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Hands-on with the T-Mobile myTouch 4G

T-Mobile's second HSPA+ device is now available as the myTouch 4G. I liked it so much that my wife and I both picked one up.
matthew-miller
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributor writer on

My plan for this month was to purchase a new HTC HD7 Windows Phone 7 device, but after swinging by the T-Mobile store with my wife we ended up getting plum and white myTouch 4G smartphones. She was getting tired of not having access to her email and other advanced phone features so we decided to upgrade her line to include data and get her first smartphone. I had her check out the HD7, myTouch 4G, Motorola Defy, LG Optimus, and RIM BlackBerry 9700. She liked the HD7 and myTouch 4G, but after seeing that the HD7 camera was not as good as the myTouch 4G and how you could more easily customize and multi-task with the myTouch 4G she was sold on this device. I have now spent several days with the myTouch 4G and you can see some photos of the device in my image gallery. I also have a YouTube video and more first impressions below. I will be posting my personal comparison between the HD7 and myTouch 4G soon as I try to figure out which new smartphone I am going with on T-Mobile.


Image Gallery: Check out photos of the myTouch 4G on T-Mobile.
Image Gallery: myTouch 4G in hand
Image Gallery: myTouch 4G retail package

In the box and first impressions

The packaging of the MT4G (myTouch 4G) is similar to what we have seen before with the myTouch devices with a nice zippered case that can be used to carry around devices and accessories. In the bed of foam on the left you find the A/C adapter, stereo headset, and USB cable. On the center flap you will find several pamphlets and guides in the net pocket. The MT4G is placed in a foam insert in the right side of the case and everything is well protected and presented.

I have tried out myTouch devices in the past and while they were decent devices they all had a feel to them that they were cheaper than the high end smartphone. I think this was mainly due to the glossy plastic and weight of the devices more than anything. This is definitely NOT the case with the MT4G and this baby is rock solid. My plum one has soft touch colored areas around the device and on the back while my wife's white one is glossy plastic. The MT4G has awesome curves and angles around the edges and feels awesome in your hand. They physical hardware buttons and back metal cover give the device more quality touches and you will not be disappointed with the hardware.

Specifications

Specifications for the T-Mobile myTouch 4G include the following:

  • Android 2.2 with custom HTC experience
  • Second generation Qualcomm MSM 8255 1GHz processor
  • Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G (1700/2100 MHz) with HSPA+ support
  • 3.8 inch WVGA (480x800) capacitive Super LCD display
  • Integrated 4GB flash memory, about 1.2 GB available
  • 768MB RAM and microSD card (8GB included)
  • 5 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • Dedicated, Home, Menu, Back and Genius buttons
  • Optical trackpad
  • Proximity sensor, light sensor and digital compass
  • Integrated A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 1400 mAh battery
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.44 x 0.43 inches and 5 ounces

This is just the second HSPA+ smartphone for T-Mobile and IMHO is the better of the two (the G2 being the other one). The front facing camera and fast processor are stand out specifications for T-Mobile too.

Walk around the hardware

Unlike other devices where the display takes up nearly all of the front, you will find some rather large areas above and below the 3.8 inch display. The top has a funky looking headset speaker with the front facing camera to the right of it and myTouch branding below this. The proximity sensor and light sensor are located in this upper area too.

Below the display you will find five phyiscal buttons for Home, Menu, Back, Genius, and an optical trackpad. Most every Android device I have been using lately has touch sensitive areas and I am actually really liking these physical buttons that I can press and know they were activated.

I am not having a lot of luck with the Genius button and software. You are supposed to be able to press it and then have the software send text messages, call people, search the web, find addresses, and more with your voice. Every time I press the button it tells me to wait as it voice activates my contact list. It should be able to do this once and then work fine after that and I am trying to find out how to stop it from attempting to make this voice activation so if you have any tips on this feel free to let me know.

The only thing on the right side is the physical camera button which is used to launch the camera software and focus/capture photos and video. I personally am a big fan of these buttons and having this pleased me wife as well.

