A nifty little surprise popped up at CES this year, a nice little phone from INQ ("ink", not I-N-Q). The INQ phone's claim to fame is that it is a "Facebook phone." The INQ1 is already being pushed by Hutchison's 3 subsidiary over in Europe to social-networking-crazy teens. It is now pushing to get some support from GSM carriers here in the U.S.
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The hardware itself is better than many entry-level phones being offered by major handset manufactures. It is a slider with a good screen and solid build quality. The spring-assisted slide mechanism was smooth and snapped up smartly. The keypad was comfortable to use and the keys had good travel and feedback. According to the representatives that we spoke to, the phone is manufactured by Chinese ODMs. Whoever put it together did a good job. Everything about it is tight.
The user interface takes a unique approach to providing mobile services and access to social networking. The basic user inteface consists of a carousel along the bottom. You scroll through the carousel sideways to access the phone's different features. The carousel is populated with access to applications such as Facebook, eBay, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, etc. The Facebook application is a core feature and integrates into the phone's contact application and so on.
It is a 3G device, packing in HSDPA. Right now, INQ is hoping to get it placed at any U.S. carrier, whether that be pre-paid or post-paid. The price point is targeted at $100, which is very fair considering all that you get.