With no new handsets for the whole of 2010, it seemed like INQ Mobile had a questionable future. Then we heard about the launch of two new handsets with Facebook and Spotify. Suddenly things are looking quite rosy. Here’s our review of the first…
INQ Mobile doesn’t have a very long list of handsets to its name, nor has it had any network other than Three selling them. Despite being under the radar to many people, the company has had a part to play in shaping the current smartphone market.
How you ask? You might think I’m crazy for suggesting a relatively small player, with limited distribution and only a few handsets released in the last three years, could be given the credit that would normally be given to the likes of Apple, HTC or Samsung.
Well, before INQ was formed, the same company was behind the 3Skypephone. As the mobile operators were generally trying to prevent users from using VoIP services, Three embraced it.
The launch phone for INQ Mobile, the INQ1, not only continued to support Skype but then made Facebook a fully integrated experience. Users could now match up Facebook friends with their phonebook, see status updates for each contact and get new messages in a single inbox. Photos from friends could be viewed within the gallery, and their latest profile picture seen when making a call.
With Skype, last.fm, push email support and other integrated services, the INQ1 was ahead of its time. The problem was that the phone was quite slow and not blessed with thousands, or even hundreds, of apps. It was cheap, however, and came with excellent tariffs built specifically for the handset.
Nevertheless, by the time the Mini 3G and Chat 3G came on the scene, smartphones were becoming affordable and copying all the ideas that INQ had introduced.
In 2010, INQ Mobile had no new handsets at all, making us wonder if it was the end of the company. Now we know it wasn’t, as the company has come back with the INQ Cloud Touch; its first ‘proper’ smartphone. By embracing the open Android platform, the company can still do its own thing, while having the huge collection of apps Android has on offer. The Cloud Touch comes with Android 2.2.
The company has kept to its roots by avoiding the temptation to just make another black slab that will get lost amongst the crowd. The phone can be picked up in a range of bright colours, and it keeps the large INQ logo branding on the rear to make it stand out. It even uses the ‘Q’ as the home button.
What’s more, there are some clever tweaks to give you a more unique user experience. There’s a decent sized screen (3.5-inch), with a good resolution (320×480 pixels) and a 600MHz processor that keeps things ticking over nicely. It’s not a top-end phone, but nor is at the low-end. If you’re expecting dual-core processors running at 1GHz and above, you’ll have to look elsewhere – but that’s not what this phone is about.