I don't know what I was expecting from the INQ1, Three Mobile's successor to the Skype phone and a tool for
all almost all your social media needs on the go. But for some reason, the solidly built handset with its comfortable and intuitive interface actually surprised me.Make no mistake about it, the INQ1 is a well made phone. The brushed aluminium body hides a solid sliding mechanism that reveals the phone's keypad, with its large numerical buttons that are satisfyingly large and easy to press. For such a cheap handset, it's amazing how solid this feels in your hand - other handset manufacturers should definitely be taking notes.
The key aspect of this handset though isn't its solid build, but its integration with social media tools like Facebook, MySpace and Instant Messenger. And once again, it does the job amazingly well. Not only is there an integrated iPhone app on the phone, but using 3's network, it will keep you constantly connected to the service, updating you when you receive a message or when someone updates their status just like you're receiving a text message.
On top of that, the phone will pull down your Facebook friends' contact info and merge it with the contacts in your phone, including profile pics. It does the same thing for Skype, too, and presumably MySpace, although I didn't (and won't ever) have a MySpace account to check it out. Photos taken on the INQ1's 3.2 megapixel camera can be directly uploaded to your social media accounts as well.
It's not the perfect phone though - browsing the web is as painful as every other phone with a 2.2-inch screen, and even though Facebook, MySpace, Skype and Windows Live IM are included, there's no Twitter, Friendfeed or other social networking programs. There's also no Wi-Fi, although the phone comes with 3's excellent data rates, which should get most people through a month of status updates and IM conversations.
Battery life was also extremely surprising - even with both Facebook and Skype running in the background, the phone was still kicking on after a few days use. Hell, one week, when I didn't use it at all, but left it switched on, it managed to last for a full 5 days.
This isn't a phone many of us will ever buy, but for the teenage demographic, it's practically the Holy Grail. At $179 on a $29 prepaid cap it's extremely affordable, it's well built, has a 2-year warranty and is more socially connected than the PM on Twitter. If only all cheap phones were so appealing.