With about ten gazillion users, Facebook clearly has its fans. About ten gazillion at the last count, in fact. Marketing a phone directly at this huge audience is logical, and if you’re going to make a Facebook phone, why not put a Facebook button on it?

That was HTC’s thinking, and we find it hard to argue against it. As you can see, the HTC Salsa has just such a thing set into its frame. Press it, and you’re whisked off to a little app that invites you to post a status update, message a friend, upload a picture from your collection or take one with the camera and have it uploaded straight to Facebook.

More Facebook fun

All good stuff, but you might expect that button to open a more richly featured Facebook app. We did, but then it does fit with the no-fuss, one-button, direct action ethos. Further Facebookery is dished out by a tiny feed that’s integrated into HTC’s familiar retro clock widget. A more rounded social experience is also just a flick away with the FriendStream widget, which neatly ties up Facebook, Flickr and Twitter blurb into a compact, phone-friendly list.

The phone itself is most notable for its size. It’s not tiny, but smaller than most touchscreens, clad in a smart combo of metal and rubbery bits with a metrosexual lilac colour scheme. There’s a hint of the old HTC Hero’s chin, but this is almost an illusion, adding very little to the overall depth of the handset.

We’re on Android 2.3 here, with HTC’s Sense skin on top which adds direct routes to the messaging, mail, browser and camera sections from the unlock screen and a few other shortcuts. This all runs along fine so long as there aren’t too many demands put on the system. Music plays well (and loudly through the internal speaker), but games can chug at times. Angry Birds can turn into Jerky Birds, but still remains playable.

Review continues after the break…

Camera blues

Hopes were reasonably high for the camera on sighting the dedicated shutter button. While this is much nicer to use that an on-screen button, you’re still subjected to the usual shutter lag, so you’re likely to end up with a series of pictures of what happened one second after something interesting happened. And they’ll be a bit purple. Otherwise the stills are fine, but video isn’t great, especially if you’re moving while filming.

The Salsa is a neat phone with all the features you’d expect from a high-ender, only in a smaller package. The Facebook stuff is gimmicky and you could do much the same thing with an onscreen shortcut and a few free apps, but the convenience of it is still a big plus for serial socialisers.

Stuff says... 

HTC Salsa review

A compact smartie that’s ideal for Facebook addicts with small pockets

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