First look at the HTC ChaCha

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We’ve finally managed to grab some hands on time with the HTC ChaCha, and we’re pretty impressed at what we’ve seen. We initially had fears that the dedicated Facebook button was a just a gimmick, like a shortcut to the app or something, and we were wrong. Dead wrong. The FB button is central to the entire ChaCha experience, and will definitely make sharing content and keeping up with your friends easier.

Darren Sng, Senior Director, Asia Product Marketing gave us a few figures that pushed them to create the ChaCha. There’s currently 700 million FB users in the world, 300 million of which access their account through a mobile device.  People who access their FB account through their mobile phones are twice as active, and half of FB users between ages of 15-24 access their accounts before they get out of bed.

The phone itself is a QWERTY deal, with a dedicated FB button located near the bottom. The FB button is integral to the experience, and throbs slowly when you’re in a place where you can share stuff to your FB account. Depending on the context on the screen, the FB button does a couple of things. On the main menu, pressing the FB button allows you to go directly to a screen that allows you to post directly onto your wall. A long press allows you to use the Facebook check-in at your current location. You can cut down the steps to posting pictures to your account directly from the camera – you just need to press the FB button before taking the picture and the picture goes directly to your wall. You can even share what you’re currently listening to – pressing the FB button while listening to music on the ChaCha will pull track information from the internet and posts what you’re currently listening to.

We’ve only managed to get a glimpse of the extent of the integration of Facebook in the ChaCha, but from what we’ve seen, it’s pretty substantial. So the only question here is, where do you get the data to power the experience? Well, HTC is partnering with Smart to deliver the Facebook experience to consumers – Luis Ang Jr., Senior Marketing Manager for Broadband Internet and Data Services for Smart was present during the briefing, and he tells us that Smart is coming up with Php 1500 unlimited data plan for the ChaCha. Users can also select the Php 1000 data plan for the ChaCha, though users will have to settle with a 100MB data cap. The ChaCha will be free for both plans. If you want to buy it via retail, you can expect to shell out Php 15,500. We’ll get a more proper review once we get our demo units.