Review: T-Mobile myTouch 3G with Google [Update]

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It’s been nine months since I first dabbled in the world of Android. It wasn’t a pretty picture then, but a lot has changed in those short nine months. The platform has grown and become more stable. The Market is filled with useful and enjoyable apps. Cupcake has had the biggest impact thus far but we eagerly await what Donut has to offer.

Changes to the OS have been well publicized and covered at length, but we’ve been stuck with one piece of hardware, the G1. Despite its many inadequacies, it’s managed to carry the platform until now. Enter the myTouch 3G with Google from T-Mobile. It’s a rapid departure from what we’ve grown accustomed to with the G1. It lacks a physical keyboard, but has a boost in RAM ROM and one key software enhancement that many have been longing for. It also falls in line with the rest of HTC’s gorgeous hardware lineup. Many will have to wait until August 5 to pick up the latest Android device, but we’ve had one for a little over 48 hours and we can’t put it down.

Let’s start with the operating system. Just like the G1, the myTouch runs a flavor of Cupcake (1.5), COC10, that doesn’t seem to differ from the CRC1 build that was pushed out over the weekend for the G1. HTC really rained on T-Mobile’s parade by introducing the Sense UI on the Hero because it makes the generic Android UI even uglier, but it’s much snappier than the Hero’s Sense UI.

Despite its lack of a physical QWERTY keyboard, the myTouch’s virtual QWERTY works just fine. Those with bear claws will need to resort to using the landscape keyboard because the 3.2-inch screen leaves very little room to comfortably type on the portrait keyboard. This happens to be the one area where I’m tempted to make a direct comparison to the iPhone. The 0.3-inch advantage makes a huge difference.

Enabling haptic feedback makes the experience marginally better but it’s still difficult to walk down the street and compose emails or text messages one handed in portrait mode. You’re forced to constantly look down and make sure you’re tapping out what you want.

The one software advantage the myTouch has over the G1 is Exchange support. G1 owners will not be receiving this update so keep this in mind if your company doesn’t issue BlackBerrys or Windows Mobile devices.

Battery life seems to be marginally better than the G1, but only by a hair. Alas, all 3G devices packed with Wi-Fi, GPS and a decent browser will suffer from horrendous battery life. The myTouch 3G is no different.

And for whatever reason, I still have issues with the GPS on HTC’s Android devices. Maybe it’s the area of Manhattan I live in, but I can never get a GPS lock when I’m indoors. Comparatively, the iPhone 3G and BlackBerry Curve 8900 have no trouble whatsoever in the same location. When I’m out and about, however, the myTouch locks on quickly. You might wonder why I care about getting a GPS lock indoors and you’re not alone. Doug thinks I’m crazy, but when you enter a building on 3rd Avenue, for example, that doesn’t mean you’ll be facing 3rd Avenue. It’s weird, I know, but I like to know where I am in the building. But the GPS works just fine the way it’s meant to work. I’m just being nitpicky.

Jumping from the G1 to the myTouch can be a little awkward for the first few hours. The button layout is obviously different since the myTouch sports seven physical buttons to the G1’s six. The buttons are tiny, but they’re spaced out accordingly so you won’t be hitting the wrong button. The trackball is much bigger and has a soft coating finish that makes it feel silky smooth.

HTC’s hardware has a come a long way — the myTouch is a sexy little device. It feels good in the hand with a polished plastic case. The chin isn’t as pronounced as it is on the G1 or Hero. Additionally, HTC rounded off the top of the device in an almost chin-like manner, making the bottom seem smaller as a result.

HTC isn’t known for producing great camera phones. You know it. Hell, they know it. I’ve heard them talk about it. So it should come as no surprise that the myTouch’s 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera is so-so. Without a physical camera button, you’ll want to make a shortcut on your home screen for the camera. Picture quality is decent enough to send to friends via MMS or upload to Facebook. Same deal with video.

Overall performance (when it comes to apps) on the myTouch is the same as it is on the G1. However, the myTouch fires up in about 52 seconds with the G1 following up around the one minute mark. Certain apps open quicker on the myTouch than the G1, but it goes both ways. There’s roughly 280MB of onboard storage and that’s nearly not enough if you’re downloading tons of apps. Unfortunately, the myTouch doesn’t play well with 16GB microSD cards. In fact, it completely chorks on them.

Conclusion

So, with all of that being said, should current G1 owners upgrade to the myTouch 3G? If you don’t mind a cramped virtual keyboard (portrait only, landscope is fine) and you’re in dire need of Exchange support, then go for it. If I was new to the whole T-Mobile/Android scene, I’d go with the myTouch. It’s smaller, sexier, and way better looking than the G1. You’ll miss the QWERTY keyboard at first, but you’ll adapt. It’s not as bad as you’d expect.

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G with Google will be available on August 5 for $200 at T-Mobile, Best Buy, Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club.

If there’s something we missed that you would like to know about then please leave a comment and we’ll do our best to check it out for you.

Note: As we promised we would when we declared our dislike for non-3.5mm headset jacks back in May, we must point out that the myTouch uses the HTC extUSB port for audio. To use your own headphones, you’ll need an adaptor, and that just plain sucks. However – HTC has since told us that they’ll be going with 3.5mm jacks on as many future handsets as possible, so we’ll cut them some slack.

Update: It appears the myTouch doesn’t take kindly to rough petting of the trackball. When quickly scrolling through emails via trackball the myTouch likes to open up random emails and bring up “Labels”. What’s up with that?

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