INQ Cloud Touch

11th Apr 2011 | 13:29

INQ Cloud Touch

The Facebook phone, the Spotify phone - all for under £200

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A promising handset that now has the correct price tag to boot - a lot of Facebook fans are going to be picking this up in the near future.

Like:

Deep Facebook integration; Cheaper price tag; Cute chassis; More efficient typing; Cool unlock motion

Dislike:

Slower camera; Average keyboard; Slow to update People tab; No camera flash;

INQ Cloud Touch: Overview, design and feel

Last year, we saw the INQ Chat 3G and INQ Mini 3G, promising Facebook integration on a budget - but sadly, thanks to quite poor processing, neither really stepped up to the task.

Fast forward to 2011, and the company has come back with the INQ Cloud Touch an Android-powered smartphone that keeps the budget tag, and shoves not only Facebook, but Spotify too deeper into the phone than anything on the market - and TechRadar has nabbed the first model to bring you our exclusive UK INQ Cloud Touch review.

We've committed our thoughts to (non)celluloid, and you can watch TechRadar's video review of the INQ Cloud Touch right here:

The 'budget' tag is one that many phone brands have struggled with in the past, as it's too easy to skimp on features or design in order to bring the handsets in at the correct price point. The Orange San Francisco is the only success we've really seen, with a high-res screen and slick OS all for £90.

INQ cloud touch review

The INQ Cloud Touch costs £199.95 on PAYG or just £18 on contract, so while it's not in the same category price wise, it's still very much cheaper than the £500+ price mark of the likes of the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S2.

Design

The INQ Cloud Touch is a cute little handset, there's no doubt about that. Covered in a rounded plastic chassis that comes in red and white, the phone feels a little light in the hand, but nothing too bad. The design ethos is clearly cheerful and chirpy, and the smooth edges and large front icons certainly help facilitate that.

INQ cloud touch review

The front of the phone houses three touch-sensitive buttons (Menu, Home and Back), although there's no front-facing camera to speak of. But it's on the sides that INQ has decided to place its innovative keys, and we're big fans.

On the top left-hand side, a flush key sits with a small 'i' icon on - this is the info key that delivers pertinent information when pressed from any point in the phone. It's a nice touch, and easy to use no matter how you're holding the phone; plus it has a smooth pressing action.

INQ cloud touch review

The top of the INQ Cloud Touch has the microUSB slot (uncovered), 3.5mm headphone jack and power/lock key. We always like to see a cap for our charger slot (after the horrific breakfast jam tragedy of 2009) and the power button is a little hard to hit as it's part of the curved chassis. It's not terrible, but it does feel a little small.

INQ cloud touch review

The volume rocker switch is on the top right-hand side of the phone, and is easy to operate, although as it's flush it can be hard to hit in the pocket. Below it lives the media key, which is another nifty bit of innovation.

Pressing it will open up the Spotify player, giving you easy access to your music or the full Spotify experience (depending on whether you're a Premium user or not). The INQ Cloud Touch is the first phone to bring an offline Spotify experience (ie you don't need to pay £9.99 a month to use the app), and it's good to see access is hardwired to the phone.

INQ cloud touch review

The rear of the Cloud Touch looks similarly cutesy - the camera sensor has a plastic ring around it to look oversized, next to a speaker grille with the same dimensions to offer an experience that looks ever so slightly like a face. Weird, but kind of cool if you like Hello Kitty merchandise.

INQ cloud touch review

Overall, the INQ Cloud Touch feels nice in the hand - it sits well and the 3.5-inch screen, with WVGA resolution, looks clear and is easy to reach. It doesn't pack a weighty, premium feel, but it does have a lot of style and will appeal to many looking for a cheaper phone.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Interface

INQ Cloud Touch review: Interface

The fact this is an Android-powered smartphone might put off some users that are fed up with identikit Google phones. Well, make sure you take a second glance at the INQ Cloud Touch, as it's got some really clever touches that really set it apart from the competition.

