While most of us won't swap our iPhones or top-level Androids for INQ's two latest mobile phones, the Cloud Touch and Cloud Q, anyone considering their first smartphone should definitely check these out. Especially if you're F5-ing Facebook all day long.
Let's face it - there are so many Android phones out there, all doing slight variations on one another, that it takes an awful lot to stand out from the crowd. INQ Mobile told me they looked at a lot of design icons when creating these two phones, but drew most inspiration from Stormtroopers and Wall-E's Eve. It's certainly obvious in the while, glossy builds and little edging details.
What really makes these two phones stand out however is that the whole experience is built around Facebook. While MWC is still a few days away, and might very well toss up the Facebook phone that's been so-rumored, INQ's phones are so far the closest we have to a Facebook phone yet. From the moment you slide the locked screen icon through the membrane, and launch the home-screen, you'll see those familiar icons. From the home-screen you can easily start chatting; looking at your feed; see latest messages from your pals.
Both phones may run on Android 2.2, but it's not until you click the menu button that it seems familiar - the entire homescreen is devoted purely to the largest social-networking site in the world.
Another social service gets a look-in, though - at least in Europe, where it's only available (for now). Spotify is installed on the phones from the get-go, and on the right-hand side of both phones there's a quick-launch Spotify button which lets you control playlists (if you're a Premium subscriber). Not a Premium subscriber? Don't worry, there are still benefits - any local music you've linked to your Spotify account can be sent from your computer to INQ phone over Wi-Fi.
One of my favourite features is the dedicated "info" key on the left side of the phones. It launches a brightly-colored screen showing battery life (in easy-to-understand "talk time" and "music time"); plus quick-switches for Wi-Fi, GPS etc. Knowing how long it often takes poking through settings on other Android phones, it's a wonder other manufacturers haven't built similar features into their skins.
The differences between the two phones are slight. The Cloud Touch is INQ's first touchscreen phone, with a 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive display. It runs on a Qualcomm 7227 processor at 600MHz, and has 4MB of inbuilt memory (expandable via the 4GB microSD card included).
Connections-wise, it's a Triband HSPA handset with Quadband GSM, EDGE and Wi-Fi, plus Bluetooth, GPS and the usual host of sensors (such as an accelerometer, compass, ambient light and proximity sensor). The camera has a 5MP sensor, and the battery is a 1300mAh model—which is thankfully complemented by a nifty feature that automatically turns on the Wi-Fi when you venture into a known spot, and then turns it off when you leave.
The Cloud Touch is on sale worldwide in April, whereas the QWERTY Cloud Q will be available later this year.