboard, the ChaCha only has a 2.6-inch touchscreen, so clearly the focus of this device is on messaging rather than viewing content.
The Facebook integration starts with a dedicated hardware button at the bottom of the phone, beneath the keyboard. To enter a status update or post to a friend’s wall, you press the Facebook button once, and then type the message. If you press and hold the button, Facebook Places loads, and you can then check-in to a location. To share a web page or the name of a song your listening to, you press the Facebook button with either one open, which enables you to post a link to the item with a message on your wall.
If want to know more about the HTC ChaCha, which is expected to be sold later this year in the United States by AT&T, I suggest reading Slashgear’s very thorough review. I think users will have to decide whether the benefit of having a front-facing hardware keyboard to quickly enter messages is worth having a smaller screen so see less information.