Before we get into that, we should say that the overall operation of the Cloud Touch, for a phone that doesn't have a full 1GHz processor (only packing a 800MHz option) is pretty slick. We encountered minimal slowdown in our tests, which is always a sign of a well-packaged handset, and the overall use was intuitive by putting things in logical places.

For instance, we're pleased to see the 'pinch to view all homescreens' option on the main display - but beyond that, you can extend the amount you have up to seven, and all of these will still display in the pinch view.

INQ cloud touch review

Another really, really cool feature is the lock screen: instead of the boring slide-to-unlock you have to drag a padlock through a moveable membrane, which is responsive and cool at the same time. If you don't want to unlock the phone but use the camera instead, simply do the same with the camera icon.

And the INQ Type option, which lets you quickly search the web, post a social networking status or save a number/name, is one drag away too - really nice, really intuitive and one of the things that users will like to show off to their friends.

You can also access this from anywhere in the phone by dragging upwards from the main 'Q' icon on the touch controls, so it's always available.

INQ cloud touch review

Other touches that INQ has thought about really come to life when you start using the phone - for instance, a customisable tray at the bottom of every home screen is an easy way to get to the places you use a lot. If we're being critical (and you know us, we always are) the icons are a little perplexing at times, but a couple of weeks in and you'll have learnt all the idiosyncrasies.

INQ cloud touch review

You can specify things like whether the menu animates when pressed, or set specific gestures for the home screen to perform different tasks: be it swiping up or down, there's a plethora of options on offer, and that's the kind of thinking we love to see, especially as it works really well.

It would be easy to criticise the INQ Cloud Touch for not having overt access to the dial pad - sure, INQ isn't positioning this phone as a standard calling and texting device, but it's still a key function. Step forward home gestures - you can set the option to double tap, swipe up or swipe down and have the dial pad open up. Nice stuff.

INQ cloud touch review

Of course, there are still some niggles - for instance, you can't manually drag and drop icons from the bottom tray; instead, you have to hold them down and choose to move them using buttons. It's not a hugely time consuming affair, but it's not overly intuitive.

http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/hands-on-samsung-galaxy-s2-review-928508

However, it would be unfair to say the INQ Cloud Touch layout isn't intuitive overall - while a contextual search key might be a big oversight, the rest of the Android OS' advantages are all present, correct and well laid out, plus the Facebook overlay we'll come onto later will impress a lot of users.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Calling and contacts

INQ Cloud Touch review: Calling and contacts

As we mentioned before, the INQ Cloud Touch doesn't strike us as a phone that thrives on being seen as a device for calling first and foremost. The fact the dialpad seems almost hidden and the contacts system more suited to social networking than simple browsing hints at such, but it's still far from a total disaster.

Contacts

What is confusing with the Cloud Touch is the fact it has two contact menus - an instant link to your Facebook friends list within the app, and the standard Android contacts layout.

The latter is the one that contains most of the pertinent information, and like the Galaxy S, Motorola Milestone 2 and Google Nexus S, is a pretty standard affair.

INQ cloud touch review

You can choose to access contacts from the standard icon on the front screen, from the dial pad or typing a name into the INQ Type or standard search engine box, and all will lead you to the Android phone book.

It's easy to scroll through your buddies, as a little drag tab appears on the right-hand side of the screen to let you jump to a specific letter, and each person will have a little picture next to them if you've linked up a social network or other account.

Once tapped, a plethora of information is on offer: you can see everything from email addresses to text message history to birthdays, and it's all laid out very easily to see.

INQ cloud touch review

Twitter and Facebook are integrated by default thanks to the stock Android experience - and as the INQ Cloud Touch is being seen as a 'Facebook Phone' it has all that social network's functionality in once place, meaning you don't have to keep ducking in and out of applications to properly stalk the pretty girl in your office who accidentally left her business card with mobile number on your desk.

You can only write on the person's wall or browse their photos from the contacts menu, but it's a well-polished and nifty option.

