Hands on: T-Mobile myTouch 3G Google Android device is all about you

Summary:I was pretty excited about the launch of the T-Mobile G1 Google Android device last Fall and even flew out from Seattle to New York for just one day to attend the launch event. I still have my G1 and enjoy using it very much and have come to thoroughly enjoy the keyboard. T-Mobile continues to actively support the Google Android platform and will soon be launching the myTouch 3G. T-Mobile is focusing on the personalization and customization of the device, as I will talk about in my article. Check out the image gallery showing the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and Exchange client, as well as the unboxing video showing the rather unique packaging.

I was pretty excited about the launch of the T-Mobile G1 Google Android device (see my extensive review) last Fall and even flew out from Seattle to New York for just one day to attend the launch event. I still have my G1 and enjoy using it very much and have come to thoroughly enjoy the keyboard. T-Mobile continues to actively support the Google Android platform and will soon be launching the myTouch 3G. I spent some time yesterday with T-Mobile and was given an evaluation unit to try out for a couple of weeks. After a couple hours of usage, I have to say I am quite impressed with the myTouch 3G and think it will do well. T-Mobile is focusing on the personalization and customization of the device, as I will talk about below. Check out my image gallery showing the T-Mobile myTouch 3G and Exchange client, as well as my unboxing video below. I don't usually shoot these unboxing videos anymore, but the T-Mobile packaging is quite unique and special so I thought it deserved its own video.


Image Gallery:A look at the upcoming T-Mobile myTouch 3G launching on the 5th of August.
Image Gallery: myTouch 3G retail packaging
Image Gallery: myTouch 3G in hand

When the T-Mobile G1 launched there were very few applications available in the Android Market and it took a while for developers to actively support the Market and provide options to customers. The T-Mobile G1 is also a bit of a clunky device that seemed to be targeted to the mobile geek. However, in the last few weeks I have seen more and more "normal" people using the G1. The Android Market has taken off over the last few months and now there are more than 6,300 applications available. HTC and T-Mobile also worked to improve and refine the hardware on this latest Google Android device and I think it will appeal to more consumers.

The major focus with the myTouch 3G is personalization and customization through wallpapers, icons, and applications. One application that will be available on the myTouch 3G is Sherpa and I plan to try it out over the next two weeks. Sherpa features GENIE (Geodelic Engine for Interest Evaluation) that will use location-based technology and learning to customize the experience based on your preferences and usage patterns. You will also find an accessory flier that shows you a collection of custom and colored backs that you can add to your device. T-Mobile wants to make the myTouch 3G an extension of you and with the options available I think the myTouch 3G really can satisfy this desire.

Specifications

Here is a rundown of the specifications of the T-Mobile myTouch 3G, with a list of the differences between it and the T-Mobile G1 shown below:
  • 3.2 inch 320x480 pixels capacitive touchscreen display
  • Quad-band GSM and dual-band UMTS (1700/2100 MHz) support for 3G data
  • 528 MHz processor
  • 192 MB RAM and 512 MB ROM
  • Google Android OS 1.5
  • 4 GB microSD card
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo support
  • Integrated 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • 3.2 megapixel auto focus camera
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Trackball navigation
  • HTC extUSB/mini USB port for charging/syncing/headset
  • 1340 mAh Lithium ion battery
  • Weight of 4.1 ounces
  • Size of 4.45 x 2.19 x 0.58 inches

Looking through the list of specs you can see that the myTouch 3G has double the ROM (512 vs 256), 190 more mAh capacity battery (bump from 1150 mAh to 1340 mAh), and an upgrade from 1GB to 4GB for the included microSD card. You do lose the QWERTY keyboard and this is actually something I just don't think I could give up.

I also understand that T-Mobile has improved the RF reception on the myTouch 3G.

T-Mobile is also offering customers the option to purchase a full two-year warranty that covers the contract length of the device.

