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

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The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G is the latest addition to the carrier's MyTouch series of Android phones, and it brings a slew of design and feature enhancements. With a more solid build, the Android 2.2 smartphone feels like a premium device and has the goods to back it up, with HSPA+ support, Wi-Fi calling, mobile hot spot capabilities, and a second-gen 1GHz Snapdragon processor, just to name a few. Unfortunately, one of its hallmark features, video chat, doesn't work all that well, as we were ran into a number of issues. The good news is that there are plenty of other great things about the smartphone to occupy you until video chat is ironed out. The MyTouch 4G is fast, sleek, and delivers great call quality, making it a great alternative if you don't need a keyboard or dislike the bulkiness of the T-Mobile G2. The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G will be available November 3 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

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8.3

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G

The Good

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G features a thin and sturdy design. The Android 2.2 device supports the carrier's HSPA+ network and offers Wi-Fi calling and mobile hot spot capabilities. The MyTouch 4G also has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a 5-megapixel camera.

The Bad

Speakerphone volume is too low. We had numerous issues with video calls. The smartphone is a little on the heavy side.

The Bottom Line

Though video chat isn't ready for prime time, there's plenty to love about the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G, including its speed, sleek and sturdy design, and great call quality.

Design
The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G has a similar shape and look as the rest of the MyTouch family, but there's a noticeable difference in weight and feel. Unlike the previous models, the MyTouch 4G features stainless steel parts and in some instances, a soft-touch finish around the edges (only on certain colors) to give it a more solid and premium feel. As a result, the handset is a bit on the heavier side at 5 ounces. Though design is a subjective thing, we'd rather have a slightly heavier but more solid-feeling device than a light and cheap, plasticky phone. Plus, the MyTouch 4G is still thin and pocketable at 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick.


The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G has a sturdier design than the rest of the models in the line.

On front, you get a 3.8-inch WVGA touch screen with the option of five or seven home screen panels. Like the MyTouch 3G Slide, the MyTouch 4G uses a combination of T-Mobile's customized user interface and HTC Sense, including the company's widgets and Leap screen, which shows you thumbnail versions of all your home screens. Our stance on customized UIs is that as long as they're useful and don't interfere with software updates, we have no problem with it. Though the latter remains to be seen, as it is now, the MyTouch 4G's interface is helpful and user-friendly, particularly for consumers and first-time Android users.

As for the display itself, it's clear and sharp, though colors don't look quite as rich as those on the Samsung Vibrant's Super AMOLED screen. The touch screen is responsive. Apps launched as soon as we tapped the icon, and the scrolling and pinch-to-zoom actions were fast and smooth. The MyTouch 4G comes with the Swype keyboard installed, though if you don't like it, you can turn it off and peck away on a regular onscreen keyboard. Alternatively, you can use the phone's Nuance Dragon Dictation voice command system to dictate your messages.


The smartphone features an optical trackpad, traditional Android shortcut keys, and a Genius button, which launches the voice command application.

Below the display, there's an optical trackpad and Android shortcuts for home, back, and menu. However, instead of a search button, you get T-Mobile's Genius button, which activates the aforementioned Nuance-powered voice command application where you can make calls, compose messages, search the Web, and launch applications with your voice.

On the left side, there's a volume rocker and a Micro-USB port; there's a sole camera button on the right side. The top of the device houses a power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The smartphone's main camera and flash are located on the back, but there is a front-facing VGA camera as well, just above the screen on the right side.

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G comes packaged in a nice, reusable carrying case with an AC adapter, a USB cable, wired stereo headset, an 8GB microSD card, and reference material.

Features
The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G is the most advanced model in the MyTouch series to date. It's running Android 2.2 and also supports the carrier's HSPA+ network. The latter is T-Mobile's enhanced 3G network and not true 4G technology, though the product name and T-Mobile's marketing would certainly have you think otherwise. That aside, the network promises 4G-like speeds and we've certainly experienced that in our tests.

Here in New York, we averaged download speeds of 5.37Mbps and upload speeds of 1.31Mbps, peaking at 7.07Mbps down and 1.33Mbps up. (For comparison, Sprint's 4G network provided average download speeds of 3.42Mbps and upload speeds of 0.93Mbps on the HTC Evo 4G when tested in Philadelphia.) With those speeds, the phone's browser was able to load CNET's full page in just 13 seconds, and CNN and ESPN's mobile sites in 6 seconds and 7 seconds, respectively. High-quality YouTube videos loaded within a couple of seconds and played back continuously with synchronized audio and video.

Unlike the T-Mobile G2, the MyTouch 4G can be used as a mobile hot spot with WEP and WPA encryption. T-Mobile's Wi-Fi and Tethering Plan costs $15 per month on top of the $30 unlimited data plan. We had no problems connecting the smartphone to our MacBook Pro, and again T-Mobile's HSPA+ network provided swift speeds. CNET's full site loaded in 9 seconds, as did ESPN.com; the New York Times full site came up in 10 seconds. We were also able to upload a 2MB photo in 15 seconds, and downloaded a five-track album (file size ranged from 4.7MB to 7.7MB) from iTunes in 50 seconds. The speeds were certainly more than adequate for us to get our work done and then some, though we did experience a drop off in speed in certain parts of Manhattan, such as Midtown.

