The INQ Mini 3G is a budget handset aimed at social-networking fiends. Offering apps for Facebook, Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Twitter, you can pick it up for free on a £15-per-month contract with 3, or for just £40 on a pay-as-you-go deal.
Cheap and cheerful
The Mini looks like a pretty conventional candybar phone. It's very small and light, measuring a mere 103mm tall and tipping the scales at just 128g. While the plasticky finish feels rather cheap, the handset looks rather cute overall, thanks to its curved edges and attractive red, black and chrome colour scheme. In fact, it looks just as good, if not better, than recent mid-range handsets from big-name brands like Sony Ericsson and Nokia.
The phone's 56mm (2.2-inch) display is bright, with a 240x320-pixel resolution, which is very respectable for a phone in this price bracket. Between the screen and keypad, there's a fairly standard circular direction pad that's used for navigating around the Mini's user interface. Alongside this, INQ has added a dedicated menu button to take you to the main grid-style menu. This menu is decked out in cool icons that look like they've been lifted straight from the pages of a style magazine. The menu layout isn't as straightforward as it could be, though, so it takes some getting used to.
The main attraction of this handset is line-up of social-networking apps. These are presented in a carousel-style menu across the bottom of the home screen, and cover Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger and Skype. All the apps perform well and, as they're pretty easy to use, they make it a piece of cake to update your Twitter feed or call friends on Skype.
We also like the way that the phone's inbox gathers together all of the messages, pokes and conversations from these apps in one place. Another neat touch is a button on the right-hand side of the handset that calls up a small menu that lets you quickly switch between any of the phone's apps. This means you can, for example, jump straight from Facebook to Twitter without missing a beat.
Nevertheless, we did have a couple of small issues with the phone. Despite its support for 3G, downloads can take a while to start, and sometimes the phone randomly slows down or pauses for a couple of seconds. Also, the first time we went to run the Facebook and Windows Live Messenger apps, we were taken to a download screen, as neither is fully pre-installed on the phone. But, in all fairness, the Mini does make downloading them a straightforward process.
The camera is also something of a letdown, as it only has a 2-megapixel resolution. There's no LED flash and it lacks autofocus too. Indoor snaps taken in low light look dreadful, as they tend to be very grainy and often quite blurry. While outdoor photos look better, they're still only barely useable, although probably good enough for posting on Facebook or Twitter.
We've no complaints when it comes to call quality. The earpiece is loud enough for you to be able to hear callers clearly even when you're walking along busy streets, and the microphone does a good job of making you intelligible to callers on the other end of the line. Battery life isn't too bad either. You'll get around 2.5 days of moderate use out of the handset before it'll need recharging.
The INQ Mini 3G is far from a perfect phone. It can be sluggish at times and its interface isn't as easy to use as it could be. But, with its decent range of social-networking apps, cute design and good call quality, we think it's something of a bargain at its current asking price.
Edited by Charles Kloet