Our myTouch 4G review has arrived! Is this myTouch smartphone T-Mobile's new über-smartphone for the mainstream user?
myTouch 4G Overview
We've been reviewing a hefty amount of T-Mobile phones lately, and the reason is that the network is doing everything in its power to give Verizon Wireless and AT&T fierce competition. So, they've been cranking out a lot of high-end phones—one of which is the T-Mobile myTouch 4G. T-Mobile's revamped myTouch looks like a speedracer on paper with a revamped 1GHz Snapdragon processor, Android 2.2, and HSPA+ speeds. The phone also flaunts a Genius button, front-facing camera for Qik and Yahoo Messenger chats, and T-Mobile jazz like Faves for organizing contacts. Let's not forget the 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and 720p HD video capability on the T-Mobile myTouch 4G, or the phone's super slim body. Yes, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G will definitely look good in the store, but we uncovered a few bugs and sticks in the phone's spokes, so read on before you settle on a myTouch 4G.
myTouch 4G Design
The most profound architectural traits on the T-Mobile myTouch 4G are its super slim thickness and large, 3.8-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen. These are the first things we noticed when we picked up the device—how easy it was to slip into a pocket and how glossy and smooth the giant screen seemed to feel on our fingers. Touch sensitivity is superb on the T-Mobile myTouch 4G, and HTC even gave us tangible buttons located at the bottom of the display. Home, Menu, Back, and Genius buttons loomed over the optical track pad, which was styled similarly to BlackBerry's track pad design. We didn't use the optical track pad much, since the phone's touch interface was all we needed—the phone is called the myTouch after all.
One last thing about the T-Mobile myTouch 4G's façade is the front-facing camera located in the top right corner. The rest of the phone is fairly standard. We have our 3.5mm audio jack and Power/Lock button on top, Volume control and USB terminal on the left side, and Camera button on the right side. The back of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G houses the 5-megapixel camera with single LED flash and speaker. The phone is a sexy little bastard, featuring a crimson red border and black patterned back hatch. One thing we discovered about this phone is that if you drop it, the hatch comes flying off, along with the battery, which is exceedingly annoying. Inside the T-Mobile myTouch 4G is an 8GB MicroSD card nestled in a 32GB capacity MicroSD card slot. The T-Mobile myTouch 4G is sleek, portable, and rather delicate. We're not sure how this phone will last in the durability department.
myTouch 4G Navigation and Interface
Now it's time for T-Mobile's myTouch interface on top of Android 2.2. Throw in a second-generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor with 45nm process technology, which achieves actual 1GHz clock times, and we should have a phone that lights the competition on fire and sends the EVO 4G and Droid X running for their mommies.
Well, unfortunately, we did not have that experience. For some reason, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G was riddled with bugs and jitters. These were intermittent problems that seemed to plague simple tasks like opening the Gallery, selecting an Application from the recent task bar, and opening up a program. But the most striking litmus test was the T-Mobile myTouch 4G's stuttering, lagging frame rate in HD video mode, which would "stick" on a frame and freeze until 5 seconds later. This we will delve into in the imaging section, but we wanted to give you a heads up before you get there.
Aside from the T-Mobile myTouch 4G's peculiar bugs, the phone itself is a dynamite little device. It's compatible with Yahoo Messenger or Qik for video chat, which is free, and the myTouch interface is definitely a different phone experience. We'll start with the Genius button, which is powered by Dragon Dictation and completes commands upon request. For instance, we could press the Genius button, say "Find pizza place," and the T-Mobile myTouch 4G would automatically bring up a Google maps search of all the pizza joints in town. We could also call contacts, compose emails, and complete various other tasks using the Genius button.
Then we had Faves, which organized all of our favorite contacts into a circular retro roulette wheel that floated in space. T-Mobile offered a Faves widget that allowed us to instantly access our tops picks, in addition to special treatment family members. myModes let us customize Home screens for home and work, and speaking of Home screens, the myTouch 4G has 5 with the ability to view them all on one screen. For social networking we got Friend Stream, which bundled our Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google, and Qik contacts into one giant stream that took too much time to wade through. The T-Mobile myTouch 4G comes with Asphalt 5, Rock Band, and Monopoly, but they're all demos. YouTube offered HQ video content, but of course the phone was too jittery to play them, even over Wi-Fi.
Feature-wise, the phone is stocked, offering Exchange and email support, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Flash support with the ability to watch videos in the browser, Android keyboard with Swype, Quickoffice, and Screen Share, which uses DLNA technology to stream pictures and videos taken with the phone wirelessly to a compatible HDTV. Yet, many of these features we have already seen, only in different packaging.
myTouch 4G Call Quality/Battery Life
We had no major complaints while talking on the T-Mobile myTouch 4G. Calls were clean and there was no major background hissing or static. Background noise tended to be a slight issue in very loud environments, but overall, the phone performed well when it came to talking.
On the battery end of things, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G's stamina was subpar. After a full charge and minimal usage, our battery was almost flat lining later in the same day. Don't expect the best battery life out of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G.
myTouch 4G Image/Video Quality
Digital still imaging was one of the few arenas we happened to really enjoy on the T-Mobile myTouch 4G. For some reason, the 5-megapixel camera produced impressive detail in bright light and exhibited one of the best low light sensitivities we've seen on a phone, next to the iPhone 4. The myTouch 4G exposed where most phones couldn't, even when we shot without a flash. The camera interface is the best we've seen on a phone as well, giving us a few manual controls like ISO and White Balance, but implementing an extensive list of digital filters and adjustable Scene modes that allowed us to adjust the depth of field, distortion, vignette, and tonality. We also got Negative, Sepia, Solarize, Posterize, three different retro modes, and a few other odds and sods. A good amount of the digital filters could be applied in video mode as well. So, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G wins the best camera interface award, with an honorable mention for still image quality.
However, video quality was a different story. The phone records 720p HD video, but it's a grab bag as far as quality. Remember how we talked about the myTouch 4G's tendency to lag? Well, it migrates to video mode too, forcing the framerate to lag significantly, to the point where frames freeze for up to 5 seconds. This is an atrocity. You'll see what we mean in our video samples. Also, video quality was not up to par, lacking detail and producing poor sound. It definitely won't be worth streaming a lagging, undefined 720p video that rivals entry-level VGA video phones on the big screen with Screen Share.
The bottom line is that we're not sure if the T-Mobile myTouch 4G can handle all of the advanced content that is being piped out at a rapid rate. Although the phone touts a second-generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor, we saw more evidence of lagging and bugginess than we've seen on a phone in quite some time. And if High Quality YouTube content is giving this thing trouble, then what's going to happen with advanced 3D games, high resolution movies, and video chats? We certainly wouldn't play the videos we recorded in front of a crowd, due to their choppy, amateurish look and feel.
The T-Mobile myTouch 4G is a very good mainstream smartphone when it comes to its interface, still image quality, and HSPA+ speeds. But in a sea of smartphones that are all nearly uniform, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G does not stand out as one of the prized catches of the day. Instead, the phone is more like a satisfying shrimp cocktail—an appetizer that must work its way into the entrée section of the menu. But this shrimp's got to get rid of its bugs before anyone will want to eat it.
Price and Availability
The T-Mobile myTouch 4G is available now for $200 with a new two-year contract and an instant $50 online rebate.