Mobile phone users will be able to update their Facebook status, send instant messages, check their email and access Twitter on a new handset that offers ‘always on’ web connectivity.
The INQ Chat has a Qwerty keyboard, a 3.2-megapixel camera, 4GB of memory and built-in GPS, and it uses the 3G mobile phone network for high speed web access. Users will be able to synchronise their iTunes music library with the device, and transfer music, photos and movies stored on their computer on to the phone.
Unlike other devices, such as the Apple iPhone, which require users to open an application in order to check their Facebook status or send a ‘tweet’ on Twitter, the Chat runs all of its social media applications in the background, allowing users to see their Twitter feed as it updates, or have an instant-messaging conversation with friends in real time.
In addition to instant access to services such as Facebook and Twitter, INQ Chat owners will also be able to use Skype on their phone to make free calls to other Skype users. If they use Google’s web-based email service, Gmail, they will also get BlackBerry-style ‘push’ email, so messages are sent straight to their mobile phone at the same time as they hit their computer inbox.
And the phone’s address book pulls in contacts from across the user’s social networking profile, meaning that Facebook friends appear alongside Twitter contacts, enabling users to see live status updates for all of those people, and choose how they want to contact them.
Frank Meehan, the chief executive of INQ, said the Chat was a “social mobile” and would appeal to a broad range of consumers.
“We build phones that focus specifically on what people want to do most on their mobiles,” he said. “We have completely broken the vice-like grip that high-end smartphones have had on great mobile internet experiences, and made them available to everybody.”
The INQ Chat and another similar device, the INQ Mini, are expected to go on sale in September. The handsets will initially be available exclusively on the 3 network, although pricing and tariff information are yet to be announced. However, INQ Chat users are expected to get unlimited data use as part of their contract, meaning they won’t incur any additional charges for ‘always-on’ Twitter and Facebook access.