The INQ1: Kids Phone Home

The good folks at gave me one of their INQ1 phones to report upon. This is also known as the Facebook Phone, and/or the Skype Phone, due to the fact that this phone includes embedded clients for these, as well as other popular web sites and services. What’s the phone like? Pretty good, and especially so when you take into account its intended markets.

First of all, this is not intended to be an iPhone killer. Far from it: this phone is clearly targeted at the youth market, and I can see parents buying these for their children, safe in the knowledge that they’re unlikely to be hit by telco bill-shock when the accounts come home to roost.

Three's "Facebook Phone," also known as the INQ1.

Three's "Facebook Phone," also known as the INQ1.

Three market this phone along with some very good value packages. How about 4000 minutes of Skype talk time for about the cost of a cup of coffee? Tell your kids to talk to their friends on Skype, instead of paying the telco for all of that chatter!

In terms of addressing this market, Three have very definitely hit the nail on the head. The packaging of the phone, while a little bit iPhone like in terms of the quality and materials, is very brightly coloured and, I think, guaranteed to appeal to the young.

Open the box, remove the phone, and there’s deck of brightly coloured cards that direct you through the important functions that the phone offers you. This is a very simple, but very effective way of providing the user with a quick-start manual. Much better, I think, than a boring old leaflet.

Turn the phone on, and there’s more bright colours. Again, this is, I think, very effective targeting on the part of INQ and Three.

Access Facebook, Skype, and pretty much every other social networking service your teenager uses all on the go.

Access Facebook, Skype, and pretty much every other social networking service your teenager uses all on the go.

Ok, so this phone is very pretty, but does it work?

Yes, and very well. It’s really loaded with features, above and beyond the the call of duty, and well beyond what many other phones offer. While for me, many of these features might seem to be gimmicky, I’m an old fuddy-duddy, and this is not a phone that I would be buying for myself.

But I’m sure that my 15 year old niece would love one. There’s the key: Skype, Facebook, eBay, Windows Live Messenger, Last FM … what more does a teenager want?

As good as it is, and as well targeted as it is, it’s not perfect, even within its designated niche. Like many other phones, this uses a USB connector for its headphone output. This is simply a big no-no, regardless of the target market.

The Master Reset fails to address resetting of all of the features. For instance, your Skype credentials remain firmly in place after performing this function. Oops.

The predictive text settings are less than intuitive: three others, also very conversant with mobile phone technology, as well as myself, could not find a way to turn this off. I needed to look at the manual for this. I’m of the opinion that if one needs to look at the manual for this sort of thing, the designers have not done a really good job.


The Facebook Phone. Recommended by a Dad.

That’s about it. This is a small unit, very pocketable, with reasonable battery life and very versatile functionality. It even supports being used as a 3G modem from your laptop, and both Windows and OS X are supported.

If you’re looking to get a phone for the kids, I would highly recommend adding this to your list of must-sees.