3 Mobile INQ1

3 launches "Facebook phone".

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3 Mobile INQ1
  • 3 Mobile INQ1
  • 3 Mobile INQ1
  • 3 Mobile INQ1
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Price, Facebook and social-networking integration, expandable memory, widgets and customisable home screen

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi, text very small in some applications, no 3.5mm headphone jack

Bottom Line

The INQ1 is a highly commendable handset that offers outstanding value for money. It may lack a few features, but if you're after a cheap and easy way to stay connected, both on your mobile and via social-networking tools such as Facebook, this is the handset for you.

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A mobile handset that integrates a number of social-networking features including Facebook access, 3 Mobile's INQ1 has been lauded as "the world's first social mobile". In addition to these networking features, the INQ1 provides outstanding value for money.

The INQ1 is only the second 3-branded phone, following the Skypephone. The Skypephone was largely built of plastic, but the INQ1 is an entirely different kettle of fish. This is a superbly constructed handset that oozes plenty of style thanks to a brushed metal finish and smooth slider mechanism. Our only complaint is that the slider slightly sways from side to side at times.

Sliding open the INQ1 reveals a large and comfortable keypad. The controls are straightforward, headed by a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer and end call keys and dedicated menu and clear buttons. The same is true of the user interface — animated menu blocks are easily identifiable and submenus utilise a simple list format that is easy to grasp. The display has excellent viewing angles and performs reasonably well in direct sunlight, but some text, particularly in applications like Facebook, is a little too small for our liking.

Active widgets such as Yahoo! weather can be displayed on the home screen; there are three slots available. The screen can tend to look a little cluttered with all these boxes active, but it remains easy to use. You'll also find commonly used applications such as Facebook on what 3 calls the "switcher" — a row of icons at the bottom of the screen. A button on the right side of the handset activates the switcher, and you can add further applications or even bookmark Web sites for one-touch access.

Although Windows Live Messenger and Skype applications are also available, Facebook is clearly the main attraction here. The good news is that it is surprisingly well integrated. The INQ1's Facebook app differentiates itself from other purpose-built mobile apps such as the one found on the iPhone 3G because it runs in the background and updates automatically. You can also choose to receive notifications on your phone when you receive a private message through Facebook, similar to a regular SMS.

Another stand-out feature is the integration of Facebook (as well as Windows Live and Skype) with the INQ1's contact list. You'll need to merge your personal contacts with your Facebook, IM and Skype contacts. This means you can be connected to them at a glance via your phonebook, and if someone calls you their profile picture will display. This does require you to manually enter some of your contacts though, which is time consuming.

Unfortunately, the INQ1 lacks Wi-Fi connectivity, but it is HSDPA capable. As the social-networking applications are integrated into the phone they tend to use less data than accessing Facebook on a regular mobile Web browser. We found speeds reasonable enough for everyday use — as 3 Mobile has offered very generous data plans, the lack of Wi-Fi isn't as much of a downside as usual.

The INQ1 also includes a media player and has expandable memory in the form of a microSD slot, but it is let down by the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. Thankfully, A2DP Bluetooth allows you to stream audio to a compatible set of wireless headphones or speakers. A fairly unremarkable 3.2-megapixel camera, the ability to add RSS feeds and a range of PIM functions including an alarm, calendar, calculator, notepad, stopwatch and a voice recorder, are some of the INQ1's other features.

3 offers the INQ1 for $0 on a $39 per month plan that includes $150 worth of calls and text messages and 1GB of data. Alternatively, the INQ1 can be bought for $249 on a $29 prepaid cap. This includes $150 of calls and text messages, 4000 Skype minutes and unlimited access to Facebook.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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