It is simply not good enough to churn out smartphones that are clones of other smartphones. Every handset needs an edge if it is to grab attention. HTC has recently come up with an edge in terms of a dedicated Facebook button, and has applied it to two phones. We’ve already reviewed one of these, the HTC ChaCha with its front facing mini qwerty keyboard, and now we come to the second, the HTC Salsa.
We don’t know why the dance theme is used in the naming of these two devices, but the names and the Facebook button mark them out as a pair of non-identical twins. On the Salsa, as on the ChaCha, the Facebook button sits on its own, at the bottom of the chassis. Its functions are a minimal set, but if they appeal to you they could be enough to sway your step in Salsa mood.
So, what does the Facebook button do? Well, press it and it takes you to the updates screen, at which point you can post an update. Or long press it and you are taken to Facebook Locations. An exception to that first, short press feature is if you are using the camera you can upload a photo straight into Facebook.
You can also use the button in some other apps. It flashes gently when there’s an option available. You can use it to share web pages, videos and the details of music you are listening to, for example.
That’s it. Not a great deal, really, and given that there is a Facebook app and FB Chat app on board too, you have fairly ready access to Facebook without using the button at all.
Facebook button aside, the Salsa is a neat little smartphone. A 3.4 inch screen delvers 480 x 320 pixels and does so clearly and brightly. The screen is just about large enough for comfortable web browsing and video viewing. There are four touch buttons for Android’s Home, Back, Menu and Search buttons beneath the screen and above it a VGA camera for video calling.
The main camera shoots stills to 5 megapixels and has a flash. It is nestled in a rubber backing which is made of two separate sheets that, on our review sample, were oddly not quite the same shade of blue.
The remainder of the back is a greyish/lilac metal which wraps around to the front of the casing and frames the screen. This, of course, means the backplate is not removable, and you get to the battery, SIM card and microSD card slot by removing a small cover at the bottom back of the chassis. It is very reminiscent of the HTC Legend design.
There’s a shallow lip at the front bottom edge of the chassis that we’ve seen before from HTC too, first in the Hero. Oddly, though, again the colour of this section didn’t quite match the rest of the metal.
The general specifications are quite pleasing for a middle range smartphone though the 800MHz processor which pushes things along does not support Flash. GPS, Wi-Fi and HSDPA are all present and correct, and HTC Sense offers its usual array of widgets for the seven home screens. An FM radio, HTC’s FriendStream, and Peep for Twitter are among the apps which add value to Android 2.3.
In the end the Facebook button doesn’t feel like it adds a great deal to the Salsa, and we think there are some issues with the chassis quality in terms of colour matching of its various parts. But, overall, the solid design means the HTC Salsa sits well as a mid range smartphone – if you can live with the lack of Flash support.