Rumours of a true Facebook phone have been bandied around for ages, but last year Mark Zuckerberg put paid to the idea when he announced the company would never make a Facebook phone. However, it turns out he was being somewhat economical with the truth. While Facebook itself hasn't released a phone, it has let other companies create them, and the first to hit our test bench is the HTC Salsa.
It's no surprise that with Facebook at its core, HTC is marketing this as a device for the youth market, rather than to all us serious smartphone users that would never dream of spending hours on end perusing their friend's photos and exchanging wall posts. As such, the Salsa is a smaller more budget oriented smartphone, though being made by HTC it still has more than a touch of class. Well, if you like purple, that is.
In truth, you're more likely to find your Salsa in a grey and black colour scheme but we've been sent the purple one just 'cause that's how we roll.
For a purple phone, it looks very elegant with the now almost signature HTC stylings of an anodised aluminium body with a few soft touch plastic sections on the back, this time in two different shades of darker purple. As ever, the glass screen fills most of the front, and is surrounded by a fairly narrow black bezel with four touch buttons at its base. Meanwhile the bottom of the phone has a slight lip to it, harking back to other budget HTC handsets like the Wildfire S and Legend. It's a simple design but it works, managing to look elegant yet quirky at the same time.
There are a few additions too. Most obviously there's the Facebook button that – again showing the HTC engineers' eye for design – sits just to the right of centre on the bottom lip. It's a physical button with a good tactile click so you're always sure when you've pressed it, though there's an argument for saying it's at odds with the other touch buttons. We'll come onto what this button does for you a little later on.
Also new is the camera button on the right edge. We've long campaigned for these to become a standard feature – with Apple even taking onboard the idea in its latest iOS 5 update – but that's not yet happened for standard Android phones. Instead, it has taken the addition of Facebook branding for HTC to squeeze this feature in, and very welcome it is too. It's a dual step design so you can focus with a half press and take your snap when you depress it fully. The camera itself shoots 5 megapixel stills and 480p (720 x 480) video, and includes an LED flash/lamp.
Also on the back is the speaker while up top is the headphone jack and power/screen lock button and the left is home to the volume rocker. The lack of any pinholes in the body, bar one on the bottom edge, gives away the fact this phone doesn't have in-call noise cancelling. It does at least have the little LED in its earpiece grille that lets you know when you've got a message or if the phone is charging.
Being a smaller phone, it's no surprise that it fits comfortably in the hand. The angled bottom edge is mostly a design feature but does actually make it easier to hold the phone in landscape to take a picture. All told, it's a very nice device to have and to hold.