T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide review: T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide

The MyTouch 4G Slide also boasts a variety of tools you can use both before and after you take a single shot. ClearShot HDR (high dynamic range) directly addresses exposure. With this on, the camera combines a trio of shots--one overexposed, one underexposed, and one with normal exposure--into a single, hopefully more detailed and balanced image. HDR isn't new, and many third-party applications can achieve the same effect, but we're glad to see HTC integrate it into one of its phones, especially in answer to the iPhone 4, which also has optional HDR. It looks especially good on outdoor shots, in our opinion.

Then there's the SweepShot panoramic mode, which produces a single, unified image instead of a patched-together picture of the scene, a fact we appreciate. There's also BurstShot, an action mode that captures five consecutive images in quick succession, plus smile capture, which automatically takes a picture the instant someone smiles, and blink mode, which delays a photo. You can easily switch over to portrait mode (it blurs the background), night mode, or macro mode, to name a few more. While there are a lot of options, keep in mind that you won't be using all features simultaneously.

This is the standard studio shot CNET uses to test the quality of our smartphone cameras, taken this time with our photographer's Canon 1D Mark IV. It's a well-lit indoor shot taken without a flash.

Here, the MyTouch 4G Slide takes its turn on the composed shot. Although we left the default settings untouched, the photo was also taken without flash.

So how did the MyTouch 4G Slide do in practice? Outdoor pictures and video were lovely--crisp, focused, and colorful--but indoor shots weren't always the best, and we had some issues in our initial tests. For one thing, we noticed that the 4G Slide disabled flash as the battery drained from green to yellow; it still wouldn't let us manually engage flash even after we changed the advanced power settings. For another, the iPhone 4 took a much truer image of a low-lit shot than the 4G Slide did, with and without HDR on. Glance through our comparison gallery to see what we mean.

T-Mobile also claims that the 4G Slide takes photos instantly, without any shutter lag. That wasn't the case for us. Not only did the software create a processing lag, we also noticed that it didn't begin a capture right when we pressed the button. For instance, we took photos of subjects just as they started to jump, but the result was image of them midway through. We also took photos while panning the phone across a scene. The 4G Slide image was ghosted, containing visual artifacts from various parts of the scene. Not so with the iPhone 4. (We'll update this review as we continue testing the camera, so stay tuned.)

Overall, the phone's camera tools are showcased in a way that makes them easy to find and use. The experience as a whole, combined with the fact that you can turn the camera on from sleep mode without wasting precious seconds unlocking the phone, would have us reaching for the phone again and again to take and share photos and video, although we're not selling our digital cameras yet.

A premium T-Mobile smartphone, the MyTouch 4G Slide has 4G speeds, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi calling, GPS, Bluetooth, and mobile hot-spot support. There's e-mail, text, multimedia messaging, and all the other features you'd expect from an Android phone, including access to a range of Google services.

There are some toothsome extras as well, like the Netflix app, which is currently only compatible with a limited number of Android phones, and the Qik video chat app--or rather, the T-Mobile Video Chat App powered by Qik-- that uses the front-facing camera.

There are also quite a few apps that HTC and T-Mobile preloaded onto the phone, including T-Mobile TV, DoubleTwist Sync, Polaris Office, Zid Zone, Zinio Reader, and Bejeweled 2.

Unfortunately, as with the HTC Sensation 4G, you'll only have 1GB of the 4GB of internal memory available to use. Although the 4G Slide also comes with an 8GB microSD card preinstalled, the compromise isn't as alluring as other phones that have larger internal storage right out of the box, like the T-Mobil G2x, which already comes with 8GB. However, you can expand up to 32GB on the 4G Slide.

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide is a 4G, quad-band world phone (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSDPA 2100). We tested the phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was pretty good overall, and very similar on both ends of the line. Volume was nice and loud, and the line sounded absolutely clear, without any breaks or crackles. Voices sounded a bit hollow, and were tinged by a little audio distortion. To our ears, they sometimes sounded a little digital, more like autotuning, and words sometimes ended with a slight buzz.

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality was pretty impressive...for a speakerphone. We had no complaints with the robust volume and it was clear enough to maintain a longer, perfectly intelligible conversation. On our end, the voice quality became more buzzy, and on their end, callers said they picked up some room echo that masked its hollowness. While not A quality, both sides of the conversation gave overall call quality a B or B+.

On the data front, T-Mobile says its HSPA+ network can deliver 4G-like speeds up to 14.4Mbps. For various reasons, San Francisco never seems to even approach that theoretical peak. Using the Speedtest.net app, the best diagnostic speeds we achieved were a 5Mbps download speed and a 0.18Mbps upload speed, but we'll continue testing throughout the San Francisco area.

Anecdotally, the data felt fast. CNET's mobile-optimized site loaded in 11 seconds and its full, graphically rich site loaded in about 17 seconds. We got the New York Times' mobile site in 9 seconds and its full site in about 10 seconds. It took ESPN.com to load in 6 seconds. YouTube videos played without a hitch, and were in sync. We didn't witness any buffering hiccups in our initial tests.

As with the Sensation, the MyTouch 4G Slide uses Qualcomm's 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor. Any way you slice it, it's a big improvement over the MyTouch 3G Slide, which has a 600MHz processor, and it stands up to today's dual-core smartphones with zippy, lagless navigation and app launching.

While we haven't had the phone in our hands long enough to thoroughly appraise the battery life of the MyTouch 4G Slide's 1520mAh lithium ion battery, we will be running detailed tests, so watch this space. The MyTouch 4G Slide has a digital SAR of 0.68 watts per kilogram.

T-Mobile and HTC deserve praise for elevating the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide from the ranks of flashy, midrange phones into a premium handset with some great additional features and specs that anyone would admire. Both the 4G speeds and 1.2GHz dual-core processor kept videos and the Web humming along, and the slightly modified HTC Sense interface is both powerful and easy to use. The fancy camera features didn't completely live up to their elevated promise, but the tools are generally useful and fun, even if they didn't uniformly perform as well as we had hoped. The keyboard was another area of disappointment, but one that will have a longer-lasting effect on cell phone owners than the camera. In the end, the MyTouch 4G Slide is a very worthy, very welcome member of the MyTouch family.

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