What's hot: A high end myTouch Android smartphone with a fast CPU, front camera and 1GHz CPU.
What's not: Though high res, display isn't as sharp as the Samsung Vibrant and T-Mobile G2.
Reviewed November 2, 2010 by Lisa Gade, Editor
The myTouch line of Android phones built by HTC have been T-Mobile's halo line of Android phones, though they've all been mid-range phones in terms of specs and features. The T-Mobile myTouch 4G breaks into superphone territory, though it's not quite there. The myTouch features a 3.8" 800 x 480 pixel multi-touch display (previous myTouch models have been 320 x 480), a 1GHz second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 4G in the form of HSPA+ and a front-facing video conferencing camera that works with Qik. While the recently released T-Mobile G2 (also made by HTC) has 4G, it lacks the front-facing camera and runs on the same CPU clocked down to 800MHz. While the G2 is a vanilla Android 2.2 Froyo phone that has business appeal thanks to its keyboard and stately metal design, the myTouch 4G, like other myTouch models, targets consumers with its slate design, HTC mySense software on top of Froyo and consumer-oriented bundled software.
The myTouch 3G and myTouch 3G Slide were attractive but plasticky phones. The 4G model is more beefy: it feels pleasingly weighty in hand and it has a metal battery cover. It's available in 4 colors: black, white, red and plum and it by no means feels like a budget phone. At $199 with contract, it's priced the same as T-Mobile's high end Android smartphones, the G2 and Samsung Vibrant, so it needs to look good. The front face is gloss black plastic just like the Vibrant, but it lacks the dark chrome surround that gives the Vibrant a touch of class. In terms of sturdiness, it feels like it could beat the living daylights out of the Vibrant and even give the rugged Motorola Defy a tough time.
For a high end phone, we were surprised that the myTouch 4G has mechanical rather than touch activated buttons on the front face. Three of the four usual Android buttons are here: Home, back and menu but not search. Search has been replaced by the "Genius" button (first seen on the myTouch Slide). It triggers Nuance's Dragon Dictation Mobile voice command software, which works well and allows you to address a text message to a contact, call someone, search and more. The Genius button can't be re-assigned to another app or function, but we suspect most folks will find it useful and not wish to change it.
The smartphone has HTC's usual optical d-pad, and it works well. HTC keeps it simple: there are just side buttons for volume and the camera. We assume T-Mobile will offer a dock since the phone has 3 small electrical contacts on the left side. The myTouch 4G has an accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor and a compass that worked well in our tests. The power button is up top and the micro USB port at the bottom-- a more sensible arrangement than the Vibrant's.
Deals and Shopping:
Phone and Data
The myTouch 4G is a good voice phone that's clear for both incoming and outgoing voice. Noise reduction is solid but not stellar (when calling from a big box store, call recipients could hear some noise but it didn't overwhelm my voice), and volume is average through the earpiece. To our ears, calls were a bit clearer and cleaner sounding via the earpiece on the G2 vs. the myTouch 4G. Speaker volume is moderate and it's louder than the G2's quiet speaker, but quality is a bit harsh and thin. The phone is a quad band world phone with 3G and 4G on T-Mobile's US bands. The myTouch 4G works with Bluetooth headsets and car kits, as well as A2DP stereo headsets. It has WiFi calling, not to be confused with T-Mobile's UMA calling. What's the difference? UMA calling offered seamless handoff between WiFi and cell networks. With WiFi calling, if you walk out of WiFi range, the call drops. It's useful if your home, workplace or school isn't in a good T-Mobile reception area. Reception is middling, falling below the HTC T-Mobile G2 and Samsung Vibrant with the recent firmware update by -5db or 1 bar.
This is the first T-Mobile phone to ship with Mobile Hotspot software (the G2 should be receiving it via an OTA update). Like the HTC Evo 4G on Sprint and the Palm Pre Plus on Verizon, the myTouch 4G can act as a high speed wireless modem for your laptop or other WiFi-enabled device. Turn on the Mobile Hotspot feature and your laptop, iPad or other device can connect to the myTouch's WiFi network. T-Mobile charges $15/month additional if you wish to use this feature, and it does not increase your bandwidth allowance (nor does it on other carriers). Speeds as measured using Speedtest.net on our 15" MacBook Pro and HP Envy 15 were 2.5Mpbs down and 1Mbps up. That's the same results we got with the T-Mobile G2, but strangely slower than with our Samsung Vibrant (not billed as HSPA+) that we rooted so we could use the Wireless Tether application. Our Vibrant averages 5Mpbs for download speeds-- nice.
The phone has the usual Android Webkit-based multi-touch browser and Google's standard Gmail and email clients. There's support for POP3, IMAP and MS Exchange email but the phone doesn't come with any software for Exchange ActiveSync to sync contacts and calendar items with Exchange servers. You can however purchase 3rd party software if you need this. Download speeds over T-Mobile's HSPA+ network in our area ranged from 2.5Mpbs to 6Mpbs (similar to the G2 and a little bit faster than the Vibrant).
Horsepower, Benchmarks and HTC mySense Software
The T-Mobile myTouch 4G is among the fastest of Android phones thanks to Froyo (Google's fastest OS version to date) and the second generation Snapdragon CPU. This is the same CPU used in the G2, but the G2 is underclocked to 800MHz, so the benchmark numbers are slightly lower. Both phones feel fast, and it's a tie in terms of application speed, video playback performance and data download speeds.
The myTouch has to do a little more work since it runs HTC's mySense software on top of Android. This is in some ways a version of HTC Sense for newbies, and probably since we're not newbies, we prefer Sense over mySense. The software provides social networking widgets that integrate nicely with your contacts and it sets up a few starter widgets based on a short on-device questionnaire you take when the phone boots fresh out of the box. You can of course change these widgets later, but you can't lose the feature-phone style icons that mySense imposes.
