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T-Mobile myTouch 3G Review

 

T-Mobile myTouch 3G Review

 
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Design

The original T-Mobile G1 was an ugly phone, a boxy clunker with a jutting chin, so we were happy to find the sleek, colorful and gently curving T-Mobile myTouch 3G. It's a much nicer looking device, with a larger, improved trackball. Even the screen seems more vivid, and the T-Mobile G1's display seems a bit cooler in color temperature by comparison. Still, these aesthetic improvements hardly run skin deep. First, the screen on the myTouch 3G wasn't as responsive as the display on our G1, which is a serious problem considering the T-Mobile myTouch 3G relies on the screen for everything, including the keyboard. We prefer the button layout on the G1, with it's centered menu button. Also, the buttons in Android were inconsistent. Sometimes you'll press Back to retreat to the last screen, but sometimes Back will hop you out to the home screen.

The Android interface still holds up, but the T-Mobile myTouch 3G is essentially the exact same phone as the G1 in terms of software. The phone has far more customization options than the Apple iPhone 3GS, which is probably why this is T-Mobile's main focus with the myTouch 3G. You can easily change and rearrange the homescreen, adding new apps, live Widgets and even smart folders to one of the three homescreen panels. Best of all, Google allows developers deep access to the basic interface elements, so if you don't like the dialer and favorites menu, there's a replacement waiting in the Google Market (Phonebook). Or if you want a more convenient settings menu, there's a better one available (Toggle Settings). We haven't seen developers take such an active role improving basic functions on any other smartphone.

Calling

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G sounded better during calls than its predecessor, the G1, and we found call quality to be very pleasing. There was a bit of static on our end of calls, and even more on our callers end, but for the most part voices were clear and tonally accurate. Reception was usually good, a full 4 bars of service (the highest level on this phone), though we often lost 3G signal as we traveled around the Dallas metro area. Still, even without 3G, calls went through and sounded consistently good. Battery life was also improved on this phone, and we managed more than 6.5 hours of talking in a single call, an impressive feat for a 3G, touchscreen phone. We wish that T-Mobile would bring their Android phones into their @Home calling lineup, which would allow Wi-Fi calling using UMA technology. We're fans of UMA calling and T-Mobile's @Home calls present an interesting bargain option for long talkers.

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G can synchronize with an online Gmail address book, so if you don't have a complete contact list on Google, you'll have to do some legwork. Though the myTouch 3G ships with a unique Work E-mail app that can access a Microsoft Exchange server, the phone can't synchronize with an Exchange ActiveSync address book. This is a real failure on T-Mobile's part, since many Exchange users (ourselves included) might expect to find their corporate contacts on the myTouch 3G, as long as T-Mobile is advertising Exchange support. We'd also like to see Google do more to integrate social network contacts, like the Palm Pre does with Facebook accounts.

For other calling features, the T-Mobile myTouch 3G does well, and it's going to get even better. T-Mobile has already announced an official Visual Voicemail app for their Android devices (to go along with the third-party apps already available in the Google Market). They haven't talked pricing yet, and the app wasn't available at press time for us to try out, but we're happy to see that the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the G1 will soon benefit, since visual voicemail is one of our favorite calling features. Otherwise, conference calling on the myTouch 3G was easy enough, though it could have been a bit more intuitive. The speakerphone sounded clear, but it didn't quite have the volume you'll need to hear it over loud car noises.

Messaging

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G has a nice raft of messaging apps, but we wish they were more unified. There's an app for text messaging, and the myTouch uses threaded messaging, so you'll see all your text messages as a conversation, which is more pleasant than viewing messages one by one. There's an app for Google Talk, and another IM app for AOL, MSN and Yahoo. These both looked pretty good and were reliable and quick in our IM tests.

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