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T-Mobile MyTouch review: T-Mobile MyTouch

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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.

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6.3

T-Mobile MyTouch

The Good

The <b>T-Mobile MyTouch</b> 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.

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.

Design
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.

Features
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.

The front-facing camera, however, took much better photos than I expected. True, they're fuzzy and washed out, but the camera was still able to adequately capture my post-hike-disheveled self clearly enough.


Don't let these blue tones fool you--Mission Peak was not this melancholy-looking in real life.


The photo quality of the front-facing camera was better than I anticipated, but a lot of light was available.


As you can see from our standard shot, the blue hue is still there.

As for the video recording quality, it was only subpar. Because there's no autofocus function, exposure cannot be adjusted. That means that every lightbulb and window is completely washed out, and every minor shadow or dark piece of furniture is completely underexposed and blacked out. And of course there's that inescapable bluish hue. There was also a perpetual low crackling noise that could be heard during my recordings that didn't get in the way of recorded voices or loud noises, but it was prevalent during times when silence was recorded.

Performance
I tested the quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) MyTouchhere in San Francisco. Call quality is perfectly adequate. I noticed a low buzzing, almost crackling, sound whenever I was waiting for a call to pick up, but it was only very slight. Also, when people did eventually pick up, their voices were clear and came across fine with no problems.

T-Mobile MyTouch by LG call quality sample Listen now:

I experienced a few dropped calls, unfortunately. Sometimes it occurred when I was on a call, but it became particularly annoying while I was performing the battery drain tests. The phone would hang up the call (even though reception wasn't lost) consistently around the 4-hour mark for no reason.

The speaker quality is nothing to brag about either. When I put calls on speaker, listened to music, watched streaming videos, or played games without my headphones, the sound quality was all kinds of bad. Especially at a high volume, sounds reverberated from the back of the phone, coming out muffled, grainy, and too sharp. This is due, I'm sure, to the fact that the speaker isn't fully exposed (it's partially covered by the phone's back cover). Which raises the question: if you can only show that much of a speaker, why not shrink it so it can at least be fully exposed and be heard clearly?

Furthermore, due to the position of the speaker--on the left, at the back--you're almost guaranteed to cover it up with your hand most of the time. This becomes bothersome when video chatting. I ended up holding the phone by its top half (which was awkward) or pinching it by its side at the bottom (which was difficult and made it prone to dropping).

Speaking of video chatting, when I used the Google+ app the video feedback from my phone was inexplicably turned on its side. Even when I switched from the front-facing camera to the back, my friend still had to tilt his head in order to make sense of what he was seeing. Aside from our sore necks, however, video chatting was fine. Some audio feedback cut in and out, sometimes longer than I'd like, but video remained consistent and voices were clear.

Because the MyTouch by LG runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+ data network (UMTS 1,700/2,100MHz), browsing the Web and downloading apps didn't take very long. Downloading the 8.33MB Google+ app, for instance, took 45 seconds. Fruit Ninja, at 18.34MB, took 1 minute and 17 seconds. Loading the CNET mobile site took 43 seconds, while loading our full site took 26 seconds. The New York Times full site took even less time, clocking in at 17 seconds, and its mobile site only took 7 seconds to load. ESPN's mobile site took 6 seconds, and its full site loaded in 41 seconds.

Unfortunately, the speed of the phone itself wasn't so impressive. I found it to be quite laggy, and noticed it especially when I clicked out of a few apps to go to the home screen, or when I switched the Web browser from portrait to landscape mode. Even though the phone probably took only a few nanoseconds more to do such tasks, if it's slow enough to even notice, then it's slow.

What wasn't slow was the response time of the touch screen. The sensitivity of the screen is up to par, as my sword chops during a game of Fruit Ninja were accurately timed and were not delayed at all. Texting using the Swype function was also swiftly responsive.

As far as hardware goes, the MyTouch has a removable lithium ion 1,500mAh battery. Its promised talk time is 4.02 hours and standby time is 312.5 hours (both when operating on a GSM network). If there's anything I have credit the MyTouch for, however, it has to be that it didn't go down without a fight. During the battery drain tests (the ones that had to be repeated multiple times due to randomly dropped calls), the phone took a whopping 8.58 hours to finally die. That's more than twice as long as its reported talk time.

Be careful, though; battery usage can be a mixed bag. If you research the phone a little more deeply, you'll find that some users complain that the battery didn't last long for them at all. I didn't have any problems in my model, but it's still something to keep in mind.

According to FCC radiation tests, the MyTouch by LG has a digital SAR rating of 1.30W/kg.

Conclusion
The T-Mobile MyTouch by LG is a good entry-level phone for people who are looking for an easy-to-use and simple first smartphone. Because of its lightweight and slim design, it's a breeze to handle while making calls and texting. In San Francisco, I found the network to be fast and zippy, and who can argue with such a low (that is, nonexistent) price?

Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. A lot of small things that weren't so intolerable by themselves added up quickly. The lack of a camera flash, the poor speaker, and the laggy interface turned me off. Then again, if you hardly see yourself taking pictures at night or blasting music from your phone, and and you don't mind a few nanoseconds of waiting, the MyTouch may be perfectly suitable for you (and I genuinely mean that). But if you do want a quality midtier phone and are willing to pay more than no dollars, perhaps it'd be best to look elsewhere.

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6.3

T-Mobile MyTouch

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 6