Like most messaging devices the ChaCha has a landscape screen. It’s a 2.6inch display and its resolution is relatively high at 480x320 pixels. However, Android is not really designed for landscape screens and a lot of the time it feels a bit pinched on this device.
HTC has tried to get around this somewhat by tweaking its Sense user interface enhancements to work better on the landscape screen. For example, it seems to have resized many of its widgets so they’re wider than they are tall and it’s also re-jigged its Friendstream app. Nevertheless, the results are a little bit mixed and Android just doesn’t flow as easily as it does on portrait devices. This is especially true of the native apps, such as Gmail. Flicking through your list of emails is fine, but when you go to read a message or compose a new email, there’s not a lot of space available. Nevertheless, you do grow a bit more accustomed to the landscape display the more you use the phone.
The handset is built around a Qualcomm MSM7227 processor running at 800Mhz, and it has 512MB of Rom and 512MB of RAM. It runs Android V2.3.3, but unfortunately the slower processor means that Flash content isn’t supported in the browser, which is a bit of a shame. Obviously the ChaCha’s doesn’t feel as lightning-quick as the likes of the Incredible S, but things still move along at a pretty sprightly pace all the same, so it’s far from sluggish.
When it comes to connectivity, the phone has pretty much all the bases covered. It’s a quadband handset, so you can use it in most countries around the world, and HSPA mobile internet is supported for fast data access. There’s also Wireless n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth V3.0 support as well. Call quality was generally very good and the curved profile of the phone means it actually feels pretty comfortable when you hold it up to your face. However, battery life is definitely not one of its strong points. The handset uses a relatively small capacity 1250mAh battery, so you usually find yourself having to charge it up at the end of each day.
There are two cameras mounted on the front and rear, so it can be used for video calling. The rear camera has a 5.0megapixel resolution and the HTC camera software has some extra features such as touch to focus. The snapper also has an LED flash mounted next to it which helps out greatly when it comes to taking snaps indoors. In general, photos look pretty good with sharp detail and pretty accurate colours. They stand up well to scrutiny when they’re transferred to a PC, too. You can also use it to shoot video at resolutions up to 720 x 480, so it falls a bit short of 720p quality. Nevertheless, videos actually look reasonably impressive and movement is well handled.
The HTC ChaCha has many likeable features. Its keyboard is first class, the Facebook integration is good and the camera is better than you might have expected. However, we’re still not convinced that the messaging form factor works all that well with the Android OS. That said, if we were to pick an Android messaging phone from those currently available, the ChaCha would definitely be the one we’d go for.