In the box

As I showed in my unboxing video, T-Mobile knocked it out of the park with the packaging of the myTouch 3G. There is an attractive cardboard sleeve wrapped around the carrying pouch. The pouch is high quality material with a durable zipper embedded with myTouch 3G. Inside the case you will find the myTouch 3G, battery, 4GB microSD card, slick charger (modeled after the myTouch 3G with its own little chin), USB cable, 3.5mm stereo headset, stereo headset adapter with mic and call controls, and high quality slip case (similar to a high end sunglass case). The packaging is very impressive and I think T-Mobile buyers will really enjoy the experience.

I was very pleased to see the 3.5mm headset adapter/call controller dongle that was included since it save you a few bucks and also lets you use your own personal headset with the adapter to listen to music and handle calls.

There is a Tips & Tricks pamphlet and accessory flier that are quite informative and helpful so make sure to check these out. T-Mobile also includes a screen protector for the myTouch 3G to keep it protected in your pocket.

Hardware

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G comes in white, merlot (a reddish color with sparkles on the back cover), and black. The black one has a soft touch back while the white and merlot back covers are slick plastic. The plastic used in the myTouch 3G feels very durable and high quality and is definitely not a cheap flimsy plastic. The bottom "chin" is subtle and I can't say enough how good the myTouch 3G feels in your hand.

The display takes up the majority of the front of the device and looks fantastic. The turtle and fish undersea default wallpaper blew me away when I first turned on the myTouch 3G. Below the display you will find the home, menu, back, search, send, and end buttons arranged in two groups of three. In the center you will find a trackball that is larger than the one seen on the G1. The trackball also lights up when notifications are received. The end key is also used as the power button for the myTouch and I prefer this over a dedicated button located elsewhere. There is a small indicator light up in the right side of the headset speaker.

There is nothing located on the top or right side of the myTouch 3G. The HTC extUSB (miniUSB) port is found on the bottom of the device and is used for syncing, charging, and headset functionality. There is a volume rocker on the upper left side.

A 3.2 megapixel auto-focus camera is placed in the center of the upper portion on the back with Google branding and a My logo.

That is it for the hardware, simple and yet elegant.

Software

The myTouch 3G is loaded with the Android 1.5 operating system. It is important to also understand that there are three "flavors" of the Google Android operating system; generic Android, Google-optimized version, and HTC-focused version. The upcoming HTC Hero is an HTC-focused version with a custom UI that lacks some of the well-integrated Google services. The T-Mobile G1 and myTouch 3G are Google-optimized versions with Google Maps, Google Search by voice (press and hold the search key), Google Maps, Google Talk, Amazon MP3 store, and more.

I was also pleased to see the application icon labeled "Work Email" that designates Microsoft Exchange. As you can see in the screenshots from my image gallery you get full Exchange email support. It also seems that the application may support meeting creation and response, but I have to test it out further to make sure what all the features are.

You will now be able to use the native Gmail client with your primary Gmail account, the POP/IMAP client with other email accounts, and the Work Email/Exchange client with your office Exchange account all from a single device.

I also plan to test out Sherpa and other applications highlighted on the myTouch 3G.

You still cannot install applications to the microSD card and T-Mobile explained to me that this was a security concern they had with application and content sharing. They did double the onboard memory though so I doubt your average user will even notice an issue.

Pricing, service options, and availability

The myTouch 3G will be available to new subscribers for $199.99 on the 5th of August. Existing T-Mobile customers can pre-order the device and have it guaranteed by 5 August, but the price will probably be in the $350 range. The price is dependent on how much of your existing contract you have left to fulfill.

Closing initial thoughts

I really wasn't expecting too much from the myTouch 3G since I am pretty happy with the T-Mobile G1 and thought going to this device would be a step backward due to the lack of a QWERTY keyboard. The myTouch 3G is a very impressive piece of hardware that feels great in your hand. The vibration, you can toggle it on or off, that you feel when you tap the on screen keyboards with their predictive text helps make the onscreen keyboard experience quite good. If you held out and thought the G1 was too geeky, then I think you will enjoy the myTouch 3G.

Please let me know if you have further questions as I dive into using the device over the next couple of weeks and report back then.

Topics: Hardware, Google, Mobility, Wi-Fi

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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