INQ1 , the world’s first social networking phone from 3, was named ‘Best Mobile Handset or Device’ at the Global Mobile Awards (GSMA) in Barcelona this week.

INQ1, beat strong competition from four other contenders: the Nokia E71, T-Mobile G1, RIM Blackberry Storm and LG KS3

This award is the most coveted and fiercely contested prize in the mobile industry and is given to a device with the combination of design, technical excellence and functionality that comes together to position a product at the top of its market.

Mobile network 3 launched the INQ1 to Irish customers in January 2009 as the world’s most advanced social networking phone. The handset was developed by INQ Mobile, a subsidiary of 3’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa, with the aim of creating a category of consumer devices that put social networking, email and instant messaging at the heart of innovative mass-market mobiles.

Commenting on INQ1’s prestigious win at the Global Mobile Awards, Robert Finnegan, Chief Executive of 3, said, “The INQ1 set out to change the way people communicate by integrating standard talk and text with the latest social networking trends and applications. 3 is delighted the INQ1 has been recognised by the global mobile community and we are proud to offer this mobile exclusively to our customers.”

“More than 20 million Facebook users currently access the site through their mobiles. This number has quadrupled over the last 12 months and we expect it to continue to grow as more people begin to connect with their friends and family through Facebook on innovative mobile devices, like the INQ1,” said Henri Moissinac, director of mobile, Facebook. “Congratulations to the INQ team for being recognised for the hard work they put into bringing a standout device to market.”

The INQ1 is specifically designed to make social networking as easy as making a call or sending a text, integrating Facebook, Skype and Window’s Live into the heart of the handset. The intuitive navigation offered by the switcher key and menu carousel, along with instant information provided by the home screen widgets and the integrated phonebook, deliver an experience so intuitive that it’s easy and fun to stay connected. The INQ1 has a 3.2MP camera that allows for photos to be directly uploaded to Facebook, while preloaded modem drivers mean the handset can double as a plug and play dongle.

The INQ1 is available exclusively from 3 on Prepay from €99. See three.ie for more information.