That said, you're not getting the stock Android 2.1 experience with the MyTouch 3G Slide. You still get the staple features: Google services, Microsoft Exchange support, full HTML Web browser, Quickoffice, as well as some of the latest capabilities such as Google Maps with Navigation and speech-to-text. The quad-band world phone also comes with all the wireless options we've come to expect on smartphones: 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. However, to differentiate itself from the competition and--more importantly--make the phone more connected and easy to use, T-Mobile also added its own custom user interface.
T-Mobile's interface doesn't have a fancy name and it's actually built on top of HTC Sense, so you'll see many elements of Sense on the phone, such as the Leap screen. You will, however, notice a marked difference when you open the main menu of apps. The icons are bit more bubbly, giving the phone a more consumer-friendly vibe, and there are three new features: the Faves Gallery, myModes, and the Genius Button.
The Faves Gallery is an extension of myFaves; by touching a dedicated soft button on the bottom right corner, you can instantly see and communicate with up to 20 of your favorite contacts. In addition, you'll receive a special alert in your notifications tray, and a custom green light will illuminate any time one of your Faves contacts you and updates his or her status. The whole idea is to make it easier to stay in touch with the people you care about the most.
It's great having such quick access to your top contacts, and the one-touch buttons for texting, calling, and sharing photos are nice as well. However, the feature didn't always provide us with the most up-to-date information. We often saw old Facebook status messages, which would take a few hours or even a day to update to the contact's most recent one. This may not be as important as having easy access to them, but still, it's a function we'd like to see improved in the future.
Next, we have myModes. This feature lets you customize your home screen with various apps, widgets, and wallpapers based on different themes, such as work, home, travel, and so forth. For example, if you're in Work mode, you can have your e-mail, calendar, and productivity apps front and center, but if you switch to Home mode, you can hide those and have your music player, photo gallery, and Web browser occupy the home screen. If you're familiar with HTC Sense, myModes is very similar to the Scenes feature on Sense.
Finally, there's the Genius Button. By doing a long press on the dedicated Genius Button on the phone, you can use voice commands to make calls, compose and send messages, and search the Web and maps, thanks to Nuance Communication's Dragon Dictation software. Not only that, but also the phone will read back text messages aloud and let you dictate responses in a more natural talking pattern, unlike some where you have to really enunciate and pause after each word.
For the most part, Genius works pretty well. It takes a few seconds for the phone to analyze what you've said, but the software also learns your voice the more you speak, so response time improved the more we used the feature. The voice search function is well integrated with the Web and Google Maps, and came in incredibly handy when we tried to look for places to eat or shop based on our location at the time. Genius was able to pick up our search terms even in louder environments, such as a busy intersection. The only problem we really had with the feature was when trying to compose messages, and it wasn't so much with the message transcription, rather the issue was with names. In one instance, we said "Jen" and the phone came back with a list of D names, including Darren and Dad. In another, we said "Kristen" and it came back with "Chris," "Kris," and "Christine." All close, but not right. Also, the voice that reads back text messages is a bit robotic and mispronunciations were pretty common.
Aside from the interface enhancements, T-Mobile preloads the phone with a few extras, including a barcode scanner app and an AppPack, which bundles app recommendations based on category. You also get something called MyTouch Music that streams some of today's top 100 popular hits. Of course, you can add your own music and video to the phone, and a link to multimedia syncing software DoubleTwist is bundled with the phone along with an 8GB microSD card. The MyTouch 3G Slide also has 5-megapixel camera/video recorder, but we were slightly disappointed in its picture quality, as indoor shots came out looking dull and gray.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1,800/1,900MHz; UMTS/HSDPA) MyTouch 3G Slide in New York using T-Mobile service, and its call quality was excellent. The audio on our end was void of any background noise and voice distortion, and there was certainly plenty of volume, as we found out the hard way. Our friends were equally impressed with the sound quality, noting that they couldn't tell we were on a cell phone. Speakerphone calls were also good. As with a lot of speakerphones, there was a bit of a hollow tone, but, overall, the conversation was clear and again, with ample volume. We had no problems pairing the phone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones, but as with other Android phones, the MyTouch 3G Slide does not support voice dialing over Bluetooth.
We got reliable T-Mobile's 3G coverage throughout Manhattan, and the network's data speeds were impressive. CNET's full site loaded in swift 10 seconds, whereas CNN's and ESPN's mobile sites came up in 3 seconds and 4 seconds, respectively. YouTube clips took a few seconds to load but played back without interruption, and sound and picture were synchronized. Our test MPEG4 video also played beautifully, and since the MyTouch Slide 3G has a 3.5mm jack, we were able to plug in our Bose On-Ear headphones so we could listen to our tunes in comfort.
The T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide is equipped with a 600MHz processor, and though some might bemoan the fact that it doesn't have a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, we found the smartphone to be quite responsive. It was able to handle our demands with very little delay, and we didn't encounter any major system problems during our testing period.
The MyTouch 3G Slide has a 1,300mAh lithium ion battery, and the phone delivered 5.5 hours of talk time in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the Slide has a digital SAR rating of 1.15 watts per kilogram.