Jumat, 29 Oktober 2010
T-Mobile myTouch 4G
The myTouch 4G feels, in a word, expensive. Relatively heavy at 5 ounces and measuring 4.8 by 2.44 by .43 inches (HWD), with a metal back and a somewhat ceramicized plastic bezel, it feels like it could pound the comparatively flimsy Samsung Vibrant ($199, 4 stars) into powder. The phone comes in white, black, purple and red—the unit I reviewed was black.
The myTouch uses hard buttons rather than touch button for its back, menu and home buttons, so they're easier to use in the dark or without looking than the Vibrant's buttons. There's also a small touch pad below the attractive 800x480 LCD screen, for navigating without using the Phone Calling and Internet Access
The myTouch is a good voice phone. Reception was average. Voice quality was very good—maybe a touch tinny rather than rich in sound, but always clear and comprehensible. A little bit of background noise came through the mic, but my voice sounded loud and clear on the other side. The speakerphone is fine; it's actually located on the back of the phone, so it's especially loud if you turn the phone around. Battery life was excellent at 8 hours, 5 minutes of talk time.
I had no problem connecting the myTouch to both my Aliph Jawbone Icon ($99, 4 stars) mono Bluetooth headset and Altec Lansing BackBeat ($99.99-$129.99, 3.5 stars) stereo Bluetooth headphones. Thanks to Nuance's Dragon Dictation technology, which T-Mobile built in to the phone, the myTouch has the best voice command system on any Android phone available. Not only can you do voice dialing over Bluetooth, you can even dictate entire text messages! The dictation wasn't perfect, and you have to press a hardware button to send the message, but it's definitely usable—it's a big step beyond the usual afterthought-level voice dialing.
I was thrilled to see Wi-Fi calling enabled here, but it's not yet as good as on T-Mobile's Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerries. You can tweak the settings to "prefer Wi-Fi" or "prefer cellular," which is great, but Wi-Fi calls almost always started with a bit of an audio glitch, and got quite garbled when signal wasn't absolutely terrific. A call made at a local Starbucks was touch-and-go - definitely below cellular quality. Calls also drop as soon as you move out of a Wi-Fi network. While it's great that T-Mobile offers the option at all, the quality here is a step back from the BlackBerry 8520 and 9700.
The myTouch 4G is the second phone (after the T-Mobile G2) to run on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. Theoretically, HSPA+ phones run at speeds up to 14.4 Mbps and T-Mobile's HSPA+ network runs up to 21 Mbps, though you'll never get those speeds in practical use; in real life, the phones should get speeds up to 7 Mbps down. I got a reliable 2 Mbps in midtown Manhattan with this phone, but since I also got the same speed with a USB modem at roughly the same time, the problem seemed to be with the network rather than the phone. The phone also works on 3G and 2G networks overseas.
T-Mobile hasn't offered a phone in a long time with an official tethering option, and the myTouch is both the first to restart that trend, and the very first to work as a Wi-Fi hotspot. I connected the phone to a PC as both a wired modem and a Wi-Fi hotspot very easily, getting the same 2 Mbps speeds I saw on the phone. Tethering is free at the moment, but a T-Mobile rep said the company will start charging for it quite soon, so beware. At least T-Mobile says it'll try to keep prices reasonable. The myTouch has Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and GPS on board as well, and both work fine.
Software and Services
The myTouch 4G runs the absolute latest version of Android, 2.2.1, on the brand-new 1 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255 processor with lots of T-Mobile and HTC software customizations.
The second-generation Snapdragon has leapt ahead to match the performance of Samsung's Hummingbird, which was until now the fastest mobile-phone processor on the US market. Processor-based and OpenGL graphics benchmarks matched or exceeded the Hummingbird-based, Android 2.2-running Samsung Galaxy Tab ($399-599, 3.5 stars). Almost all of the myTouch's benchmarks beat the Samsung Vibrant, but that could be because the Vibrant is running the slower Android 2.1.
