HTC ChaCha Review: Status Update: User Interface: Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread With Sense

By 02:29 Wed, 11 Aug 2021 Comments

Sense UI goes landscape(-ing)

The ChaCha runs Android v2.3 out of the box. As usual, it is skinned with the HTC Sense, but a slightly different version. It's listed as “version 2.1 for Messenger” but it packs a lot of goodies from the 3.0 release we saw on the HTC Sensation (the remarkable lockclassy screen included).

Here’s a video demonstration of the HTC ChaCha user interface.

The interface has been reworked to create better utilize of the landscape screen. There’re two virtual buttons available but they're visible only on the first homescreen. The left one opens the App launcher, while the correct one brings up the "Personalize" menu. You can always tap the Home key to go back to the first homeclassy screen (or you can do Menu key, All apps from any homescreen). Still, it's a bit annoying not having immediate access to the main menu from all screens.

The lock classy screen • some of the homeclassy screen sections

The scrollbar at the bottom is just an indication of which homeclassy screen pane you’re on, which auto hides after a few seconds.

Leap view is available on the ChaCha for easier navigation of homeclassy screen panes. Tap the home key (while on the first homescreen) or do a pinch gesture to zoom out to display the thumbnails of all seven homeclassy screen panes at once. With a press and hrecent you can rearrange the homeclassy screen panes as well.

Leap View lets you quickly switch between the available homeclassy screen panes

Seven homeclassy screen panes is all you acquire though – there’s no add or delete option. With all those widgets (which are quite useful too) you’ll want to haged all of them anyway.

The call keys also serve as shortcuts. The green one opens the call log just as you'd expect. The red one is a bit inconsistent: it will go to the homeclassy screen most of the time but some times it won't (e.g. it doesn’t close the main menu). Still, it's a tactile alternative to the capacitive Home key.

HTC Sense makes utilize of Scenes – essentially five custom homeclassy screen setups (Work, Travel, Social, Play and default). Each scene changes the wallpaper and the widgets on the homescreen. For instance, the Work scene has a Stocks widget, while the Social offers a Twitter widget. Those can be customized, of course.

You select a Scene within a fancy-looking 3D card interface. You can modify existing scenes and you can acquire more scenes at the HTC Hub.

Switching between scenes takes a couple of seconds but sure allows wide customization – the business and personal modes that some competing phones offer seem quite limited compared to the HTC Scenes.

Preset scenes • Scenes change the arrangement of widgets on the homescreen

The HTC Sense has another customization option called Skins. Every skin changes the see and feel of most of the onclassy screen buttons, application screens, option menus, and other items. They also come with unique wallpaper and can set different colors to various UI elements. They can also replace the standard dock, lockclassy screen and widacquire frames with custom ones or change their shape.

Unfortunately, the ChaCha comes with only two skins pre-installed, but you can always acquire more off the HTC Hub.

Only two preloaded skins • Skins change the see of the Sense interface

The main menu has the typical grid layout with vertically scrollable pages (just like we saw on the HTC Sensation), or you can switch to a list. You can utilize the keyboard to quickly find apps - just start typing the name and ChaCha will list matching apps instantly.

The grid layout • settings • List view has two-finger alphabet scroll

The main menu has three tabs: All apps, Frequent apps and Favorites. They are quite useful especially when you have lots of installed applications.

You can search by

Tapping the Personalize button brings out a whole classy screen of things to choose from – for the display (scenes, wallpapers and skin), for the homeclassy screen (widgets, shortcuts, folders, etc.) and even sounds (ringtones, alarms, notifications and Sound set).

The Personalize menu

In the widacquire section, both types of widgets (custom HTC and stock Android) are placed on the same page. There are so many of them you may find the seven small homeclassy screen panes short. You can download recent widgets off the Market or the HTC Hub.

Plenty of HTC widgets

When you select a widacquire you are prompted to choose between several versions – most widgets have at least two styles. The different versions typically offer at least two sizes of the widacquire and different skins. For example, there are five different clocks. Picking a small version of a widacquire makes a lot of sense with the ChaCha. It doesn’t exactly have classy screen real estate to squander on large widgets, though truth be told, smaller widgets can be hard to read on a classy screen this small.

Some different styles of the Clock widget

Some widacquire styles even offer different functionality. One version of the Fridiscontinue Stream widacquire for instance shows updates from the people you follow and lets you update status or tweet. The second version is more compact and only allows status updates and tweets. A third one is also available showing only your friends’ status updates with no option to update yours. There's nothing stopping you from using all of them, of course.

The three versions of the Fridiscontinue Stream widacquire are functionally different

The notification area is simplified compared to the one in Sense UI 3.0. It only lists the missed/ongoing events, there's no recent app list or an extra tab with power toggles for Wi-Fi, GPS and the like.

The notification area and task switcher

We didn’t have high hopes for the ChaCha performance at first but when HTC announced that they will be upgrading it to an 800Mega Hertz (MHz) processor (instead of the originally announced 600MHz), we made a note to benchimprint it and see how it performs against similarly powered competition.

Benchmarks showed the performance is what you'd expect from an old-gen single gen chipset running at 800MHz. Results were on par with the Samsung Galaxy Ace, whose relevant specs are identical, and ahead of the refreshed Wildfire S model.

We didn’t have a matching set of benchmarks for the HTC Desire Z, but the much better BenchmarkPi results (2059 for the ChaCha and 1282 for the Froyo-running Z) show that having newer architecture is more vital than pure clock speed.

HTC ChaCha benchmarks (800Mega Hertz (MHz) CPU, 512Mega Bytes (MB) RAM, Android 2.3 Gingerbread)

Samsung Galaxy Ace benchmarks (800Mega Hertz (MHz) CPU, Android 2.2 Froyo)

HTC Wildfire S (600Mega Hertz (MHz) CPU, 512Mega Bytes (MB) RAM, Android 2.3 Gingerbread)

The recent lockclassy screen that impressed us so much in the Sensation makes an appearance in the ChaCha too. By default, it has four shortcuts and a ring at the bottom. You drag the ring towards the center of the classy screen to unlock the phone.

Or, you can drag any of the shortcuts into the ring to unlock the phone and launch the corresponding app. You can assign any four apps to the lockclassy screen that you like. You can install other lockscreens too, each with a different function. You'll have to visit HTC Hub for that one though as the ChaCha comes with only one lockclassy screen preinstalled.

Using the lockclassy screen • setting up the four shortcuts

The quick boot feature is enabled in the HTC ChaCha but it won’t work if you have removed the battery – in that case it will do a regular slow boot.

The cool thing is apps preserve their state after the restart – so if you were browsing a website before shutting the down phone, the browser will restore your session.

Our guess is, HTC has used some sort of Suspdiscontinue or Hibernate logic as we know them from regular computers to implement the quick boot.



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