The only downside is joining people together - the intuition in offering you names to link to is pretty minimal, meaning you have to scroll through and find the people you want to join over and over again.

And also if you've got a few accounts together on display - Google, Facebook, Exchange etc - you'll have to unlink them and then put them all back together again to join quickly, as the phone will sporadically not allow you to join them together.

Compare this to something like the HTC Desire, which is almost telepathic, and you might be a little disappointed - although after you spend about an hour sorting it all out, you'll be impressed to see the profile pictures constantly update to the new snap whenever your buddy does something else extraordinarily funny.

Calling

When it comes to calling on the INQ Cloud Touch, it's not an unpleasant experience, but it's far from the best we've ever heard on a phone.

The speaker is well-enough positioned to your ear that you never end up having to wiggle it around to find the optimum listening position. It's loud enough without being unpleasant, but we have had to cram it closer to our ear in mildly louder moments.

INQ cloud touch review

At least the connection is sound enough - we actually found around a 10% increase in coverage in the traditionally weak signal spots we love to frequent. It meant a single bar when often there was none, which is a big plus for a phone user.

However, while calling was possible, the quality, as mentioned, was only average - users on the other end often complained of not being able to hear us well, and we were often clutching the phone a lot harder trying to listen to them too.

With no noise reduction to speak of, nor an intuitive calling system, we'd have to conclude that you wouldn't be looking at the Cloud Touch primarily as a calling tool.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Messaging

INQ Cloud Touch review: Messaging

Messaging on the INQ Cloud Touch isn't as easy as it was on the older, non-Android versions of the INQ range. That's not to say it's tricky, but the main thing we miss is being able to send a Facebook message to a contact from your phone's address book.

There's also no integrated Facebook and Twitter inbox, in the same vein as the BlackBerry Torch, but that was hoping for a bit much given there are still Android constraints INQ has to work within.

At least the messaging types on offer are varied enough to be interesting to most users. Be it GoogleMail, Exchange, POP email or simple SMS, all are within easy reach and mostly just require an email address and password to use.

We had to faff about with the Exchange server, something we haven't had to do on an Android phone in a while, but a few settings later we were 'happily' downloading work emails to be told about spreadsheets that haven't been filled in.

INQ cloud touch review

As you can imagine, Facebook messaging is well integrated into the INQ Cloud Touch, with a dedicated icon to get you to that section of the application. It's nothing more than that, but the notifications when you get a new FB message are quick and easy to read, which is something many phones fail to do.

Another cool feature is Facebook Chat - we know that it's been offered through the updated Facebook application for a while now, but the dedicated icon and placement on the bottom row of icons makes it feel a lot more like a decent phone feature than another option in an app.

Facebook Chat is joined by MSN Messenger and Google Talk on the INQ Cloud Touch, making it one of the best IM phones on the market - if only BBM would make an appearance on the Android market, and this would be one of the best phones for sending poorly-spelled answers with emoticons to friends out there.

Now, onto the keyboard: and we're not sure what to make of this, so bear with us. If we described it as a much slower experience but one that's much more enjoyable, you'd think we were simply MAD... well, we're not.

Using the INQ keyboard, users start typing and a selection of words will come up as predictive text. Nothing odd there, but the phone is supposed to actually be intelligent enough to start learning what you commonly write and predict better words over time.

INQ cloud touch review

We've heard this claim before, but by Jupiter, it actually seems to work in this instance. It somehow knew that when we wrote 20th, we wanted to write June afterwards. Yes, it scared us, but in a cool way. There's even a little calculator to show you how many keystrokes you saved - over time that will get up to a massive 25% to 30%, which is pretty nifty.

You'll need to mess with the settings a little bit to make sure the autocorrect and auto accept settings are OK, but on the whole it's very well stocked.

However, and this is a real problem, the keyboard accuracy is a little bit dodgy. It's something you can learn to live with, but the light feel to the phone, coupled with the smaller screen, mean you'll spend a lot of time deleting if the word you want to write hasn't been predicted already - and over time, cooler text entry will always lose out to slower typing.