How does the myTouch 4G do on benchmarks? Quite well. Here are the results from Softweg's benchmark (2D graphics only) and Quadrant (tests 3D graphics too).
The myTouch 4G has just over 1 gig of available internal flash storage and it ships with an 8 gig microSD card that's located under the battery door.
Here's our 15 minute video review of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G.
Display and Multimedia
The T-Mobile myTouch 4G has the usual 800 x 480 multi-touch capacitive display used on high end Android phones. It measures 3.8" diagonally, a bit smaller than the 4" Vibrant and a hair larger than the 3.7" T-Mobile G2. The display can't compete with the showy Samsung Super AMOLED display for color saturation and outdoor viewability, and it's not quite as good as the razor-sharp G2's display. Though the myTouch 4G plays with the big boys, we get the feeling HTC went with slightly less expensive display tech for the myTouch 4G. Touch responsiveness is top notch with none of the edge deadness we noted on the myTouch 3G and Nexus One. Since the phone is running Froyo (Android OS 2.2) multi-touch is supported in all key apps: Gallery, the web browser and more.
The myTouch comes with T-Mobile TV powered by MobiTV, and as you saw from our video review, it's a compelling service for $10/month if you're looking to kill some serious spare time. The service has on-demand and live TV (full episodes) and it looked quite good over a good 3G and 4G connection. Google's YouTube player is on board, and the myTouch 4G can play Flash videos in native FLV format thanks to Froyo and the Flash Player 10.1 plugin. Native Flash video playback gets a little balky at times (for some reason it's smoother on our G2) but it's certainly watchable.
For music you get the Media Room application that can handle music (AAC, MP3), videos, FM Radio (you must plug in a wired headset that acts as the antenna) and Slacker Radio. Given stock Android's deadly dull music player, Media Room is sweet. For you Amazon fans, the usual Amazon MP3 store app is on board as is the Android Voice Recorder.
Cameras, Front and Rear
We've come to expect a rear-facing main camera and camcorder on cell phones and the myTouch 4G has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus lens and LED flash. In addition, there's a front-facing VGA camera for video chatting and Qik software is pre-loaded to make use of it. Unfortunately, that service won't be ready until the myTouch 4G is released, so we couldn't test it.
The main camera takes pretty sharp shots, and though we've historically complained about HTC's cameras, this is one of their best efforts. Features include continuous autofocus (though it's not lighting fast), effects, ISO, geo-tagging, face detection, widescreen mode (slightly reduces resolution since it trims the top and bottom) and custom image adjustments. The camera can shoot video at 720p with decent color saturation and a near 30fps (29) frame rate. It's not as good as iPhone 4 video, but it's some of the best video we've seen from an HTC phone.
Battery Life, GPS
The myTouch 4G has better battery life than Samsung Vibrant (that's not hard), but not quite as long-lived as the T-Mobile G2 which has a 100mAh lower capacity battery but a lower-clocked CPU that counters battery drain. We had no trouble making it through the day with moderate use, but did have to plug in each night by 11pm (8pm with heavy use).
Location services work well on the myTouch 4G, and the phone works with Google Maps, Navigation, Places and other location-based services. Google Navigation provides spoken turn-by-turn directions for free, and TeleNav is currently absent from the phone. The compass worked well in our tests, just as it did with the HTC G2-- it's quite handy for walking directions.
If you're a myTouch 3G owner, the myTouch 4G is a big step up, and we have a feeling you'll love HTC's latest Android slab phone on T-Mobile. Clearly the phone targets those who don't want a hardware keyboard-- there's the T-Mobile G2 for you folks. The myTouch 4G clearly has more of a consumer and multimedia-oriented set of features than the G2 with T-Mobile TV, a custom music player that also handles Slacker and FM radio and several bundled trial games with good graphics. 4G HSPA+ speeds are very good and the myTouch 4G downloads apps from the Android Market much more quickly than the myTouch3G. And for those of you who need mobile 4G for your iPad or notebook, the myTouch 4G's WiFi hotspot feature makes it brain-dead easy. That service will cost you $15 extra a month, and you'll need to be in one of the 75 metro regions currently covered by T-Mobile HSPA+. That said, even their 3G network pumps data more quickly than does AT&T in many regions. We give the myTouch 4G a big thumbs up, though we wish the display were as sharp as the G2's and as vibrant as the Vibrant's.
Phone:GSM quad band with 3G/4G HSDPA and HSPA+ on T-Mobile's 1700/2100MHz bands. Supports WiFi calling.
Camera: 5 MP main camera with autofocus and LED flash (can shoot 720p video). Front-facing video chat camera that works with Qik.
in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone
jack. Comes with Nuance Dragon Dictation software for voice commands (activated via the Genius button).
WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth. Supports WiFi calling and mobile Hotspot feature.
Software:Android OS 2.2 Froyo with HTC MySense software. Standard suite of Google apps including Google Maps and Navigation, Gmail, YouTube Player, Gtalk, Google Search and Gallery. T-Mobile software: bundled trial games include Asphalt 5 3D racing game, Rock Band and Monopoly. T-Mobile TV (powered by MobiTV), WiFi Calling, WiFi Hotspot and T-Mobile account manager. MySense software includes a bar code scanner, Media Room (media player that houses music, video, FM radio and Slacker), Car Dock, Flashlight, myModes, Desk Clock, FriendStream social networking software and contacts integration with social networks. 3rd party software: Adobe Flash Player 10.1, QuickOffice (view and create MS Word and Excel compatible files), PDF viewer and Yahoo Messenger.