Picture 5 A review of the INQ Chat 3G phone, the self proclaimed Ultimate Social ToolINQ Mobile calls INQ Chat 3G the “ultimate social tool”. The center of this device is keeping users constantly connected with push email and built-in social network apps for Facebook and Twitter – it is easy to forget it’s also a phone.

At first glance, the INQ Chat 3G looks as though it could be a BlackBerry, in the layout of the full QWERTY keyboard, the design and even its shape. When you look a bit closer, you’ll see that it looks a tad cheaper and feels more plasticy than any BlackBerry you’ve ever held. The back covers are removable and collectable, they come in multiple flashy colours like neon pink and electric yellow, so this device also has a funky, groovy sorta look. Nevertheless, this ICQ device is in the BlackBerry family of mobile devices as far as appearance goes.

The screen is much smaller than what I’m used to coming from an iPhone but the 2.4-inch screen with QVGA display isn’t too shabby. Not for doing what this device is meant to do anyways. In other words, if you chatting with friends, sending texts and updating twitter, using the 2.4-inch display is tolerable.

INQ’s user interface doesn’t make for the most intuitive experience and takes a bit of time to get a handle on the navigation buttons. It does however have a have quite a few “social” tools and features for the super-connected user. The contact list can be sync’d with up to 1000 people that can apparently be imported from Facebook only. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see the import happen, a few hundred contacts from Facebook took to so long I had to finally give up on the import process.

The messages app nicely integrates updates from multiple sources in one place; Twitter (direct messages), Facebook inbox messages, Facebook pokes and emails. The messages can be set to push to the desktop along with email and widgets that update on the desktop in real-time. Aside from Twitter and Facebook there’s a series of apps pre-installed including; RSS reader, Opera Mini 5 (browser) and Windows Live Messaging. All of the apps are located in a row on the bottom of the screen in for quick access.

inqmobile A review of the INQ Chat 3G phone, the self proclaimed Ultimate Social Tool

Under the hood there’s a Li-Polymer 1500mAH battery, SIM & MircoSD slot and a USB modem for tethering the device with laptops and notebooks. It’s also got a 3.2 MP back-facing camera that isn’t really not worth noting, however the images it takes can be shared directly via email, text or to facebook/twitter.

INQ 3G Chat is available for $150 through Koodoo Mobile . To see where you can get one in your country check out the store listings.

The Bottom Line: I wouldn’t call this the “ultimate social tool” due to the fact that there’s only contact integration with one social network; Facebook. Furthermore the process of importing contacts is frustrating and time-consuming. And, I would think an “ultimate” social tool would have more apps for different social networks aside from just 2 or 3. I personally wouldn’t use this device because I’ve already graduated to more sophisticated smartphones – yes, the iPhone being one. I’m thinking it might make a pretty decent starter phone for someone new to gadgets or someone who “just” wants to stay in touch and doesn’t require the need run intensive apps on their device.