SwiftKey (the underlying software running the inuitive system) is working well and does the job that's made it a real winner on the Android market, but typing without it on the INQ Cloud Touch could still do with being a lot more accurate.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Facebook

INQ Cloud Touch review: Facebook

We've decided to include a special section dealing with Facebook for the INQ Cloud Touch, basically because there's so much stuff going on here that we couldn't do it justice in the apps section.

On the one hand, the Facebook integration is nothing more than a separation of the standard Android application with some neat features placed on the top - on the other, it's a much more efficient way of interacting with Facebook on the go.

INQ cloud touch review

While it does pollute the main menu to have all the different elements of the application as icons (Chat, Places, Friends etc) it's placing them on the homescreen that makes the difference, as we found it really handy to be able to reach for the likes of Chat, which we use a lot, without having to keep opening up the main application.

Of more use, and to incredible cool effect, is the main Facebook widget on the home screen; it offers up way more than the standard scrolling list of status updates.

It shows the most recent status updates in a large preview pane - and if they share a video or Spotify playlist, it will open the dedicated application up for it on the phone as soon as you tap.

INQ cloud touch review

Navigating through the updates is a little bit niggly though - you have to tap a tiny icon to move left or right, where swiping would be a little bit more intuitive. However, on the home screen this might be an issue - but we'd expect INQ to have worked this out.

UPDATE: INQ has overhauled this feature already, so the tiny icons are a little less tiny. We're still not massive fans, but INQ has also promised updates to the widget in the future, so swipable options are a definite possibilty.

It didn't stop us deleting it though, as the people shown weren't always ones we cared about much, so we soon got fed up of reading about people we used to know at school on a regular basis.

But a cooler feature: the People tab. This opens up a 'notepad' style view of your most-visited contacts, using the Social Graph API from Facebook to decide on the best contacts to use. It then shows their profile picture and recent posts in a much more attractive format, and one we'd love to see replicated on the desktop.

INQ cloud touch review

The INQ Cloud Touch shows a little star and the friend's profile icon in the People tab whenever there's an update to be read, which is helpful too.

You can also go in and tinker with the friends you want to see - we had a few odd choices at the start, but overall it was very accurate indeed, and quite eye-opening.

But, and this is a big but, every time you open the client to see your favourite friends, there's a roughly 30 second delay where you have to watch a spinning icon as the app updates. When you've just been told there's an update to look at, this is highly irritating.

UPDATE: INQ has tweaked this area as well, and while it now takes a lot less time to update, at 5-10 seconds every time the app updates, it's still miles too slow, which is going to really annoy some people.

The other tabs could do with the same treatment too - like the notifications tab bringing a star every time you got something of note to look at, rather than an icon in the top phone window (although there's every chance this will be updated in the future, we can only review what's in front of us). The Places check-in tool is helpful though, as it reminds you to keep the service updated.

INQ Cloud Touch: Internet

INQ Cloud Touch review: Internet

The internet browser on the INQ Cloud Touch isn't too different from stock Android offerings, although it does err a little on the laggy side at times.

Connectivity is well stocked: 3G and HSDPA 7.2Mbps is included, and held connection very well in our tests no matter if we were standing next to a mobile mast or travelling on a train, and the Wi-Fi (up to 802.11 b/g standard) was quick to connect and offered slick internet browsing too.

The HVGA resolution of the screen means that web pages look a little shonky zoomed out - trying to work out the link you're looking to tap isn't going to happen unless you zoom in.

INQ cloud touch review

Pinch to zoom is pretty good though - it's slick under the finger and responds when you want it to. If you double tap, the browser zooms you in close enough to read the text, but if you want to get closer you'll need to tap the magnifying icon or pinch again to see the letters a little larger and filling the screen.

If you want the text to reflow, you'll need to tap again... it's a flaw in the Android system, and one that the likes of HTC have ironed out with the Desire S... we'd have hoped an innovative company like INQ would have managed the same.

