Android phones with honest-to-goodness real physical keyboards rarely cross my desk these days. That’s why I jumped at the chance to give the new $49.99 T-Mobile MyTouch Q by Huawei a spin. This device is a follow-up to the first MyTouch Q made by LG but sports a bigger screen and faster processor. It may not be small, light, or slim, but for its low price this handset serves up basic Android, nimble 4G data, plus a usable keyboard in an attractive budget package. If you can live without a physical keyboard, T-Mobile also sells a version of the MyTouch, identical in every way but without a slider for the same price.
Besides its recycled name, the T-Mobile MyTouch Q (Huawei) might also confuse you with its doppelganger looks. The handset is practically a mirror image of its predecessor, the first T-Mobile MyTouch Q manufactured by LG. Both phones feature slide-out keyboards and are crafted from modest black plastic.
The two devices are similarly sculpted in gentle curves as well and have back covers with soft-touch coatings. I prefer the old MyTouch Q's rear surface, though, which has a smoother more premium feel compared with Huawei’s model. That said, each of the phones' back plates are easy to grip and soak up fingerprints admirably.
Measuring 4.9 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, one difference is that this MyTouch Q is slightly larger than LG’s device. Weighing a hefty 6.5 ounces, the new handset is about an ounce heavier too but features a larger screen.
You’ll find a bigger 4-inch LCD screen on Huawei’s version of the T-Mobile MyTouch Q compared with the 3.5-inch (480 x 320) display on the older LG model. In addition, the new MyTouch Q offers a higher 800x480-pixel resolution than the LG MyTouch Q. That said, when I viewed both side by side, the screen on Huawei’s device was darker and produced relatively muted colors with narrower viewing angles. Stacked up against the premium HTC One S, neither MyTouch Q came close to matching the color saturation, contrast, or brightness of this premium smartphone’s AMOLED display (4.3 inch, 960x540 pixel).
Above the screen is a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats and snapping profile shots. Below the display are four capacitive buttons, the first three being symbols for standard Android functions (Menu, Home, Back). The fourth uses the traditional "g" letter indicating it launches T-Mobile’s Genius voice command feature.
The MyTouch Q’s left side holds its Micro-USB port and tiny volume buttons while on top of the phone are a power key and 3.5mm headphone jack. Located on the right edge is a dedicated camera button, something the previous MyTouch Q lacked, but it doesn’t wake the phone if its in sleep mode.
On back is the MyTouch Q's 5-megapixel camera with LED flash along with a speaker grille. Ripping off the phone's back panel uncovers its removable battery, and slots for SIM card, and microSD Card. You can swap microSD Cards in and out without disturbing the battery but not SIM Cards.
To open the T-Mobile MyTouch Q's physical keyboard, just rotate the phone counterclockwise and slide the screen upward. Doing so reveals its four row keyboard that uses rounded oval-shaped keys. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the keyboard's design since its keys are small and feel stiff. They do provide a satisfying click when pressed though.
Also, while the old MyTouch Q’s key arrangement wasn't great, I prefer it to this new Huawei creation. LG's MyTouch was also four rows tall but measured 12 keys across (as opposed to 10 on the Huawei device) and offered more dedicated shortcut buttons. For instance there are ".com" and "SYM" symbol buttons plus a "Text" key for quickly launching the messaging app, all absent on the Huawei MyTouch Q. Huawei does equip the MyTouch Q with four arrow keys, a feature LG's device lacked.
To really experience how a physical keyboard should be built, check out the Motorola Droid 4 (Verizon), which boasts a full five rows (12 keys across), supple yet snappy gummy keys, a much longer spacebar, and brighter backlighting.
Running the Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread OS, hard-core Android fans will no doubt be disapointed the MyTouch Q doesn't come with Google's latest version, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, let alone Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0). Of course, I can’t fault the older software in a basic, budget Android handset such as this.
The phone does offer all the staple Android capabilities, including Gmail, Google Maps, and access to the more than 700,000 apps, plus movies and books, available for download from the Android Market. The handset can tackle personal and corporate e-mail accounts too, along with the usual text-messaging tasks and GPS navigation. Multimedia is handled through the onboard Google Play Music and Play Movies apps.
A shortcut bar at the bottom of the screen displays the usual icons for phone, text messaging, browser, e-mail, and applications. Unlike its LG predecessor, you can swap out all except for apps and phone for other shortcuts. You can’t however create folders on the any of the phone’s five home screens.