INQ Cloud Touch in-depth review -

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Look and feel

Available in three colours (red and white) the plastic body both looks and feels on the cheap side. The display is a little dour due to the low pixelation and resolution

Ease of use

A tactile touch-screen with an innovative keyboard, the INQ Cloud Touch is preloaded with a number of useful apps to get even the most novice of smartphone users up and running

Features

Full Facebook integration is at the heart and soul of the phone, but it’s also jam packed with the likes of HSDPA, Wi-Fi, Opera Mini, a five-megapixel camera and an Android 2.2 operating system

Performance

The social networking credentials are top-notch, as are the sat nav credentials, though the camera is nothing more than average. Though it runs on Android 2.2, it will be upgradeable to Gingerbread in the future

Battery life

With so much going on, expect a drain on the phones battery life. The good news is the info bar will let you know exactly how much juice you have left in terms of hours and even minutes

 INQ Cloud Touch Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/13/2011 10:03:26 AM

8

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

4

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Facebook is fully integrated, with shortcuts to specific profiles, Facebook Chat, messages and news updates, while Spotify is the default music player

Cons:

The plastic bodywork leads to a cheap look and feel

We here at Mobile Choice HQ have long admired INQ. While more established manufacturers dipped their toes in the social networking pool, INQ plunged headfirst. Of course, these days any smartphone worth its salt has some kind of integrated social networking feed. But the term 'Facebook phone' has never been more apt – the INQ Cloud Touch is how social networking on a mobile phone should be done.

Look and feel

Before we get down and dirty with the social networking aspects of the INQ Cloud Touch, let’s take a look at the shell. We’ll be frank – it’s not the phones strongest element. Available in three striking colours, red and white, the shades do nothing to distract from the plastic look and feel. It’s a decent size, fits well in the hand and features a spacious 3.5-inch touch-display, but it just doesn’t feel as robust as some other smartphones, and if we were to buy this phone we’d recommend buying some kind of protective case.

 

Directly below the display is a mirrored bar with three icons etched on to it that symbolise three touch-keys. From left to right you have a menu key that relates to whatever feature you’re in, a home key in the shape of INQ’s ‘Q’ logo, and a back key. As specified, they’re all touch-sensitive (i.e. they’re not raised) but the bar is wide enough and there’s a short vibrating pulse each time you press any of the icons, so you shouldn’t have any problem mastering this navigational aspect of the phone.

On the outside edges of the phone INQ has included some interesting shortcut keys. At the top is a familiar power/lock button, 3.5mm headset port and a microUSB port. On the right-hand side you’ll find volume keys and a quick fire key for your music player. But this is not any old music player. No siree, for the Cloud Touch’s native music player is in fact powered by Spotify. Not only can you subscribe to the Premium Service for unlimited music streaming (£9.99 a month), but any music you sideload onto the device will automatically be stored in Spotify’s library and played through its music player. Of course, Spotify is available as a downloadable app on other Android phones (yes, the Cloud Touch runs on Google’s operating system) as well as the iPhone, but having all your music stored in one place makes life a whole lot easier.

 

On the adjacent side of the phone is the information key that brings up a colourful display with toggles for the likes of GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as letting you know how much memory you have available. It also displays the battery life for both talktime and music in terms of hours and minutes.  A word of caution – when holding the phone it easy to accidentally nudge these side keys and fire up the music player, which is particularly galling when have some embarrassing tunes stored on your device.

TouchType

The display looks a little dour, with a poorer resolution than you might anticipate. However, it’s important to remember that despite its credentials, the INQ Cloud Touch still firmly falls into the 'affordable' price category, so INQ needed to skimp somewhere. Thankfully, the touch-screen plays much better than it looks, with fluid key swipes and a good hit to response ratio when pressing the virtual icons.

 

However, it’s the virtual keyboard that got us really salivating. INQ has teamed up with TouchType, who’s SwiftKey typing app comes pre-embedded on the device and acts as the Cloud Touch’s default keyboard – you can switch back to Android’s more traditional one if you so please. TouchType works by learning your text-entering habits and then suggesting the most likely words you're about to type. It makes for a very personalised experience, and with the CloudTouch providing one-touch links direct from the home screen to Facebook Chat, your status updates and friends' walls, it’s the perfect partnership.

Facebook

Which brings us nicely to Facebook on the Cloud Touch. When you fire up the phone for the first time you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account. Once this initial step is out of the way, the social networking site is very much at the forefront of the device. One of the home screens is dedicated to Facebook and is mostly taken up by your news feed, which, unlike most ‘social networking’ phones, is far more than just a text feed. For instance, any videos and photos that are posted on the site are displayed in full as a way of enticing you to actually view or look at them. Above this feed are four icons that include your Facebook events calendar, your notifications (i.e. wall posts, messages, etc.), places and finally ‘People’.

 

When you first set up your Facebook account on your Cloud Touch, the five friends whose profiles you most look at (you know the ones, your exes or that person you secretly fancy) will be packaged collectively so you have quick access to the Facebook profiles. However, if stalking’s not your bag, then you can edit these profiles to friends you actually communicate with, totalling 25. There’s also a shortcut bar at the bottom of the screen that can be customised to include fast access to the likes of Facebook Chat, messages or your profile. Slide this same bar from left to right and you’ll find shortcuts to more run of the mill features such as your camera, text messages or browser.

Talking of the browser, the excellent Opera Mini is pre-installed (though it’s not the default browser), which allows you to save pages and read offline as well as load pages in the background while you browse. In fact, the Cloud Touch is preloaded with a number of useful apps. Of course, being an Android phone (it runs on Froyo 2.2, but will be upgradeable to Gingerbread) you can download your own apps, but for those that might be unfamiliar with what’s possible with an Android-powered smartphone, it’s good to have a helping hand.

Conclusion

The INQ Cloud Touch is a great handset with some well executed features. In terms of social networking, particularly with regards to Facebook, it’s second to none in terms of integration, and as a result we’re sure it will prove popular among a younger audience. We also liked the inclusion of Spotify as the phone’s default music player. A couple of the phone’s features are low grade enough to put some early adopters off – the poor resolution screen and average camera – while the bodywork feels a bit tacky. Yet for a phone that is available for free on some £18 per month contracts, the INQ Cloud Touch deserves recognition, especially if social networking is your thing.

Danny Brogan