Another thing we hoped to see is nowhere to be found, and is a limitation of the Qualcomm 7227 chip's hardware: no Flash video anywhere. Come on INQ, this isn't the iPhone - we want Flash Player 10.2 and we want it now so we can watch videos on the go that we don't really care about.

On the plus side, the Android OS does still provide some nice little touches to the system, such as visual thumbnails of a bookmarked page - it makes it so much easier to see where you're trying to tap to. Also, your most visited pages are offered as potential bookmarks too... just make sure you keep a regular eye on what you're looking at if your ladyfriend often picks up your handset.

INQ cloud touch review

If you're not into any of these options, then Opera Mini is pre-installed as well - this offers a cool tabbed browsing system, speed dial bookmarks and a generally quicker experience to the normal Android browser thanks to the compression algorithms.

However, the speed tests we conducted showed it to be about the same time to load certain pages across both browsers, and the overall functionality of the standard Android option worked better in our opinion.

We're more annoyed that Firefox for Android wasn't included, as that's a really modernised browser for the platform - but once again INQ users are left out in the cold when it comes to the cutting edge apps.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Camera

INQ Cloud Touch review: Camera

INQ cloud touch

Being a 'Facebook Phone', the INQ Cloud Touch wasn't expected to be any great shakes when it comes to the camera mode, and unsurprisingly, that's exactly the case here.

A 5MP camera without flash is offered up on the rear, and while we're disappointed with the lack of a light, the overall specs can't really be sniffed at for a phone at this price point.

INQ cloud touch

As we mentioned before, accessing the camera can be managed from the home screen, menu or by dragging up the relevant icon from the lock screen, and that speed of opening is something we love to see.

However, the shutter is only average (but faster thanks to a recent INQ update) - we're talking around 3-4 seconds between each picture, which is miles slower than the likes of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, which is capable of snapping around 10x faster (but is waaaaay more expensive and has a much faster processor).

The range of picture tweakery on offer is impressive though - from anti-banding to contrast alteration, it's all easy to change and makes a slight difference to photos, although nowhere near the same performance of something like the Nokia N8 (but then again you wouldn't be looking at the INQ Cloud Touch if you were after a top end camera phone).

In short: great for Twitter and Facebook (although an 'auto-upload' function should be offered for the latter, given the level of integration here) but not the best for capturing that image of the Loch Ness Monster in time. Now nobody will believe you.

INQ cloud touch review

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The standard capture mode is OK, taking this moving flag with ease and bringing out the colours well

INQ cloud touch review

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Normal scenes in bright sunlight can look a little washed out

INQ cloud touch review

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Upping the saturation does bring some decent effects though

INQ cloud touch review

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Reflections are a good method of showing detail capture - although this is grainy, the picture is mostly intact

INQ cloud touch review

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With no flash, the INQ Cloud Touch defaults to a pseudo-night mode, with it impossible to capture motion

INQ cloud touch review

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This picture is terrible noisy in varying light conditions

INQ cloud touch review

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With the exposure turned down, you can see the light focus is skewed in the original picture

INQ cloud touch review

Click here to see the full-res shot

And with the exposure turned up, the detail is still lost, but not much more than in the original

INQ Cloud Touch review: Video

Video on the INQ Cloud Touch is, like the camera, not that impressive but good enough.

INQ cloud touch

We're talking a limited range of tweaking on offer, and only VGA resolution at the highest setting. That said, we're not sure most users would buy this phone for HD video recording, so it's hard to mark it down for not wasting resources on that when they could be better spent elsewhere.

INQ cloud touch review

And for those video naysayers, there's a little bit of customisation to keep you happy too: while all the videos are encoded in the 3GPP container, you can specify output to MPEG-4, H.263 or H.264, with a multitude of audio encodes on offer too to spice things up.

