HTC unveils two Facebook phones

Summary:HTC has announced two unnoficial Facebook phones: the HTC Salsa and the HTC ChaCha. Both have a dedicated Facebook button that gives the user one-touch access to key functions of the service.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC announced multiple smartphones and tablets. Two of these have a dedicated Facebook button: the HTC Salsa and the HTC ChaCha. Both will be available in Europe and Asia during Q2 2011, while AT&T will get them exclusively in the United States later this year, at undisclosed price points.

The two new phones are built entirely around Facebook: the dedicated button gives the user one-touch access to key functions of the service that are integrated throughout the company's custom HTC Sense user interface, which is built on top of Android 2.3 (codenamed Gingerbread). The button is context-aware, meaning it lights up whenever there is an opportunity to update your status, upload a photo, share a website, post what song you are listening to, check in to a location, upload a photo you just took, and other Facebook activities. When you make or take a phone call, the dialer screen displays your friend's latest status and photos, and even tells you if their birthday is approaching. Facebook Chat and Messages are also directly integrated within your phone and appear alongside your text and e-mail inboxes.

As you can see above, HTC is offering touchscreen and keypad versions of its Facebook phones. The one on the left is the HTC Salsa while the one on the right is the HTC ChaCha.

The HTC Salsa has a 3.4-inch (480 x 320 resolution) touchscreen while the HTC ChaCha has a 2.6-inch touchscreen (480 x 320 resolution) and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Both have a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 CPU, 512MB of both RAM and ROM, a 5MP camera with auto focus and LED flash on the back, a VGA front-facing camera, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi 802.11n connectivity, a 3.5mm audio jack, and microUSB port. The HTC Salsa lacks GPS support, while the ChaCha, surprisingly, comes with it.

Facebook previously confirmed the existence of the HTC phones, but brushed aside their importance. According to Palo Alto, the devices were merely a prime example of a manufacturer using the company's public APIs to innovate in the mobile space. Now the social networking giant has slightly changed its stance, apparently backing their announcement. Still, the Taiwanese mobile manufacturer has not been allowed to market them as "Facebook phones."

"We have worked closely with HTC for several years on bringing Facebook to their devices and HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa are the next stage," Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business for Facebook, said in a statement. "HTC has brought Facebook to these two new devices in an innovative way enabling people to connect and share easily whenever they want, wherever they are."

"HTC has always understood that different people want different things and the new HTC ChaCha and Salsa offer special new ways to experience Facebook on a mobile device," Peter Chou, CEO of HTC Corporation, said in a statement. "With more than 500 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become synonymous with the social web and we wanted to create the ultimate socially connected phones with mass market appeal."

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, HTC, Mobility, Telcos

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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