HTC ChaCha, Salsa 'Facebook phones' dancing onto Vodafone from 6 July

The Vodafone-exclusive HTC ChaCha and Salsa Android phones feature a dedicated Facebook button that works contextually.

HTC's Salsa (left) and ChaCha Android phones: available exclusively though Vodafone from 6 July

HTC's Salsa (left) and ChaCha Android phones: available exclusively though Vodafone from 6 July

Vodafone and HTC jointly unveiled the HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa smartphones last night at a media event in Sydney, adding some spice to the often monotonous Android phone market.

Read our detailed previews of the HTC ChaCha and the HTC Salsa, and check out our guide to the best upcoming smartphones in 2011.

Available from 6 July exclusively through Vodafone, the HTC ChaCha and Salsa Android phones feature a dedicated Facebook button that works contextually and lights up whenever the user can share multimedia content or status updates through the world's most popular social networking service. The phones were unveiled globally at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) tradeshow in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Both the HTC ChaCha and the Salsa naturally feature heavy Facebook integration. The Facebook button can be pressed to automatically upload an image taken with the camera, and will automatically check in through the Facebook Places feature. Users can also view Facebook statuses and photos on the dialler when making and receiving calls, and both phones include a dedicated Facebook chat widget that is built into HTC's Sense user interface.

"Communication is less about e-mail, text and voice, people just post it," said HTC's country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Ben Hodgson. "HTC understands the growing value of social media and has taken that to a whole new level. These innovative, intuitive devices come with a dedicated Facebook share button which enables contextual sharing of all content including status, photos, messages, Web pages, locations, music, and videos with a single push."

The HTC ChaCha has a full QWERTY keyboard along with a 2.6in capacitive touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, a front-facing VGA camera for video calls, and a microSD card slot for extra storage. The HTC Salsa has a larger sized 3.4in capacitive touch screen, and the same 5-megapixel camera, but has a touchscreen keyboard rather than a physical one. Both phones are powered by an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and run the latest 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android software for smartphones.

HTC says the ChaCha and Salsa phones will target a younger, teenage audience, or far more loosely "anyone who uses Facebook". Both smartphones stand out as they offer a unique alternative to many other Android phones on the market in the same price bracket. As Android phones all use similar software, it is becoming tough for manufacturers to distinguish their products from competitors. Admittedly, HTC seems to fair better at this than most, pushing its unique Sense user interface as a point of difference. The dedicated Facebook button on the ChaCha and Salsa models gives HTC another unique feature, albeit a minor one.

Both the HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa phones have been priced with a younger audience in mind — the devices are available for $0 upfront on Vodafone's $29 cap over 24 months, or for $0 upfront on the $45 infinite plan over 24 months. The $29 Vodafone cap provides $180 worth of calls and text, along with 200MB of data and unlimited Vodafone to Vodafone and 3 standard voice calls within Australia, while the $45 infinite plan includes unlimited calls and text and 500MB of data per month. Both plans include free, unlimited access to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, FourSquare and LinkedIn social networking services within Australia.

Alternatively, the HTC ChaCha is available as a pre-paid handset for $299, though it comes locked to the Vodafone network.

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Tags smartphonesVodafonehtcmobile phonesHTC SalsaHTC ChaCha

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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