We've seen a lot of phones over the last week at Mobile World Congress, and a good few of them have been launched by HTC.
Leaving aside the largely inoffensive – and largely uninspiring – S Triplets of Incredible, Desire and Wildfire fame, the big news was the launch of a pair of HTC 'Facebook phones'. And while I have no issue with the full touchscreen Salsa, I do have to wonder what the company was thinking when designing its clunky brother, the ChaCha.
This isn't about either of their value as mobile phones – let's clear that up now. If you want a special glowing button to remind you Facebook is there all the time, good for you. The rest of us still get our Facebook homescreen widgets anyway.
No, this is purely about design. As pointed out on ElectricPig, the ChaCha can trace its legacy back to the HTC 2010 roadmap leaked in grand style on the XDA Developers Forum some 15 months ago.
Back then, curiously, it was codenamed the Salsa, but still looked very much like the QWERTY-wielding handset HTC was hiding under glass at its stand at MWC. The roadmap leak promised it would be “great for social networking as it fully supports all well known social networking sites”. Indeed.
The problem, though, is that even at the end of 2009 it looked ugly. Today, that prototype design looks both ugly and old, aesthetically a combination of an early BlackBerry and a Nokia E-Series phone on a bad hair day. And that slightly curved styling doesn't work either on a device so broad and thin.
Sure, the final product looks better, but not massively so. The Sense UI looks overcrowded, that thick black screen surround distracts and the slightly bulbous top half makes the ChaCha look vaguely fly-ish.
Of course, HTC will no doubt still sell billions of the thing just because it's linked so openly to the all-conquering social network, but I can't see too many people buying one cos it looks nice. For that, you're far better off with the Salsa. It's a better dance, anyway.