The signature HTC aluminium unibody is elegant and solid though its retro styling is - as usual - a polarising design. The Facebook button that is the phone's USP is noticeable without being obnoxious.
Facebook integration is the heart of the Salsa and it all works dead-simply via the Facebook button - press in the browser or gallery and you can share the site or photo directly to the social network site. Android Gingerbread with HTC's new Sense interface combine to make a smartphone that's incredibly easy to use and set up too.
The five-megapixel camera is modest but is fine for uploading photos. This is a mid-range smartphone with the full lineup of web and email features, and its LCD screen is of a decent resolution for the price too.
The touch-screen keyboard is responsive and quick, while navigation is intuitive and smooth. However, the 800MHz processor isn't lightning fast, and as a result in-browser Flash video is far too jerky to watch.
Top-notch, with its 1,520mAh battery powering the phone through a day and beyond before needing a charge.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/13/2011 10:03:07 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Facebook, Twitter and Flickr integration is brilliant and simple to navigate
Screen isn?t as impressive as the iPhone 4 or Samsung?s Galaxy S II, and it's a bit on the slow side and Flash video is technically supported but plays jerkily in-browser
You might be forgiven for rolling your eyes at the idea of a Facebook phone. They'll be making films about it next. Cynicism aside, the youth market loves social media, and it was only a matter of time before the mobile world jumped on the concept and tried to add their own stamp. Step forward the HTC Salsa - a compact handset with Facebook integration firmly at its heart but with enough going on to be worth a serious look in its own right.
The first thing that strikes you about the HTC Salsa is its size. The handset has a generous 3.4-inch touch-screen but appears more compact that some of its peers. At just under half an inch thick and weighing only 120g, it's pleasantly petite to hold. The now-signature HTC aluminium unibody nonetheless feels solid and includes a few darker plastic panels on the rear of the phone giving a kind of granny's patchwork quilt effect that you'll either hate or find endearing. Unlike its QWERTY-packing stablemate, the ChaCha, the HTC Salsa is a fully touch-screen handset - search, home screen and back functions all appear on the bottom of the display. The only physical buttons are an adjustable volume rocker, welcome camera button and the all-important Facebook button on its bottom lip. It's noticeable without being obnoxious, which was probably the fear many had after hearing the phrase 'Facebook phone'. Overall it's an elegantly designed handset which manages to feel dinky and substantial at the same time, making some of its fellows look a tad bloated.
Social networking is the beating heart of this phone. With a satisfying click of the Facebook button you can post a status update to your wall, or any friend's wall you choose, with just a few taps. If you spend your nights out looking down the lens of your camera phone, uploading snaps or video to Facebook is just as simple. The HTC Salsa also allows you to backup your photos to the site, which might not be the best idea if you're the type to veto bad pictures.
Pressing the handy little 'F' button also lets you share whatever track you're listening to on the Salsa's media player with your Facebook posse. Just be careful it isn't anything too embarrassing.
Sync your contacts and you'll also find your Facebook friends in your contact book, and their birthdays handily entered into your calendar - perfect if the site is usually the one to tell you this information in the first place.
HTC users may be familiar with the Friend Stream widget which channels your Facebook, Twitter and Flickr timelines, posts and interactions into one area giving you a real time view of your social circle's comings and goings - a godsend to the nosy social butterfly. You can then filter these into groups, such as status updates, photo and video content, or links.
There's a built-in Facebook Chat app, but be mindful of closing it down or going offline; the app has a tendency to default to online mode so, depending on how loquacious your contacts are, you might find a few open chat windows the next time you login via the web.
All these diverse functions aim to give you a real-time overview of your virtual social life. A neat little notification bar on the top left of the screen is another area which brings what's happening across your networks, synched email accounts and SMS together. It's a little taste of Minority Report-style omniscience that lets you feel like the king (or queen) of your own little castle, at least in a social space.
What the Salsa gets bang on is the immediacy of social networking. If you're browsing the web and find a fun link or video you want to share, pressing the Facebook button automatically drags that link to the 'post' function. That kind of slick, intuitive posting is immensely appealing for those who simply have to be the first to share a link. You can even change the link's thumbnail and add a comment just as you would via the web - it's an extra level of detail that shows how much thought has gone into bringing the Facebook functions to life. Whether you're posting pictures, video, or links, these are quick to master and simple to execute - an ethos which encapsulates the spirit of the phone itself.
While Facebook integration is the USP of the HTC Salsa, it's also a great mid-range Android handset which runs on the latest Android OS, Gingerbread 2.3.3 and the latest iteration of the HTC Sense user interface. HTC Sense is incredibly easy to use and personalise, and the built-in apps cover near enough everything you'd want - FM radio player, YouTube browser, Google Maps, News and Weather feeds and access to over 300,000 apps via the Android Market.
Existing Android users will be familiar with the seven customisable home screens, ready to be filled with whatever apps, folders and shortcuts are deemed essential. The five-megapixel rear camera takes modest pictures compared to higher-end smartphones, but it's ideal for quick uploads to social networks. The Salsa is also capable of recording 480p (720x480) video and has a front-facing VGA camera for video calling.
With a mid-range smartphone, you might expect a less-than-stellar screen. While by no means as impressive as a Super AMOLED or Retina Display, the 320x480 pixel LCD screen packs a punch: the colours are bright, but you may need to pinch-to-zoom a little on webpages.
The battery life is also top-notch - the 1,520mAh battery lasts throughout the day and beyond, on a single charge. The onscreen keyboard is responsive, making posts and updates a breeze. The HTC Salsa isn't going to win over anyone lusting after anything and everything dual-core. The 800MHz processor isn't lightning fast, but it doesn't really need to be. However the slower processor does make in-browser Flash unsupportable.
The HTC Salsa aims to bring Facebook to the heart of the user experience while still being a great all-rounder, and it achieves exactly that. Its features are geared towards making your virtual social interactions fluid and simple, encouraging you to share more and giving a real-time overview of your network of contacts. It's not only a great social phone, but also a great Android phone with a great battery life, impressive display and choice selection of in-built apps and features to keep you entertained. In short, it's the must-have phone for anyone whose inner monologue speaks entirely in status updates.