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T-Mobile G2x review: T-Mobile G2x

The T-Mobile G2x takes good photos, but they're not as colorful as we hoped.

As for the still camera, photo quality was good but not as great we had expected. The autofocus works to sharpen image quality, but the colors still looked a little dull. Low-light photos improved with the use of the LED flash, but images were more washed out than we would like. The camera does have plenty of settings to assist you in getting the best possible photo, however. You can adjust the resolution, the focus mode, the scene mode, the ISO, the white balance, the color effect, the image quality, the stabilization, the timer, and more. You can also geotag photos to remind yourself where you took them.

The front-facing camera doesn't take very good photos, but that's because it's meant mostly for video calls. The G2x comes with Qik Video Chat so you can try this feature out as soon as you get it. You can make video calls over Wi-Fi and regular cellular airwaves as well.

Beyond the multimedia goodies, the G2x has plenty of regular smartphone features, too. It's a quad-band world phone with a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, text and multimedia messaging, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. We're happy to see that it can make calls over Wi-Fi. The G2x can also be used as a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five devices. If you wish, you can tether the phone to your laptop over Bluetooth. Do note that T-Mobile charges around $15 a month for this privilege.

Perhaps one of the best features of the phone is that it ships with a native version of Android 2.2 Froyo. It's not the latest 2.3 Gingerbread firmware, but as it is stock Android, the G2x is absolutely upgradable. The interface is clean and purely Android, without any complicated skins or overlays. We definitely prefer this over the more customized interfaces as it contributes to the snappy feel during navigation. The T-Mobile G2x comes with both the basic Android keyboard and Swype.

Like all Android phones, the G2x supports all the standard Google apps and services. It can also handle Microsoft Exchange and POP3 and IMAP accounts. Froyo lets you integrate your contacts with various social networks, save apps to SD cards, and voice dial over Bluetooth, and it supports Flash Player 10.1 in the browser.

Last but certainly not least, the T-Mobile G2x supports T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. Though not technically 4G, it does provide 4G-like speeds with theoretical peak speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. As you might expect, we didn't quite achieve that upper limit, but we were still mightily impressed with what we got. You can read more about that in the Performance section below.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) T-Mobile G2x in San Francisco. Call quality was good on the whole, but we experienced the occasional dip in voice quality. On our end, we thought our callers sounded very natural without too much static and very little background noise. On the other end, however, callers said that while they could hear us clearly, they thought our voice had a slight fuzzy quality to it. They said that the volume level was good. As for speakerphone quality, callers said our volume dropped quite a bit now and then, so we had to speak up at times.

T-Mobile G2x call quality sample Listen now:

As we mentioned, the overall performance of the G2x was very impressive due to the 1GHz Nvidia dual-core Tegra 2 processor. Some might expect that the only 512MB of RAM would slow it down, but we experienced very little lag.

We also tested the phone's HSPA+ or "4G" speeds in San Francisco. We managed to load the full CNET page in around 8 seconds, the mobile BBC site in 9 seconds, and the mobile ESPN page in 3 seconds. Though we didn't reach the theoretical 14.4Mbps speeds, we did get roughly 4.2Mbps down and 1.2Mbps up, which is still pretty impressive. As for Flash video, we managed to play a couple of HD-quality videos on CNET TV, but not without a tiny bit of lag at the start of the videos. Aside from that, we experienced no buffering issues.

The G2x ships with a 1,500mAh lithium ion battery with a rated battery life of 7 hours of talk time and 12 days of standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 6 hours and 31 minutes.

Anecdotally, we were able to get a full day's worth of use from the smartphone before having to charge the battery. We performed the standard tasks of checking e-mail, looking up directions on the map, and browsing the Web for a little bit to check baseball scores. There were stretches of time when the phone dropped down to 2G speeds in certain areas of the city, so that might have affected the battery life. We'll have to perform our own battery tests to be sure.

According to FCC radiation tests, the G2x has a digital SAR of 0.82 watts per kilogram.

With its dual-core processor, HSPA+ speeds, stock Android interface, and solid polished design, it's easy to see why the T-Mobile G2x won our Best of CTIA award in the phones category this year. While it does have a few failings, the pros far outweigh the cons, making the G2x one of the best Android phones on the market today. The T-Mobile G2x is also quite affordable, at around $199.99 with a two-year contract. If you prefer not to get a contract, it costs quite a bit: $499.99 retail.

Correction, Tuesday at 10:35 a.m. PT: We've since learned that the G2x does come with Swype built in and have updated the review to reflect that.

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