Currently, T-Mobile has rolled out its HSPA+ network to 65 major metropolitan cities, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, and Seattle, and reaches 100 million people. The carrier said it plans to expand its footprint to 100 major metropolitan cities by the end of the year. You can check for your city on T-Mobile's coverage map.

Stepping back to some of the MyTouch 4G's more basic features, as a phone, it offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, conference calling, voice dialing, text and multimedia messaging, Bluetooth, and GPS. In addition to cellular calls, you can make calls over a Wi-Fi network (there is no additional charge, but the minutes are deducted from your regular voice plan) and video calls over Wi-Fi or cellular network with Qik or Yahoo Messenger. You can read more about our experience with these features in the Performance section.

The phone book is limited only by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, IM handles, group IDs, photo caller IDs, and so on. Similar to other Android phones, the smartphone will merge contact information, as well as calendar appointments, from multiple e-mail and social networking accounts, including Exchange, POP3, IMAP, Facebook, and Twitter.

After we set up our device with our various accounts, the smartphone actually presented a list of contacts that had multiple entries and gave us the option to link them on the spot, which was nice since we didn't have to go into the Contacts app and see where there were duplicates.

Aside from the standard Google services and Froyo features outlined in our article here, the MyTouch 4G comes preloaded with a number of extras, mostly entertainment focused, including Rock Band, Asphalt 5, Monopoly, and T-Mobile TV. The last app lets you stream live and on-demand content from channels such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, ESPN, and VH1. You get a 30-day complimentary trial to the service, but afterwards, you will have to pay $9.99 per month.

All of your own music and video are stored in the phone's Media Room app, where you will also find the FM radio and a preloaded copy of Slacker. The MyTouch 4G has 4GB of internal memory and ships with an 8GB microSD card, though the expansion slot can accept up to 32GB cards.

Last but not least, the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G offers a 5-megapixel with flash, HD video recording, and numerous editing options, including white balance, face detection, ISO, and wide-screen resolution. You can also add effects to your photo, and the camera gives you a small example of what each effect does to the image, so you get an idea of what to expect, which is pretty cool.


The picture quality of indoor shots could be sharper.

Picture quality was good when we took photos outdoors, but they could be better for indoor shots. We could certainly make out the objects in the photo, but they just appeared a bit soft and colors could have been brighter. The MyTouch 4G does have DLNA support (called Screen Share on the phone) so you can stream content from your phone to a DLNA-compliant device like an HDTV.

Performance
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) T-Mobile MyTouch 4G in New York, and call quality was excellent. On our end of the conversation, callers sound loud and clear with rich audio and little to no background noise or voice distortion. Our friends reported great results as well and had no major complaints. We also made calls over Wi-Fi but didn't notice a huge difference in audio quality, as Wi-Fi calls also sounded fantastic.

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

Unfortunately, speakerphone quality wasn't all that great. Even with the volume at its highest level, the sound is weak and tinny, so it was hard to hear our friends even in a relatively quiet room. Callers also said that we sounded really far away. We had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.

Video calls on the MyTouch 4G were disappointing. First, we tried making a call to CNET's San Francisco office from New York. We used the MyTouch 4G and Qik and our caller used the HTC Evo 4G and Qik both over Wi-Fi. Our caller got the video and audio feeds just fine, but we only received the video portion and no audio. Next, we called a fellow tech journalist who was also reviewing the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G and we both got audio but no video. We tried several times with the same result and toward the end, the audio started to cut in and out and it sounded robotic at times.

Obviously, there are still some major issues to be resolved before video calls become a real option on the MyTouch 4G. Part of the problem is compatibility with other devices. Qik said that for now, video chat works best if the other caller is also using a MyTouch 4G but that they will be releasing an update on November 3 that will allow for interoperability between the MyTouch 4G, HTC Evo 4G, and Samsung Epic 4G. A desktop client is also planned in the near future. Still, as we described earlier, we tried to make several video calls between two MyTouch devices and still had problems.

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G comes equipped with a second-generation 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and the smartphone was very responsive during our review period. Applications launched immediately, and multimedia performance was just fine. There were very few instances where we experienced noticeable delays. The only time this occurred was when loading the demo version of Asphalt 5, but once going, the gameplay was smooth and a lot of fun.

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G ships with a 1,400mAh lithium ion battery and has a rated talk time of 6.7 hours and up to 10 days of standby time. The smartphone fell just short of the rated talk time in our battery drain tests, coming in at 6 hours. Generally, with moderate use, we were able to go a full day before needing to recharge the phone. According to FCC radiation tests, the MyTouch 4G has a digital SAR rating 0.938 watt per kilogram.

Here are our official CNET Labs tested results. More smartphone testing results can be found here.

Video battery life (in hours) Audio battery life (in hours) Boot time (in seconds) Web page load time (in seconds)
HTC MyTouch 4G 6.6
21 6 10

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8.3

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 8