A mic opening is on the bottom while the power button and 3.5mm headset jack are found on the top. A volume button, microUSB port, and three connection pins are placed on the left side.

The back is dominated by a large metal battery cover that has some styling with the T-Mobile and HTC logos. The metal cover was quite difficult for me to remove with short fingernails and I resorted to placing a coin under the opening and flipping the metal cover off. Underneath the metal cover you will find the battery, SIM card slot, and microSD card slot.

The 5 megapixel camera and flash are located at the top of the back. The camera protrudes out a bit, but is also protected by a built up area of the back casing around the camera lens.

I cannot say it enough, but the MT4G feels absolutely fantastic in your hand and is extremely carressable. The 3.8 to 4 inch display may be the perfect sweet spot for these high end smartphones.

Walk through the software

The MT4G comes preloaded with the Android 2.2 (Froyo) operating system and a special flavor of the HTC Sense user interface. Thus, you will find support for Exchange email, calendar, and contacts with HTC widgets and apps, such as Friend Stream, HTC Sense launcher, HTC weather, myModes, Media Room, News, Peep, and Stocks. There are just a few bloatware games and apps that cannot be removed, such as Asphalt 5, T-Mobile TV, Qik Video Chat, and Monopoly Classic. I find the new T-Mobile TV and Qik Video Chat to be useful though so the customization is pretty minimal for a US wireless carrier and I am satisfied with what was done here.

I actually installed and am now using Launcher Pro since it lets me hide some of the extra apps I do not want to use or see on the application launcher screen.

There are a few additional apps included on the myTouch 4G, such as the DLNA-powered Screen Share application. I do not have any DLNA devices to test this with though so it might be a bit ahead of its time.

You will also find an app called Media Room and tapping on this brings you to a central hub for your media that includes music, video, FM radio, and even Slacker. This is an awesome way for an Android device to finally show it can handle and help you manage multimedia on your smartphone.

The MT4G has the new WiFi Calling utility that lets you take and receive calls via a WiFi router. Keep in mind this is different from the UMA technology found in previous devices and in the BlackBerry Bold 9700 as UMA automatically transferred calls between WiFi and the carrier connection. This WiFi Calling is simply calls made over WiFi and if you get out of range of your router the call will drop. WiFi Calling is free, but does consume plan minutes so if you do not have unlimited keep this in mind. This feature is designed to make sure you have a good signal in your home to place calls and since we already have a very good T-Mobile signal I do not see using this often.

The MT4G is the first device to launch with the WiFi Hotspot utility and it is exactly like the one on my HTC EVO 4G. This service costs just $15 per month (compared to Sprint's $29.99 per month) and turns your MT4G into a portable WiFi hotspot, similar to a MiFi, where you can share a connection with up to five other devices.

I am a big fan of the Android operating system and use Google Maps Navigation all of the time. I like the multi-tasking, support for all the apps I like to use, customizable home screens, widget support, and so much more.

Pricing, availability, and experiences

The myTouch 4G is available now on T-Mobile for $199.99 with a $50 mail-in rebate for those who want a 2-year contract or extension. The full Even More Plus (no contract) price is $449.99.

The MT4G has performed reliably since I bought it last week with the battery lasting me a full day, phone calls sounding quite good through the headset and speakerphone, and download speeds screaming even in areas where I thought the signal would be weak. This size device is just about perfect for your shirt or pants pocket and has been a pleasure to use so far.

I REALLY like the rock solid feel and functionality of the MT4G. It is one of the best Android phones I have tried and I am now trying to decide if I keep it and get rid of my EVO 4G on Sprint or return the MT4G and keep my new HTC HD7. There are too many excellent devices on T-Mobile and I need more lines ;)

If you have any thoughts or recommendations to help me with my decision feel free to chime in. Also, if you have any questions as I work on an updated review that covers the image quality, media capability, and many more details please post them below.

Other reviews

As I continue to check out the myTouch 4G, I recommend you check out the following reviews for more information and thoughts on the device:

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