High-end smartphones are continually offering more conspicuous integration with social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Apparently all of us want to get down with the kids these days.
However, if you’re looking for a phone that doesn’t lock you into an expensive two-year contract, getting this sort of functionality can prove expensive – although not if the INQ Mini 3G has anything to say on the matter.
Even by prepay standards, the Mini 3G is cheap at £60, but it comes with integrated Facebook, Twitter, Skype and IM apps, as well as supporting push email services, such as Google Mail.
So, in order to make the most of the Mini 3G, you’ll really need to sign up to 3’s Mobile Internet service, as 3 is the only network to release the phone in the UK at present, like the original INQ1.
Plus, as it also comes with 3G connectivity and HSDPA support, a rarity at this price point, browsing speeds are very respectable too.
The sense that the Mini 3G belies its price point in almost every aspect continues with the form of the device itself. It’s a slim candy bar handset that’s got none of the plasticky feel of some other low-priced phones. Its body is buffed up to a high shine, apart from the keypad, but still manages to look relatively tasteful and neutral.
The ability to customise the look of the Mini 3G’s menus would have been a strong addition, but they’re simple to use, if perhaps a little exuberant for some tastes. You can change the rear covers on the phone, however, to give a personalised look – with a range of smart metallic finishes in loads of colours.
Perhaps the greatest surprise of the Mini 3G though, is the screen. It uses an everyday 240×320 pixel (QVGA) display, but the brightness and sharpness are such that I’d have expected this from a device at least twice the price.
It’s a massive plus point if you’re planning on using the Mini 3G’s connected features too, as it makes reading web pages and text far more palatable. If there’s any complaint about the screen in general, it is that some of the text is rather small and could prove difficult to read if your eyesight isn’t in perfect form.
The functionality is not without its hitches, mind. Moving through the menu and social network apps isn’t seamlessly fluid, demonstrating that – obviously – the Mini 3G isn’t packing the processing power of an iPhone 3GS or HTC Hero for example.
In addition to the integrated support of Facebook and Twitter, the INQ Mini 3G continues on from the INQ1 by collecting contacts and messages from Facebook and integrating it within your inbox and phonebook.
You can merge any duplicate contacts, and see the latest status update from your list of contacts. It’s almost identical to the services now offered by Palm on the Pre, or Motorola with the DEXT Android phone, but care to look at the difference in price? There’s no contest.
I was also not entirely enamoured with the keypad. Although the touch feedback is very strong, with a solid click on each press that gives you an extra feeling of confidence, it is more about the positioning of the keys themselves that concerned me. The lowest row of keys isn’t entirely comfortable to use, feeling like its almost falling off the bottom of the handset.
Strangely, the three bottom keys even feel different when pressed, as if they’re working off a separate underlying mechanism to the other keys. However, you’re likely to get used to the keypad quirks after a relatively short time.
Elsewhere, the Mini 3G hasn’t managed to escape quite as well from the constraints of a budget price. The camera only has 2-megapixels to play with, which is down on INQ’s first phone that had a 3.2-megapixel camera. There’s still no flash either.
The Mini 3G camera will do fine for uploading to the sorts of online networks featured in the Mini 3G, but don’t go expecting much more.
The fact that the Mini 3G manages to squeeze so much into phone that we’d normally only see in a device a few steps up the cost ladder is an impressive achievement, and exactly what INQ Mobile claims to be all about.
Match it with the right tariff, including the option of an exclusive INQ-only £15 tariff if you choose to buy this on contract that includes loads of calls, texts, Internet and Skype calling, and the INQ Mini 3G is an absolute bargain that will keep your busy social life in trim without breaking the bank.
The INQ Mini 3G is one of the very best phones available
at its price point. It’s got a robust, fairly attractive body and a screen that trumps almost every other handset available at the price. However, you’ll need to sign up for some Mobile Internet allowance to make the most of this phone, since its other key stand-out features revolve around connected elements. Built-in Facebook, Twitter and IM apps take centre stage. However, even if you’ve no intention of using any of these features, the INQ Mini 3G is still a great choice.