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

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Content strategy | Team leadership | Audience engagement | Tips and FAQs | iPhone | Samsung | Android | iOS
Jessica Dolcourt
8 min read


T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide

The Good

The <b>T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide</b> is a speedy 4G, dual-core smartphone with some great multimedia features.

The Bad

The keyboard is a little flat on the MyTouch 4G Slide, and while good, the camera tools don't live up to their mind-blowing promise.

The Bottom Line

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide is a well-designed, feature-packed dual-core handset that can stand alongside today's premium smartphones.

CNET Senior Editor Bonnie Cha contributed to this review.

Far too often a series of phones becomes dull routine, with the device manufacturer simply churning out yet another familiar model rather than designing something new. Not so with the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide. HTC could have simply changed the colors, tweaked the shape, nudged up the camera quality, and added 4G for a perfectly acceptable Android successor to the MyTouch 3G Slide. Instead, it took the high road and equipped the MyTouch 4G Slide with a speedy processor, the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, a version of HTC Sense 3 adapted to T-Mobile's MyTouch aesthetic, and an improved camera that HTC has filled with software features.

The camera indeed offers a more complete experience that will have you relying on your smartphone to capture stills and videos of those one-of-a-time moments, rather than wishing you had your point-and-shoot instead. However, HTC overpromised on its camera glory and underdelivered a tad. (We spent some quality time comparing the camera with other smartphones cameras here.) Then there's the rather flat keyboard to contend with. Still, we have to commend HTC and T-Mobile for creating a compelling smartphone that gives you some real bang for your $199.99 bucks.

In many respects, the MyTouch 4G Slide is similar to the MyTouch 3G Slide that came before it, and indeed to the MyTouch 4G. It has the same smooth plastic body with the slightly protruding chin at its base, plus the four physical buttons and touch pad. It comes in khaki and black colors--we tested it in khaki.

The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide isn't just a pretty face. It's got 4G, and a dual-core processor, and claims to have the most advanced smartphone camera there is.

The MyTouch 4G Slide is slightly taller and thinner than its predecessor, but ultimately it's a huskier phone, at 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and a weight of 6.5 ounces. By comparison, the 3G version stands 4.6 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick and weighs 5.8 ounces. The 4G Slide is a heavy hunk of hardware, no doubt, but it's also sturdy.

The extra little bit of height accommodates the phone's 3.7-inch, WVGA Super LCD screen, up from the 3G Slide's 3.4 inch HVGA display. It's a nice, bright display, but the 800x400-pixel resolution isn't as stellar as some. (Read more on screen technology titans here).

Above the screen is the front-facing VGA camera. There's also an LED indicator light that flashes green when you've got new messages. Below the screen is the aforementioned (and customary) button quartet, with controls for Home, Menu, Back, and the Genius button that launches voice-to-text voice functions and voice commands. You'll also find an optical touch pad that doubles as a select button.

On the right spine you'll find the handy dedicated camera button. As with some other models we've seen on the market, you'll be able to press the button to take photos even if the phone is locked. On the left you'll find the volume rocker and Micro-USB charging port; the 3.5 millimeter headphone jack and power button are up top.

Nestled into the back of the 4G Slide is the much-ballyhooed 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and 1080p HD video playback and capture (more on this below). Behind the back cover there's the microSD card slot that accepts up to 32GB expandable memory. The phone comes with a generous 8GB microSD card preinstalled.

The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is thin enough to keep the phone's profile slim, but the fallout is having flat keys that slow down nimble fingers.

The slide-out QWERTY keyboard is clearly one of the phone's hallmarks, and we have to hand it to HTC for tucking an entire keyboard into a phone that's about as thick as the MyTouch 4G, a phone that has no keyboard. That's no easy feat, but the trade-off is a flatter QWERTY than we'd like, and flat keys tend to be less comfortable and slow down nimble typists. That said, the 4G Slide gets the spacing and size of the buttons right, and we appreciate the indicator lights that shine when Caps and Alt are on. The sliding action feels smooth and strong.

In addition to the physical keyboard, HTC has preinstalled Swype's virtual keyboard by default.

The MyTouch 4G Slide runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which first shipped on the Nexus S 4G. In addition, HTC has tacked on a revised version of its Sense 3 interface that's been adapted to fit the preexisting MyTouch aesthetic, with straight lines instead of Sense's typical curves and angles. See our review of the HTC Sensation for comparison.

When you first start the phone, you'll be able to choose from one of six themes, from slate gray to purple tones. The MyTouch interface also walks you through set-up options for your Google Account, other e-mail accounts, and social networks, a work flow we found convenient and straightforward.

Like the MyTouch 4G, the 4G Slide has a front-facing VGA camera for self-portraits and video chatting. Yet it's the 8-megapixel camera that's the star of the show. It has dual-LED flash and 1080p HD video capture and playback, which is typical for high-end phones these days--for instance, you also see that combination on the HTC Sensation. HTC Sense 3 software includes automatic facial detection and some extra effects you can select before taking a photo.

HTC boasts an 8-megapixel shooter with improved low-light performance, dual-LED flash, HD video capture, almost no shutter lag, and extra shooting modes.

Beyond that, the 4G Slide's lens has a wider aperture (which lets in more light) and a backside-illuminated sensor (BSI). The BSI sensor is there to improve the camera's speed and performance in low-light conditions, and it's a trick Apple also uses in its iPhone 4 camera. BSI also improves the dynamic range, that is, the contrast between the lightest whites and darkest blacks. CNET digital imaging editor Josh Goldman explains BSI sensors here.

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.


T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8