INQ launches serious threat to BlackBerry with Chat 3G

What Mobile
August 3, 2009

The Chat 3G has a well designed QWERTY keyboard, just like any of its competitor products, with two shift keys and a nice wide space bar. INQ was supposedly ‘blown away’ by how many users were writing with just a normal keypad, prompting Frank Meehan, INQ’s CEO, to suggest that the keyboard “will go down a storm”.

If you’re not convinced by the bright red metallic battery cover, the phone also has changeable covers – with a range of colours being offered soon after launch. INQ is also considering selling covers in packs of three. We saw a range of colours, including a bright yellow one with red logo, and were particularly impressed with the quality of the metallic finish.

INQ Chat 3G (left) pictured against the new INQ Mini 3G

What Mobile believes the main reason for the success of the Chat 3G will be a price that is even more competitive than BlackBerry’s recently announced 8520. The 8520 also lacks 3G, while the Chat 3G offers both 3G and HSDPA (but no Wi-Fi).

Although no serious threat to the higher-end models (or indeed the many businesses that rely on more than just the BlackBerry device, with secure email and expensive enterprise servers being equally vital) or services like the BlackBerry App World, the Chat 3G is targeting itself at a younger market, as well as those who are most cost-conscious. The total cost of ownership is going to be considerably lower than equivalent offerings, yet with similar functionality (some might also consider the tight integration of various services to put the INQ handsets ahead of the more expensive models).

Like the INQ1 (which continues to be on sale for the time being), the phone continues to offer full integration with Skype and Facebook, plus the new addition of Twitter, with easy access via the Switcher key. Email will continue to work with 3’s own email service, but the updated email client also works with the IMAP IDLE protocol – which translated into layman’s terms means push email. Services that support IMAP IDLE include Google Mail, which is completely free to set up – and can operate with your existing POP3 or IMAP email account. This means instant email with no special setup or additional BlackBerry service fees.

Multitasking ensures that every application is running all the time, so you don’t need to switch or load applications periodically to check the latest tweets or status updates. Once you connect your contacts with Facebook and Twitter, you’ll also see the latest messages connected to each of your friends in the active address book.

The phone can also play your music and videos, and to make it easy to manage your music there’s now support for DoubleTwist – which can sync music from iTunes and Windows Live Messenger. You can also manage photos and videos – and store them on a microSDHC memory card (not supplied). INQ states that they’ve tested the Chat 3G with cards up to 4GB in capacity, but we can’t see any reason for it not to work just fine with 8, 16 or 32GB capacities too.

Users wishing to connect their netbook or PC to the Internet will be pleased to know that the INQ Chat 3G continues to operate in a ‘dongle’ mode when hooked up via USB. PC and Mac users will also find that the necessary drivers are installed automatically when connected to their computer for the first time.

The Chat 3G has a 2.4-inch QVGA resolution (320×240 pixel) display, integrated GPS (with Google Maps) and a 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera without flash. The phone will operate with Java and Brew 4.0 applications.

The Chat 3G is due for release in Q4 on 3, with other networks to be announced before the end of the year – although we’re not sure which of the other networks might be interested in something that bypasses a number of traditional revenue streams!

Finally, if you noticed we didn’t mention support (available on the INQ1) then it’s because INQ has dropped support for it. No word on support for eBay as once promised for the INQ1 – so we have to assume that this has been quietly dropped before it even arrived!

More info:

See also: INQ Mini 3G


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