The INQ Cloud Touch sports a 3.5in screen. That’s the same number of inches seen in the iPhone, and it offers a good compromise between size and portability. It’s big enough to make typing, playing games and watching the occasional video comfortable without causing your pocket a problem – some find larger phones like the 4.3in HTC Desire HD simply too big.
It’s a standard TFT panel rather than a fancier AMOLED or SLCD model, but brightness is good and colours are vivid enough. This isn’t a particularly high-end display though, with some odd pixel texturing sometimes visible when you’re looking at a largely white screen – when web browsing for instance.
With a 320×480-pixel resolution, text isn’t as sharp as on the budget WVGA (800×480) Orange San Francisco – but then that is a rare stand-out device in offering such a high pixel-density screen at a low price-point. By normal mid-range phone standards, sharpness is good – better than on the lower-resolution HTC Wildfire.
The touchscreen uses a capacitive panel, the most popular type these days, and the kind designed for use with a finger rather than a stylus. It’s responsive and accurate – not up there with the best perhaps, but then this phone costs a fraction of what you’d pay for an iPhone 4 or HTC HD7.
The good touchscreen and quick Android 2.2 OS pal-up to make everyday usage a joy. Start installing apps and you’re bound to see the odd annoying crash screen, but the same is true of any Android phone.
That said, like walking around a town centre, stray to the outskirts of the Cloud Touch’s feature list and things start to look a little ghetto. The 5-megapixel camera offers autofocus, but doesn’t have a flash and results are poor. Low-light performance in particular is atrocious – check out our camera test shots page for evidence. At least it offers Facebook (alongside other options including Twitter) uploads from within the camera app – a must-have for any social network-centric smartphone – although you may occasionally produce shots you feel like apologising for rather than showing off.
No video playing capabilities have been added to the Cloud Touch beyond the basics of H.264/H.263/MP4. While the screen is big enough to watch a half-hour TV episode on, the phone’s not ready to oblige fresh out of the box. There are dedicated media player apps available on the Android Market to fill this gap. However, audio output isn’t entirely clean, with some noise audible during playback of quieter music.
Battery life is more of a sticking point. It’ll last a full day quite comfortably with occasional use, but start browsing or chatting online and the battery level drops very rapidly. We indulged in a spot of Facebook chatting over 3G and saw the battery drop from 30 per cent to next-to-nothing in less than an hour – keep that charger handy.
The INQ Cloud Touch is available for free on contracts of Â£20 and above, meaning it competes with other budget Androids like the Samsung Galaxy Ace, HTC Wildfire and Motorola Defy. Against this crowd, the Cloud Touch holds its own – especially if you’re a Spotify user. However, as older-generation devices like the HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and HTC Legend begin to slip off shelves, there are some cracking deals available for these more desirable handsets if you shop around online.
All Android phones know how to roll Facebook-style, but the INQ Cloud Touch can bust out those moves better than most. If you’re a Facebook fanatic with a Spotify subscription, it’ll accompany your lifestyle perfectly. For the rest, it’s just another affordable Android phone – a good one, mind. Mediocre battery life, some of INQ’s added styling and the rubbish camera mean it falls short of greatness, but it can hold its head up high on the streets of Android town – in the budget district at least.
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