I’ve now had some feedback on 3′s INQ1 handset from my tame social networking Normobs! My ‘representative’ sample included both teenagers and adults and interestingly the verdict has been fairly similar across them all.
My reservations about the handset user interface were maybe a reflection on my love of quality mobile devices because my Normob panel were fairly happy with the design and interface. We moved on to the social networking applications where I was looking for feedback on whether the INQ1 appealed to people who enjoyed using Facebook, Live Messenger and Skype on their PCs.
Facebook was universally criticised for being slow and not particularly easy to read. This mirrored my experience where the application seemed to spend most of its time ‘refreshing’ and ‘loading’. This was a disappointment as it’s one of the unique features of the handset but it seems that this key social networking application is a big miss on the INQ1. One comment I received was that updating Facebook once a day is enough so having it on a handset is not particularly important.
It’s in the less unique applications that the INQ1 seemed to score. Feedback on Live Messenger was much more positive. This worked well and everyone liked it. Being able to carry on instant messaging when out and about is clearly a popular activity. Teenagers don’t seem to be big Skype users so this application didn’t engender as much interest, although adults did show some interest in it. I think from a Normob perspective Skype is still seen as a PC based communications tool.
Another area where the INQ1 seems to fail is in the area of delivering predictability of costs to users. Feedback suggested it’s not clear when the user is generating additional data costs and the prepay balance seemed to disappear remarkably quickly even with fairly limited use. 3 needs to be much clearer about what’s included and what isn’t, to avoid ‘bill shock’.
The Messages application was popular because of the way it displays inboxes for SMS, Facebook (mail, pokes and messages), Live Messenger, Skype and email on a single screen. This is a reasonable attempt at integrating all received messages in one place which users seem to like and plays to the social networking theme.
The rebooting problem I experienced initially seems to have settled down Ã¢â‚¬â€œ maybe I’m a bit hard on my handsets!
So, overall a more positive verdict than I was expecting. The INQ1 does have some rough edges and the disappointment with the Facebook application reduces its credibility as a social networking device. However the handset does appeal to users who want to be able to add instant messaging to calling and texting on the move and it achieves this at a reasonable price.
Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.