London-based mobile phone manufacturer INQ has collaborated with Facebook on phones optimized for the social networking site, and the results are the Android-based INQ Cloud Touch and INQ Cloud Q, which will be unveiled next week. The INQ phones confirm many of the rumours about a so-called ‘Facebook phone.’
The phones are built for 18-28 year old young people who use Facebook as their primary means of communication, according to the INQ. The home screen comes with a feed for seeing friends’ updates, pictures, videos and web pages.
“It was never intended to be a Facebook phone. But Facebook has been very heavily involved with it and it’s been a collaborative process,” INQ’s co-founder Ken Johnstone said.
The 600 million social network is “everywhere” on INQ’s new range. Booting up the phone for the first time, you’re invited to log in to a Wi-Fi connection and then invited to log in to Facebook. If Facebook isn’t for you, INQ’s new range isn’t for you.
“Writing on a [Facebook] wall is as easy as sending text messages,” says Ken Johnstone, INQ’s co-founder. If any firm was to build a ‘Facebook phone’, it would be INQ – the three-year-old company which made its name through integration with social platforms including Windows Live Messenger and Skype.
There are one-touch links to Facebook Chat, Friends, Messages, Wall and Notifications. Facebook Events, which allows users to let people in their community know about upcoming events, will pop up in the Google calendar on both phones, according to INQ.
INQ Cloud Touch and INQ Cloud Q phones use version 2.2 of Android. Smartphones and social networking have had a mutually beneficial relationship. Today, there are more than 200 million active users accessing Facebook through their mobile devices, according to Facebook.
“We think this is the opposite to what everyone else is doing. A lot of Android phones I love but they’re all quite complicated, all noise, and very much alike. We wanted to deliver the authentic Facebook experience,” said Ken Johnstone.
The INQ Cloud Touch and INQ Cloud Q also come with streaming music service Spotify integrated; users can access the service’s application via a dedicated key.
To use Spotify on mobile phones, users have to sign up and pay a monthly fee for the Premium service, which is currently available in Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. If Spotify isn’t available, the client can still be used as a local music player.
The INQ Cloud Touch is powered by a Qualcomm 7227 chipset that clocks in at 600MHz, a far cry from the 1GHz Snapdragon devices on the market today. The phone also features a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera, GPS, a 1300mAh battery and a microSD card slot.
The phone will be available in the U.K from April, through The Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy on most major operators. The company is still negotiating with carriers over a U.S. release. It is expected to be free on a £20 (US$32) monthly contract, according to INQ. Pricing without a contract is not available at this time.