Screen quality is generally the key area that lets down smaller or more budget oriented phones but the HTC Salsa eschews this trend. By no means is it the biggest or best but the 3.4in LCD produces punchy colours, pumps out plenty of brightness and isn't too bad when it comes to black levels. Even viewing angles are impressive, with minimal colour and contrast shift. The 320 x 480 pixel resolution is a bit low but it's enough to maintain a satisfactory smartphone experience – you'll just have to zoom in and out a bit more on webpages.
The size of the screen is also not a problem for typing. Smaller screens can feel a bit cramped for using onscreen keyboards, and indeed the Salsa might be a struggle for those with large digits, but we found no issues whatsoever with the typing experience. Keys responded accurately and rapidly, word prediction is excellent and the custom HTC text editing features are excellent, making it really easy to select text and chop and change it through cut and paste.
Helping in this regard is the phone's overall speed. Despite having just a 600MHz processor, it feels generally responsive and fluid. There's a bit of choppiness when navigating around – it's particularly noticeable when scrolling – but this is common on most slower Android phones, and here is much less noticeable.
No doubt helping keeping things ticking along rapidly is the HTC tweaked Android 2.3.3 operating system. As well as integrating the Facebook features, HTC has made a host of changes to the already feature packed and speedy Android OS. These include the new lock screen that lets you launch programs straight away simply by dragging the icons into the grey circle – you can change which apps you want quick access to.
As ever, you get seven homescreens to fill with widgets, apps and folders of apps while along the bottom are shortcuts for opening the main menu/app launcher, the phone dialler/contacts, and the homescreen settings. The latter lets you quickly set wallpaper, change theme, add widgets or change those lock screen apps, among other things.
Tap the Phone button and you're presented with, unsurprisingly, a dialler, while above it is you contacts list. Starting typing a number or spelling out a name and it will dynamically match contacts as you type, or you can just grab the contacts list and start scrolling.
Another neat feature is the notifications area that with a swipe drops down from the top edge. As well as showing all your latest emails and other updates, it displays your recent apps, and if you tap the tab at the bottom it'll get you quick access to settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Hotspot, GPS, Mobile Network, and All Settings. These few additions, shared with most HTC phones, raise the Salsa above most Android alternatives – HTC has actually thought about usability rather than change for changes sake.
With Android already being a powerful and capable OS, this makes the Salsa a true bonefide smartphone. There's GoogleMaps and Google Navigation to find your way, an FM Radio for keeping you entertained en route, and with access to the hundreds of thousands of apps on the MarketPlace, you can keep it well stocked with other games and apps.