Add this to the white balance options and you've got an above average camcorder option - and that's all a phone of this calibre needs to offer in our opinion.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Media

INQ Cloud Touch review: Media

Music

If you've followed the launch of the INQ Cloud Touch then you'll have noticed that Spotify is included, and it's the first time a mobile phone has included offline Spotify integration.

This means you can use the application to manage your playlists offline (if you use Spotify as your main media player on your PC) and play them using the Spotify interface on your phone.

Except without the premium account, which costs £9.99 per month, there's not a lot of reason to use Spotify as your main player. The audio quality isn't great (or at least, no better than the default Music application, and there's a plethora of options to download from the app market) and the management is just woeful.

With no contextual search button, it's hard to find and create playlists using the application, and the search button only works for the online section - for which you need a premium account.

INQ cloud touch review

And the icing on the cake - the INQ Cloud Touch will not only find your music, but also play back video files (including ones the video player can't manage) as music files too.

While Spotify is great for the mobile, without the premium account it's pretty pointless in our opinion on the Cloud Touch, and not being able to change the function of the side button is really annoying, as we'd prefer to use our own music player.

However, pony up for a premium account and the experience becomes a whole lot better - despite having to log in ALL THE TIME to actually use the music player (which adds around 5-6 seconds to listening to tunes you were only an hour ago).

Playlists and song choice becomes a lot easier, and if you spend some time mixing your own music with the online stuff on a PC it's pretty cool - but on a handset alone it's a veritable nightmare.

The other music player is basic Android fare - simple tabs to sort out albums, artists, songs and playlists, and an easy to use 'shuffle all' mode. It's not terrible, it's not great - and it will play back MP3, WAV and eAAC+ files too.

Sonically, it could be a lot better, but it doesn't offer massive distortion or low quality - it's just with the lack of an equaliser, a lot of songs sounded very flat and lacked bass or vocal tone where we know other phones of comparable price, like the LG Optimus One, have performed much better.

Video

The INQ Cloud Touch only supports MP4 and H.263/264 file formats, which might sound a little low but for a phone of this calibre it's perfectly acceptable.

However, we had some problem with certain MP4 formats - stuff we'd encoded ourselves refused to work, despite working on 99% of all other phones we've reviewed.

The low compatibility also ruled out the likes of WMV and AVI files, which is again less of an issue - but some DivX or Xvid support wouldn't have gone amiss.

INQ cloud touch review

Video playback quality was average at best - playing standard MP4 files on the HVGA screen and 600MHz processor didn't fill us with any kind of joy, and compared to the Orange San Francisco, which at least sports a WVGA screen, it's a poorer option.

INQ cloud touch review

The 3.5-inch screen is a good enough size for watching movies though - so if you can see past the quality you'll be able to use the INQ Cloud Touch for an extended video session.

FM radio

Despite some of the media faults, we still like INQ's overall design ethos - and the FM radio is a great example of that.

The UI is really nice to look at, and the auto tuning is pretty neat at finding stations - however (like most mobile phones) the sensitivity isn't great for discovering and tuning in stations.

You can fine tune to a great degree, with the ability to move in 0.01 increments on the FM scale to find the right one for you.

INQ cloud touch review

We would have liked to see RDS included too, and we always love a bit of recording, but overall the FM radio is a competent effort.

UPDATE: Apparently, RDS is indeed included - but for the life of us we couldn't get a signal where it actually worked, so we'll have to just believe it's there but very hard to find.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Battery life and connectivity

INQ Cloud Touch review: Battery life and connectivity

The INQ Cloud Touch battery life is something of an odd issue - it varies wildly depending on which services you have running.

We managed to extract a day and a half's use out of the INQ Cloud Touch with none of the push email or Wi-Fi turned on, although that included a little bit of GPS usage from time to time as we navigated rural Aberdeen.

INQ cloud touch review

The battery life is a little erratic when it gets low - we constantly had a long time in the green, but as soon as it started to dip into the yellow we found we only two or three hours' more use before it died. It's a definite improvement on the first model we reviewed, but we'd be surprised if you regularly got more than a day's use out of the phone if you use a number of its core funtions.

