T-Mobile MyTouch review: T-Mobile MyTouch

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The Good The T-Mobile MyTouch is a simple starter smartphone that's compatible with T-Mobile's 4G network. It has good battery life and you can get it for nothing.

The Bad Despite the phone's midtier specs, it lacks a camera flash. Also, the speakerphone quality was poor and the interface was a little sluggish.

The Bottom Line Though not without its merits, this most recent addition to the MyTouch family has too many things against it. No one issue was unbearable on its own, but when I add up all my qualms about it, I'd ultimately suggest another phone within its class.

6.3 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

If you're confused about the MyTouch phone family tree, you're not alone. A few years ago, HTC and T-Mobile started to release a line of phones under the MyTouch umbrella. These included the MyTouch 3G, the MyTouch 3G Slide, the MyTouch 4G, and the MyTouch 4G Slide.

Not wanting to mess with a good thing, or perhaps wanting to confuse people for the heck of it, T-Mobile decided to release two more MyTouch phones in November 2011, except this time no one bothered to drastically rename them, and these phones would be manufactured by LG instead.

Brian Bennett already examined the sliding-keyboard MyTouch Q, so I'm taking on its simpler cousin, the MyTouch (yes, another one). Both handsets are on T-Mobile's 4G network, and if you get either one with a two-year contract and send in a mail-in rebate, you'll get it for the incredibly low price of zero bucks.

Because the MyTouch got rid of the bulky buttons from its HTC predecessor, it has a much sleeker profile (4.82 inches tall, 2.46 inches wide, and 0.385 inch thick). It's also really light, only 3.77 ounces, so when I slipped it into my pocket, I didn't feel like my jeans were weighed down.

A cosmetic feature that I absolutely love for no rational reason is the bottom of the phone, which has a slanted edge that tapers off. I don't know why, but it makes the handset look more chic. Another fantastic detail is the soft coating on the back. From paperback book covers to postcards, I adore soft coatings. Even though the backing is just plastic, the coating prevents the phone from feeling cheap. Keep in mind, however, that the soft coating traps oil from fingertips like crazy, and they're difficult to wipe off.

On the top left of the back you'll see the camera lens (and the camera lens only, but I'll get to that later). At the bottom there is a little indent in the phone that you can put your finger in. This will help you dislodge the phone's back cover. Once you pop it off, you'll gain access to the phone's removable battery, microSD card, and T-Mobile SIM card. You'll also see more of the output speaker, which is on the left side of the phone's back.

If soft coatings are your thing too, you'll get a kick out of the MyTouch's backing.

The MyTouch has a 3.8 inch AMOLED display, with a 480x840-pixel resolution. The front bezel of this phone is wide on the sides, so the display is actually a lot narrower than it appears at first glance. Although typing and Swyping using the touch screen in landscape mode was comfortable, texting with the keyboard in portrait mode was a little hard because of the slim display.

Despite this, however, the colors and images were bright and clean. Edges were crisp and when I played a demo game of Bejeweled 2 (which comes with the phone), I thought the graphics were impressively vibrant and clear.

Above the display is the front-facing VGA camera, and below are three navigational buttons: menu, home, and back. Compared with its HTC cousins, this version of the MyTouch dropped the search button. In order to gain access to the search feature, you'll have to hold the menu button down for a few seconds and a Google search bar will pop up. That's a minor inconvenience.

Up at the top of the phone, you have your power/lock button on the right and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left. In between them is the Micro-USB port, which has an attached cover you can pop out. This is not unusual on LG phones, and some might appreciate the extra layer of protection for this opening. Others, however, might find this annoying to fiddle with every time they plug and unplug the charger. Lastly, there is a volume rocker on the right side of the phone.

In terms of design, when compared with the MyTouch phones on HTC, the MyTouch by LG is an upgrade. It's slender and smooth, and, despite its plastic build, pretty sleek-looking.

The MyTouch by LG runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ "4G" network and is loaded with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. (There's no word yet on whether or not it will be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich.) Powering this critter is a 1GHz Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm.

Inside you'll find a wealth of standard apps that'll keep your life organized and up-to-date. The phone has an alarm clock function, a book app that has "Treasure Island," "The Three Musketeers," and "Wuthering Heights" already loaded, a navigational app, a memo function called Richnote, and a calendar app for managing your schedule. There are also go-to Web 2.0 apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

The phone is jam-packed with a bunch of preinstalled T-Mobile apps as well. One is Polaris Office, which functions like Microsoft Office on your phone. It has word processing, spreadsheet, and file-viewing capabilities. Also, you can edit Microsoft Office files, view PDF and image files, and decompress ZIP files. Another is a voice command app called the Genius Button. You can call, send texts, search terms, and get directions simply by opening the Genius Button and speaking into your phone.

Other apps include MobileLife Organizer, T-Mobile Mall (where you can purchase T-Mobile apps, ringtones, and games), and Slacker radio. Lastly, the phone comes with a 30-day trial of T-Mobile TV, where you can stream live TV from channels like Fox News and ESPN, and download shows like "30 Rock" and "Grey's Anatomy." When you download episodes, you have a choice of either saving it to your phone's internal memory, which holds up to 2GB, or the SD card's memory, which holds up to 32GB.

Unfortunately, a lot of these apps (or "bloatware" if you prefer) can't be uninstalled. So while you may enjoy some of what the titles have to offer, you're stuck with them unless you root your phone. In addition, there's another thing you'll have to deal with--the phone comes preloaded with Carrier IQ. Remember that piece of Android software back in December that collected usage data and caused a media firestorm when it was discovered? Yeah, that's it.

Lastly, there is 5-megapxel camera on the rear of the phone. The camera has digital zooming, autofocus, and face detection. You'll also have a wide array of photo options such as a brightness meter, some color effects (black-and-white, sepia, negative), a white-balance picker, and a timer. The camera can record 720 video at 30 frames per second, but it cannot zoom or focus during recordings.

A huge flaw I found with the camera is the fact that it has no LED flash. I know this is supposed to be a midtier camera. But, seriously, no flash? And indeed, there are plenty of phones within the MyTouch's class that have them, so I miss it here. No flash means no nighttime pictures, no flashlight when you drop your keys in the car, and no handheld strobe machine.

When I took the phone hiking to Mission Peak in Fremont, Calif., to take pictures of the great view, the photos were nice and clear. Although the sun was setting at the time, there was still a lot of light to take advantage of. However, the photos aren't the crispest, and the colors aren't as vibrant as they were in real life (there was an overall blue hue to them). When I transferred the JPEG files to a computer, the colors appeared even duller than when displayed on the phone.

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