3 INQ Mini 3G mobile phone
This social-networking phone doesn't have a great design, but it offers good value for money
- Quirky and colourful design and interface, convenient switcher key, excellent home screen, great integration of social-networking apps
- Largely plastic design, not the best keypad, UI is a little slow, no 3.5mm headphone jack, poor camera
3's INQ Mini 3G mobile phone is far from perfect, but it represents decent value for money. Multimedia features aren’t up to scratch and there are limitations at this price point, but the integration of social-networking features, particularly with contacts and messaging menus, is excellent.
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
A successor to the INQ1, 3 Mobile's INQ Mini 3G is an entry-level prepaid mobile phone that has access to social-networking features like Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger and Skype at the heart of its user interface. An offering likely to appeal to a younger audience, the INQ Mini 3G doesn't possess a great design but it offers good value for money.
As its name suggests, the INQ Mini 3G mobile phone is a smaller version of the INQ1. It's exclusive to the 3 network in Australia. Unfortunately, it is constructed largely of plastic instead of the brushed metal finish of the original. Though we prefer the more polished look and feel of the INQ1, the INQ Mini 3G feels well constructed and fairly sturdy despite its plastic build. As it’s a candy bar mobile phone there are no moving parts.
The biggest disappointment is the INQ Mini 3G's small keypad. Though the keys are slightly raised, the spongy feel doesn't lend itself to typing out long winded e-mails or even Facebook status updates. We found it a chore just to enter our e-mail address and password to access the Facebook application for the first time. The rest of the controls are straightforward. They include a very large five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer and end call keys and dedicated menu and clear buttons. We really liked the "switcher" key on the right side of the INQ Mini 3G — it allows you to flick between running applications and scroll through the apps and services on the home screen.
The 3 Mobile INQ Mini 3G's user interface is bright, vivid and full of colour. The very colourful icons in the main menu may put you off at first, but the INQ Mini 3G is easy to get your head around — most submenus use a simple list format and many commonly used applications are accessible directly from the home screen. Unfortunately, the INQ Mini 3G is a little slow. We noticed slight lag in various instances, especially when opening many of the preinstalled applications.
The home screen is the most impressive aspect of the INQ Mini 3G. In addition to three active widget slots, the INQ Mini 3G has a row of application icons that sit across the bottom of the home screen. These include social-networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, Skype and YouTube, in addition to commonly accessed functions like e-mail, the Web browser, contacts, and messages. Conveniently, you can add further applications or even bookmark Web sites for one-touch access.
Though Windows Live Messenger and Skype applications are available, Facebook and Twitter are clearly the main attractions. Both are well integrated: in addition to these applications running automatically in the background once configured, Facebook, Windows Live Messenger and Skype contacts are also integrated into the INQ Mini 3G's contact list and you can tweet directly from the home screen. You'll need to merge your personal contacts with your Facebook, IM and Skype contacts and some will need to be configured manually, but it’s a handy function. The INQ Mini 3G's messaging inbox is also directly linked to Facebook messages and Skype chat.
The INQ Mini 3G is an HSDPA-capable 3G phone, but it lacks Wi-Fi. Its multimedia performance is below average: the 2-megapixel camera takes grainy photos with poor colour reproduction and noticeable image noise, and there is no standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The included headphones lack both bass and clarity and aren't recommended for any serious music listening. The INQ Mini 3G includes a microSD card slot under the rear battery cover.
3 offers the INQ1 for $0 on a $19 per month plan over 24 months. This includes $70 worth of calls and text and $70 worth of free calls to other 3 mobiles. You'll need to add a data pack onto this plan if you want to access the social-networking functions — 3's X-Series packs are available for $5 (20MB), $8 (100MB) and $12 (200MB) per month. The $8 and $12 X-Series packs include 4000 Skype minutes, unlimited e-mail on 3 and unlimited Facebook access. The INQ Mini 3G is also available on prepaid for $129.
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