Saturday, February 07, 2009

Out of INQ

Yes, like an overused biro, I am officially without INQ anymore - last week I sent back the INQ1 phone I'd been playing around with for just over a month.

So, has my life been empty and devoid of INQy pleasures since I sent it back, or has everything carried on as it had before? Well, to be honest, I'm going to err towards the latter, which isn't so much a dismissal of the INQ1's abilities, as much as it is a suggestion that it did what it did in a quiet, no nonsense manner. I won't rant and rave that it was an amazing advance in the same way that I think the iPhone was (and still is, I suppose), because it wasn't; it was just a decent phone that did some decent stuff, and at a decent price. In fact, when I flashed the INQ1 around to friends and colleagues, the thing I usually said to them was "it's a decent alternative for teenage kids who want an iPhone but can't afford it."

And it is. I liked the fact that it was always on Facebook. I liked the fact that it was always on Messenger. I think the built-in Skype was a good addition, though it's not something I've used. On the other hand, I didn't like the fact that the battery would drain as quickly as a drunken bridesmaid could knock back a bottle of Lambrini, but to be fair that's an accusation I'd make against all smartphones. And it did get awfully hot during continued use (the phone, not the bridesmaid), although given the wintery conditions of the past week it wouldn't take too much to convince me that that's a unique selling point.

While I was flashing it around at some mates (the phone, not, er, anything else) a couple of other things came up, too. Scanner in particular thought the instruction cards were an interesting feature; in fact, he used the term "really good" when he was looking through them. The INQ1's instruction cards, I should note, replace the traditional boring manual that you usually get with a new phone; in this way, the INQ1 slots neatly between a normal mobile and it's usually incomprehensible instruction booklet, and the iPhone, which basically comes with bugger all because Apple figure, quite rightly, that it's intuitive to use and you'll be up and running in minutes. 

Now, I don't actually read instruction manuals that much - just enough to get by - so I actually didn't look at the INQ1's instruction cards for … well, a couple of weeks, actually. But Scanner's right: they are pretty cool, imparting enough information to tell you how to work the phone's functions without being ridiculously dry or coma-inducing.

Whether you like them or not, they're certainly more interesting than the usual set of instructions you get with new tech.

The back of the cards shows the funky, specially-commissioned INQ1 artwork that I've mentioned before. I still like the red one with the couple on the motorbike - it'd look nice in my living room.

But at the end of the day, I won't be trading my iPhone in, not least because I'm on contract until the middle of the year because while it was a novelty having the INQ1 for the time it was with me, it lacks that certain specialness that the iPhone has. I've had my iPhone for about a year now, and it still feels special - it still feels like something that fell out of an episode of Star Trek. And whether they'll admit it or not, all the other phone manufacturers clearly agree - just look at the amount of touchscreen smartphones that have hit the market in the wake of Apple's Jeebus phone. And with an ever-evolving OS, the iPhone is constantly able to stay ahead of the competition; I mentioned liking the fact that the INQ1 had in-built Facebook - but then I downloaded the Facebook app for my iPhone and - BAM! - the INQ1 lost its advantage. The same with Messenger; I was telling Willowc about how it had an in-built messenger, and the iPhone didn't seem to have an equivalent, then she pulled out her iPhone 3G and showed me about three different IM applications; heck, even the Facebook app has a chat facility, now that I think about it.

This all sounds a bit like I didn't like the INQ1, but that's not true. The 'little phone that could' is a solid little device; honestly, it does everything you'd really want it to reasonably well, without being spectacular in any particular field - except for the price, which clocks in at about half that of a 16gb iPhone 3G. As I mentioned above, it's a genuinely sensible option for those on a budget - although I'm guessing that the kids of today will still be twisting the arms of mummy or daddy for that iPhone…


So, I'm guessing that there's going to be an INQ2 at some point so I'm going to take this opportunity to throw out some ideas for what it should maybe include.

• Really push the funkiness of it; the instruction cards and packaging are a good start, but you don't get to see these in the shop - and on a wall in the 3 Store the INQ just gets lost among a sea of other black and grey handsets.
• An obvious one, really, and one that I'm guessing would probably be shot-down on cost grounds: make it a touchscreen device. If you're aiming it at the teenage market you have to bear in mind that kids are fickle followers of fashion, and an old-school slider phone just ain't gonna cut it when someone in the playground/common room/hanging around outside the corner shop while waiting for a happy-slapping opportunity is gonna be flashing an iPhone.
• And while we're at it, even if you're not going to go touchscreen, can we ditch the slider thing? I've know too many people who've had problems with sliding fascias over the last few years that I've really come to doubt their reliability.
• Whack in a slightly better camera; I found the colours were a bit washed out on the pics I took with the INQ1. Oh, and a flash, too, please. 
• I loved the buttons on the side that allowed you to access the widget menu and camera without having to open the phone, but I found the camera one in particular was a bit awkwardly placed, so that could do with a bit of a rethink.

I think that's all… Either way, I've enjoyed my little play around with the INQ1, and while I won't be changing my iPhone, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on what comes next.


Inexplicable DeVice said...


Loved the drained battery/bridesmaid analogy - Very amusing.

Incidently, do bridesmaids get hot with continued use?

Tim said...

If you're not careful they spontaneously combust. It's like rubbing two twigs together.


CyberPete said...

IDV knows all too well about rubbing two twigs together

the projectivist said...

what freebie-gadget are you going to be given to road test next?

missyandchrissy said...

those artsy instruction cards are pretty cool...did you get to keep them, at least?

Tim said...

Cyberpete - Dirty!

The Projectivist - Ha ha, I dunno - we'll have to wait and see … and pray!

Missy&Chrissy - They are, aren't they? Still had to give 'em back though!