We like the fact battery life meter on the info key shows you how many hours of talk time and music playback are left, although it's worth noting that these are really more of a guideline than anything else - for instance, the music lifetime left will only hold up if nothing else is turned on.

Connections

The usual list of Android-based connections is on offer here - we're talking 7.2Mbps HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP.

The latter worked very well with our Jabra Halo headphones, picking up and holding wireless music playback with aplomb, and very quickly too.

INQ cloud touch review

GPS was fast to connect as well, which is handy for a phone like the INQ Cloud Touch where geotagging photos is something you're going to be more inclined to do as sharing them is more prevalent among Facebook users.

PC connectivity

There was no PC suite in the box for our INQ Cloud Touch, but we decided to go down the tried and tested INQ route for media management and use DoubleTwist instead.

Once downloaded, it worked first time, recognising the phone as soon as possible and asking to download all music and pictures from it, which it did in the blink of an eye.

INQ cloud touch review

It's a great way to manage media on to your device, providing a clean, iTunes-like interface to work with - but for things like contacts or messaging backing up, you're plum out of luck here.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Apps and Maps

INQ Cloud Touch review: Apps and Maps

The INQ Cloud Touch comes a huge amount of pre-installed applications, which is likely to polarise user opinion when they first pick up the phone.

As we mentioned, the Facebook application has been separated out into its component parts, which adds around seven or eight extra applications on its own.

Then you have Google's suite of Maps, Latitude, News and Weather, Mail etc - plus the confusion of Google's 'Places' next to Facebook's 'Places'... not the best set up.

If you've picked up the phone from The Carphone Warehouse will also be treated to Vringo, a video ringtone creator. It's £1 a month with a free trial to start with, and you can download other video ringtones from the site or though the phone application.

However, it simply doesn't work regularly enough. The first few times we tried it, the caller ID just showed up, and the only time the video player did start, Vringo crashed. Not a good app to have on there, and impossible to uninstall without rooting the phone (although eventually, after a long time of prodding, it started to work OK).

INQ cloud touch review

You also get access to the My Hub music service as a pre-installed icon - this gives you access to an online server that lets you back up 2GB of photos and contacts, as well as offering you the chance to pay £4 a month to sync all your music to an online server. A decent service in our eyes, but again, one you'd hope would be free as part of the package.

Shazam is also included by INQ, with a free five tags per month. It works in the same stereotypically awesome way it always has, and includes a link to buy the track on Amazon, watch the YouTube video or mention it on Facebook or Twitter.

But more worryingly: the INQ Cloud Touch feels too underpowered to use the cool applications we're getting used to on Android these days. Flash video is incompatible, which means BBC iPlayer is out of the question, and Mozilla's Firefox won't install either.

We know this is because of the cheaper Qualcomm hardware on board, but it will still make some users pause when deciding to buy the Cloud Touch or a more expensive model.

But overall - we'd love to see some customisation of the handset from the outset here, and surely that's within INQ's remit to do so. If you could turn the phone on and have a list of free applications you want to make your experience as pertinent to you as possible, it would be far better than filling the phone with perceived bloatware when users see reams and reams of unused icons.

Maps

The only mapping application installed on the INQ Cloud Touch is the standard Google Maps - but then again, when something is this awesome, who are we to get annoyed about a monopoly?

It's got all the new features - from simple to use Sat Nav (although you will need to download a free voice pack to make it work as a dashboard device correctly) to place-based recommendations, we're fans.

INQ cloud touch review

Vector graphics and 3D building mapping is supported on the INQ Cloud Touch, with Birmingham being easy to navigate through swiftly (we still don't know why London isn't supported) although the 600MHz processor really struggles to keep up from time to time when zooming in and out - a high end experience this isn't, but for the price it's acceptable.

The sat nav service, which is as simple as clicking an icon on a place you've searched for to use, is strong on the INQ Cloud Touch - the GPS stays locked for most of the journey in the car, although the speaker is too tinny to hear at high speeds.