In addition to the speed boost, Android 2.2 brings Flash 10.1 to the browser—and, well, it kinda works. It's slow. Animations can be jerky. But you can see the content, play it, and interact with it. This isn't a desktop-quality experience—frankly, even the Palm Pre 2 has better Flash capability—but it gets the job done.
If you're one of those fetishists who loves "stock Android," you'll be sent screaming for a T-Mobile G2 ($199, 4 stars). But there's a lot to like about the customization on the myTouch. Swype makes an appearance on the touch keyboards, speeding text entry by letting you drag your finger across the screen without lifting it. Swype takes a little while to get used to, but is lightning fast once you get the hang of it.
HTC's address book and email apps are excellent. You can pick some contacts to be your "faves" and see their email by itself; you can also view unread messages only, or browse your Exchange folders. Facebook is integrated into contact cards, and you can check out your friends' most recent messages and photo albums from their contact cards.
HTC and T-Mobile have both also added an array of media, PIM and social networking widgets to make your seven home screens more useful.
T-Mobile and HTC have preloaded a bunch of other apps as well. You can take them or leave them, but unfortunately you can't delete them—not even the game demos. In general, they're a clutter and a hodgepodge, including a DLNA media streaming app, a desk clock mode, a flashlight, a barcode scanner and those game demos.
Media support is excellent. The myTouch comes with 1 GB of available on-board memory and an 8GB MicroSD card in a slot under the back cover; our 16GB SanDisk card also worked fine.
The myTouch has a Media Room app that combines a music player, video player, an FM radio and Slacker radio. The music player displays album art and works with a wide range of unprotected formats, including AAC, MP3, WMA, OGG and WAV. The video player handles a wide range of codecs, including H.264 and DIVX/XVID, up to 720p resolution. If you want to sync your media with a PC or Mac, the myTouch comes with the DoubleTwist (free, 4 stars) software already on board: plug the phone into your computer with a USB cable and it will mount a drive showing the DoubleTwist installer.
The MobiTV-powered T-Mobile TV debuts on the MyTouch, offering lots of big-name, streaming TV programming for $9.99/month via a slick, animated interface. They've got ESPN, the Disney Channel and A-Team reruns; what's not to love? Video quality over 3G is soft and jaggy, but shows looked sharp and smooth over a Wi-Fi network. If you'd rather watch free videos, the YouTube app plays in HD as well.
The myTouch has a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a VGA camera on the front, primarily for video calling. Two-way video calling will come from Qik, which means you'll be able to make video calls to the Sprint Epic 4G ($249, 4 stars) and the HTC EVO 4G ($199, 4 stars) phones as well as Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets, at the very least. But Qik advised me that an optimized version of the chat software won't be ready until November 3, so I can't yet tell you how well it works.
The main camera actaully defaults to taking 3.7-megapixel photos—to get your full five, you have to turn off "widescreen" mode, which is irritating and not obvious. Photos looked relatively sharp and clear, but the autofocus sometimes took about a second to lock in, which resulted in the occasional quick, blurry photo. You can turn off autofocus as long as you always take pictures of things at least four feet away.
The video mode shoots at up to 720p (1280x720) resolution. Outdoor videos looked smooth but rather oversaturated, running at 29 frames per second. Indoor, low-light videos were jerky in HD mode but smoother when I knocked the resolution down to 640x480.
There are three great Android-powered smartphones on T-Mobile right now, and you have reasons to consider all of them. Get the T-Mobile G2 if you need a physical keyboard, or if you're a Google fanatic. Get the Samsung Vibrant if you want the slimmest, lightest high-powered phone available. Everyone else should pick the T-Mobile myTouch 4G for its HSPA+ Internet speeds, Wi-Fi calling, future hotspot mode, and Android 2.2. The up-to-date software makes the myTouch our current Editors' Choice for T-Mobile smartphones without a physical keyboard..