Back in February, at the grand stage of Mobile World Congress, HTC announced its two Facebook phones, the Salsa and Chacha. We decided to pick up the HTC Salsa C510e for review and gave the Facebook phone a quick test run. There were a ton of rumors about a Facebook phone before MWC and it ended up being a small integration by HTC. So does an official F button on an Android phone spells success? Let’s find out:
- 3.4″ Tocuhscreen / 480 x 320
- 5MP Camera, Auto-focus, Flash, VGA front camera
- 512MB RAM, 512MB Internal Storage, 800 MHz processor
- microSD slot (2GB bundled)
- 3.5mm audio jack
- 1520 mAh Battery
- GPS / Bluetooth / WiFi ‘n’
- Weight 120 gms
- Android 2.3.3
Built and Design:
Salsa has a standard HTC design, the chin that we have seen right from the era of HTC Hero accompanied with a complete plastic body that gives a solid metal look. The weight at 120 gms also strikes a good balance, but the mis match of colors on the back, makes us a little uncomfortable. HTC has tried to give this phone a blue feel (the Facebook connection), while the built is strong, this isn’t as good looking as many other HTC offerings (Note: looks = subjective)
The front of the device has the standard touch buttons seen on Android phones (home, menu, back and search), a VGA camera and the Facebook button on the chin. The earpiece has a chrome outline. The camera button on the right isn’t the usual plain metal, but has a rugged surface. The micro USB slot is on the left, so is the volume controls. The volume toggle is again a single long button as seen on the Wildfire S. The power button and 3.5mm audiojack on the top and the camera, LED flash and loudspeaker on the back.
HTC Salsa sports a 3.4″ screen with the resolution being same as Wildfire S, 480×320. Given the bigger screen size on Salsa, the display doesn’t appear as sharp as it did on the Wildfire S, or shall we say the Wildfire S looks much better with the same resolution given its smaller screen size. Either ways, you get the point right?
We still like the HTC Sense 2.1 that we reviewed with the Incredible S and Wildfire S, do read our experience with the same here. The homescreen, quick settings, navigation, keyboard, the Sense work in HTC’s favor. Moving beyond that, the Salsa offered little. Priced equivalent to a Nexus S (At Rs 20,400), even with an 800 Mhz processor and 512MB RAM Salsa even fails to run Angry Birds smoothly. You may blame it on Android or HTC, fact remains that it doesn’t work!
If it seems unfair to start the most crucial section of the review with an Angry Birds comparison, you may also note that Gameloft’s Asphalt 5 (Free) installed on the device and threw a pretty “We are sorry, your device cannot support Asphalt 5″ error message (we are advised that it’s due to the 256k color screen). With the Wildfire S, such a sacrifice was acceptable, but on Salsa, at this price we expected it to perform much better, better than just doing Facebook updates.
So what is the Facebook integration on Salsa like?
There isn’t any rocket science in the Facebook button that Salsa carries, but its intuitive and you would definitely find yourself sharing lot more stuff on FB. When viewing a picture simply press the F key to share it on your wall with (allows you to tag and add a description) or when clicking a new picture / shooting video, use the Facebook button to do the honors. At this point, we aren’t sure if 3rd party app makers have any API to use this Facebook button, thus allowing a lot more to be done.
We liked the music output on Salsa, the good thing about the loud speaker is the fact that it only enhances the experience when you place it on the table.
We have complained before, and it seems that HTC continues to take the internal memory on Android phones lightly. The Salsa features 512 MB internal memories, and, after the initial 4-5 apps we installed we were prompted to free memory on the device. The bundled SD card helps here, but we would love to see some more internal memory on these devices. You would notice a good lag in reading the SD card and getting Sense UI up and running when the phone is first booted up.
The battery though 1520mAh does very average. In 4.5 hours of usage with some twitter, <5 Facebook updates, camera testing for 5-10 mins and no calls at all, the battery level was below 50% (WiFi and Edge on). We wouldn’t expect this to last over a day and with heavy usage, unlike any smartphone expect to recharge before the end of the day.
HTC Salsa C510e captures 5MP pictures and the camera has some inbuilt tweaks like sepia, greyscale etc. The video recording is 720×480 (3GP format). Nothing is very spectacular about the camera, but the Facebook button can be used to snap pictures and it can be fun sharing some quick snaps online. You also have an option of auto-uploading the pictures you click on Facebook or Flickr. The image quality is average and while it isn’t a fair comparison, you can see how it fares when put against the iPhone 4′s 5MP shooter.
Some more sample shots from HTC Salsa (and effects)
The messages widget on homescreens lags when scrolling, pinch to zoom is not as fluid as the Samsung Galaxy S (a 2010 model, though give it credit for having a 1GHz Snapdragon) and the phone heats up if the call goes over a few minutes. As much as we were excited to have the Salsa magic, it disappointed us. The HTC evangelist at a leading retail store in our city who sold us the Salsa complained of the high price tag as well, and we wonder if this would even make a good buy at Rs 15000? It’s a rare case when we NOT recommend a device from a top manufacturer, and no matter how crazy you are about the Facebook feature, we would advice to steer clear from this one.
HTC Salsa – Android 2.3.3 – Software Number: 1.12.720.3