T-Mobile is at it again. A few years ago, the carrier released a line of MyTouch devices with HTC: the MyTouch 3G, the MyTouch 3G Slide, the MyTouch 4G, and the MyTouch 4G Slide. Then early this year, more MyTouch handsets were announced, this time with LG; they were unimaginatively named the MyTouch and MyTouch Q. Now Huawei is packing itself on the T-Mobile cruise liner and sailing straight to MyTouch island as well.
Consistent with all its predecessors, Huawei's MyTouch (like its sliding-keyboard counterpart, the MyTouch Q) is an entry-level smartphone aimed at first-time users. After you send in a $50 rebate and sign a two-year contract, it'll set you back a reasonable $49.99.
Though its specs are respectable and it sports a more attractive design than all the other MyTouches without keyboards, its biggest misstep is the outdated operating system. Still running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, Huawei's MyTouch and MyTouch Q will already feel old even before you get them out of their boxes.
The T-Mobile MyTouch measures 4.5 inches tall, 2.46 inches wide, and 0.41 inch thick. It feels comfortable when inside front or back jean pockets, and it fits easily inside a small purse. I especially like the small chin detail at the bottom of the device.
Despite the good build size, however, at 4.94 ounces, it is heavy to hold. When I first picked it up, I was struck by its heftiness, but it wasn't too uncomfortable to talk with it pinned between my shoulder and cheek.
On the left side is a volume rocker and up top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a sleep/power button. To the right is a shortcut key that opens the camera. At the very bottom is a Micro-USB port.
The 4-inch WVGA touch screen has a 480x800-pixel resolution. The display is pretty impressive; wallpaper images are bright and smooth, colors are vibrant (though darker hues are harder to distinguish from one another), and menu icons and text look crisp and clear. The screen is also responsive. Actions such as swiping through the five home screen pages, typing on the keyboard with Swype, and scrolling through the app drawer were all executed swiftly with no hiccups in movement.
Above the display is an in-ear speaker and in the top right corner is a VGA front-facing camera. Below are four navigational keys that light up when in use: menu, home, back, and lastly, the green Genius Button (more on that later).
On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with accompanying LED flash below it. To the right of the lens is a small cluster of holes for the output speaker. The backplate is made of a matte rubberized plastic. I haven't seen this material in very many handsets, and I really like it. Though it's not luxurious, it keeps fingerprints off and is distinctive.
Using a small indentation at the bottom of the backing, you can pry the plate off with your fingernail. There you'll get access to the 1,500mAh battery, and both SIM card and microSD card slots.
The MyTouch by Huawei is powered by a 1.4GHz processor. Though some actions took place quickly, like returning to the home screen, pinch-zooming, and switching between apps, I noticed a lag with the camera app. Launching it was fine, but after taking a picture the time before it was ready to take another was a few seconds more than I'd like.
One of the biggest disappointments with this phone is that it ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Though I understand that the latest OS, Android 4.1 Jellybean, is scarcely featured in upcoming devices, a new product running on Gingerbread is a letdown given that two more versions of Android (Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich) arrived in between.
That being said, the handset comes with your usual trove of Google apps: Gmail, Plus, Latitude, Maps with Navigation, Messenger, Places, Play Books, Movies, Music, and Store, Search, Talk, and YouTube.
T-Mobile also included a handful of its own apps, including the hotline (and for some reason, horoscope-giving) app, 411 & More; Access T-Mobile, which gives you info about your data plan; a gaming portal called Game Base; and More for Me, which scouts local deals based on your interests. In addition, there's a MobileLife Family Organizer app that helps you plan your family's calendar and to-do lists; T-Mobile Mall, which lets you download ringtones, MP3s, and apps; a native T-Mobile music player; a trial subscription to the caller ID service, Name ID; visual voice mail; and a 30-day trial to T-Mobile TV. This is a service that streams live TV from channels like Fox News and PBS Kids.
Aside from the usual basic apps (a calculator, a calendar, a clock with an alarm function, an FM radio, a news and weather app, a notepad, a sound recorder), there is a slew of other preloaded features thrown in, such as the mobile office suite Documents To Go; Amazon; Facebook; Lookout Security, which backs up and secures your data; Netflix; Slacker Radio; Twitter; two games (Monopoly and Words Free); and a magazine app, Zinio.