We're still a bit annoyed at Google not sorting out the Places feature fully, as things like ATM searching are still nigh-on impossible when only one in every 10 or so is shown on the map.

However, the restaurant recommendations are great, and we found a nice couple of off-piste finds thanks to the star rating.

INQ Cloud Touch: Benchmarks

tablet benchmarks

INQ Cloud Touch

How it rates against the rest - higher is better

S2

How we test

TechRadar aims to produce the most helpful phone reviews on the web, so you're able to make a more informed buying decision.

Part of this testing process includes benchmarking. It's a good way of measuring the overall performance of a product's internal hardware components.

We use Antutu System Benchmark to test tablets. It's a comprehensive Android benchmarking app and produces consistent results.

Antutu measures an Android device's CPU performance, 2D and 3D graphics performance, memory speed and internal and external storage read/write speeds. It combines the results for each test and gives the device a final score.

We test each device three times and take an average.

INQ Cloud Touch review: Hands on gallery

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INQ cloud touch review

INQ cloud touch review

INQ cloud touch review

INQ cloud touch review

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INQ Cloud Touch review: Official gallery

INQ cloud touch review

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INQ cloud touch review

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INQ cloud touch review

INQ Cloud Touch review: Verdict

INQ Cloud Touch review: Verdict

INQ cloud touch review

We're a little stuck on our feelings for the INQ Cloud Touch - when we first picked it up, we thought it was a stunning piece of kit, and had really high hopes for the price point too.

At £18 a month and £200 on PAYG, it's starting to stack up compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Ace, LG Optimus One or the Orange San Francisco.

We liked

The sheer depth of Facebook functionality embedded in the phone is excellent - the main widget is a joy to use and really works well with the handset. The People tab, which should be a mainstay for all Facebook-capable handsets, is great too, as it really helps you feel more connected to the people you care about.

The style is cute and fun, and positioning it at the lower end of the budget scale is never something to be sniffed at.

Video recording capabilities aren't bad either, as while the sound can be a little off the VGA recording surpasses what you'd expect from such a device.

Call quality was clear enough (without being spectacular) and if you use the Spotify application all the time, a one touch button to access it is brilliant.

Home screen gestures are similarly ace, as well as being able to customise the amount of screens too. The INQ keyboard is a novel idea, and we love the thought of being more efficient with keystrokes.

We disliked

We first reviewed the INQ Cloud Touch it was full of bugs - the software often crashed, the camera was a little poor quality and the battery life was all over the place.

A lot of these foibles have now been fixed thanks to an instant software upgrade, meaning that most of the issues we found are gone.

The battery life is still a little suspect at times despite the tuning, although it's not a million miles away from most of today's smartphones.

The chunky chassis will be a little off-putting for some users too, as will the over-styled buttons on the bottom - but equally, it will be a real winner for some people, so isn't necessarily a negative.

The Facebook News Feed widget isn't as good as it could be, and the camera is still only so-so, although pretty much in line for a phone of this price.

Verdict

We were initially quite worried about the INQ Cloud Touch as it was littered with bugs and foibles, but thankfully a large percentage of these have been worked out and we're left with a pretty well-rounded phone indeed.

The agressive sub-£20 a month price is a really nice idea, as it moves it from the 'budget' category in many consumers' minds to 'super-budget'.

The Facebook integration is nice, but mostly just being split across a number of icons rather than in one application - and the People tab still takes far, far too long to update in our opinion.

We were hoping for a better battery life too, although it's not terrible on the Cloud Touch, and the Spotify player is only really any good if you're a habitual Spotify PC user or have a Premium account.

However, those looking for one of those new and fandangled 'Facebook Phones' should definitely take a good, hard look at the Cloud Touch - while technically it's nowhere near as gifted as some of the competition, the overlay and thought process gone into INQ's customisation is something we're already big fans of, and it's only going to get better.

Android 2.2 Facebook phone
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