A new breed of phone is emerging. They look and feel just like their normal mobile brethren, but with one key difference - these phones have a dedicated social networking button. The HTC ChaCha, HTC Salsa, iNQ Cloud Touch and Vodafone 555 are all phones geared towards Facebook users, but the 555 is the cheapest of the lot.
This phone is available for just over £60 on a pre-pay deal, and its main hardware focus is typing. It offers a full physical Qwerty keyboard on its front, which invites comparisons to both a BlackBerry and HTC's recently-released ChaCha Facebook phone.
The latter is particularly pertinent, as the pair even have the same finish - a mix of metallic silver and white. In this case though, the phone is made entirely of plastic. In the Vodafone 555's defence though, it would be unrealistic to expect any metal body bits at this price.
There's a single design aberration to this otherwise ok-looking device. The volume rocker on the left edge is a vivid blue colour. It's not even the traditional Facebook hue, so why it's there in a sea of white and silver is a mystery to us. It looks out of place. It looks wrong, and it should be de-friended immediately.
It's a shame because the Facebook button, a natural target for outrage, looks perfectly tasteful nestled within the Qwerty keyboard. It's decked out with the Facebook logo, but isn't given undue dominance, being the same size as the surrounding character keys.
Up top is a 3.5mm headphone jack, while on the right edge of the phone is the microUSB socket, used to transfer data and charge the device. There is a microSD slot too, but this is hidden under the battery cover and so doesn't disturb the 555's curves.
Aside from the blue volume rocker, the Vodafone 555 has a consistent look. The keyboard's too boxy to look attractive, but we've seen worse-looking budget phones. Think of it as an HTC ChaCha formulated by communist state designers and you're on the money. And at 12mm thick, it only has a little puppy fat - considering the built-in Qwerty keyboard.
The specs inside the thing are very basic though. It uses a feature phone UI - ruling out a proper app store and advanced web browser - has no 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity and relies on physical controls rather than a touchscreen. Aside from the keyboard, there's a small optical trackpad used to navigate the interface and a couple of soft keys that function as select and back buttons.