Though I love a few choice goodies just as much as the next guy, this phone has way too much bloatware. There are already three e-mail clients (a native one, Gmail, and Yahoo mail), an additional browser on top of the included Web browser called Web2go, two gaming portals, and two navigators.
Furthermore, the app drawer is kind of a mess. At the top, underneath the All Apps tab, your eight most recent applications are laid out. That, by itself, is fine (even though it looks like you have eight more apps than you really do). But, at the bottom are the four icons you set in your home screen's dashboard and an accompanying home icon, even though there's already a home key in your device's bezel. Then there are a bunch of redundant apps, like one just for the dialer (seriously, who would access the dialer in the app drawer?) even though you probably included the dialer in your dashboard, which, again, already shows up at the bottom. There's also an app just for the call log, even though you can easily access that in the already-unnecessary dialer app!
The handset also comes with a Genius button. While it's no Siri or S Voice, it uses software from Nuance to make calls, send texts, search the Web, and grab directions through user voice activation. It's a little slow to think, but when I asked it to search the Web for "CNET" and "banana," it was spot-on. Recognizing names, however, isn't its forte. It kept mixing up a few of my friends' names when I asked it to call or text certain contacts. Overall, Genius is easy to use but feels unpolished. Whether it deserves its own hot key below the display is questionable.
Camera and video
The 5-megapixel camera features an LED flash, a zooming meter, geotagging, five white-balance options, three focusing modes including macro, three photo qualities, six photo sizes, and seven color effects. The front-facing camera also has the same five white balances, color effects, photo qualities, zooming meter, and geotagging option, but it only has two picture sizes.
As for video options, users can use a continuous flash (though not while recording with the front-facing camera), set different white balances and color effects (both with all the same choices as the camera), and adjust the video quality.
Photo quality was relatively mediocre in low lighting. Images were grainy, edges were blurred, and there wasn't a wide range of colors. Images taken outdoors with lots of sunlight, however, fared better. Edges were more distinct, colors were more vibrant, and there wasn't much digital noise. Overall, though, the auto white balance in my photos is a little off. There is a slight blue tinge to the images, giving these pictures a cold look.Video quality was perfectly adequate. Audio was picked up well, images were sharp and in focus, and colors were true to life. Previously, I mentioned that the camera's shutter is slow, but I did not notice any lag between moving the camera and feedback.
I tested the quad-band (850, 900, 1800, 1900) T-Mobile MyTouch in San Francisco. Call and signal quality were good, none of my calls dropped, there was no extraneous buzzing, and audio didn't clip in and out. Voices came in loud and clear, especially on max volume, and I was told I could be heard fine as well. Speaker quality was also respectable. However, on high-to-max volume, music and calls sounded tinny and harsh.
Listen now: T-Mobile MyTouch (Huawei) call quality sample
Using T-Mobile's 4G network, the phone's data speeds were fast. On average, it loaded our mobile and full CNET pages in 10 and 22 seconds, respectively. The New York Times' mobile site took 5 seconds, and its full site clocked in at 15 seconds. Ookla's Speedtest app, which is 2.99MB, took 28 seconds to download, and showed me an average of 3.95Mbps down and 0.45Mbps up. The 24.25MB game of Temple Run downloaded in 1 minute and 46 seconds.
During our battery drain tests the handset lasted 7.85 hours. Anecdotally, it had a solid battery life. With minimal use (a short conversation here and there, watching some videos, and taking a handful of pictures), the handset lasted a couple of days without a charge and with only about a fourth of its battery drained. But with heavy use, especially with the brightness turned on and lots of calls made, it easily required a good charge during the day. According to FCC radiation standards, the device has a digital SAR rating of 0.733/kg.
Though T-Mobile's method of naming its phones leaves something to be desired, Huawei's MyTouch is consistent with the rest of its family members. Just like the others, it comes with tons of bloatware and, despite being a recent addition to the line, runs on an older version of Android, version 2.3 Gingerbread.
However, this device still offers respectable call quality, photo quality (putting aside the wonky white balance), and network speeds for a reasonable price -- again, just like its kin. Furthermore, of all the MyTouches I've seen (excluding the keyboard versions), Huawei has the best and sleekest design, which gives this entry-level device that extra edge over the others.