The INQ1 from 3 – first impressions as a social networking device

Previously posted on Mobile Industry Review.

When you take the INQ1 out of the box it feels like a quality device with its solid metal and plastic construction. However that illusion was shattered when I switched it on, as the display looks like a low end device and the icons and menus have a basic appearance. Instead of a user guide in the box there are a series of ‘flash’ cards which explain the principle applications. Although I thought the info was a bit thin it probably reflects the fact that non geeks rarely read user guides and just dive straight in! The full user guide is on the CD along with the PC Suite software for copying contacts, photos etc to your PC. Overall the handset’s performance is sluggish and the software seems fairly buggy as the it rebooted several times when I was trying out applications. Not a good start and may mean it has to go back.

Now to move on to the INQ1 as a social networking device.

The Facebook application looks good when you load it and has icons at the top for the key Facebook features – Profile, Inbox, Friends, Photos. The rest of the screen shows your News Feed. Reading and updating Facebook from the application is very easy, although you have to wait a while when you refresh to get your latest Facebook info or select an item to read. Not surprisingly, this is much slower than on a PC. I’ve also noticed that even when refreshed, the News Feed lags behind my PC. So, Facebook on the INQ1 versus Facebook via my E51 browser? I definitely prefer the browser version – it’s more responsive, up to date and I think easier to read. However, from a usability perspective, as an application that is easily available from the home screen, then Facebook on the INQ1 probably works better for Normobs.

The Skype application is very simple to use and incorporates Skype Out for calling ‘real’ phone numbers. Several times when I tried to use Skype, the handset rebooted. Live Messenger works well, with the long and frequently bizarre user names that some people use fully displayed!

In theory the browser provides web access but more often than not it returns an ‘unable to contact the website’ message! When it does work it’s horribly slow to load pages. I wouldn’t have the patience to use it on a regular basis.

Unfortunately there’s no Twitter application. For me that’s a big miss but as Twitter is still niche compared to Facebook I guess that forgivable!

Next I’ll be letting some Normobs in the family have a play with the INQ1 to see whether easy access to Facebook, Skype and Live Messenger holds appeal or whether they’d prefer to stick with their PC.

One very neat feature is the way Facebook, Live Messenger and Skype contacts are imported into the Contacts application on the handset so you can contact people directly from their and view their status. Effectively the INQ1 has presence enabled the Contacts application – something every handset should have.

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