With the HTC Sensation coming out last month, T-Mobile continues its barrage of new phones this summer with what they have been touting as the most advanced camera ever available on a mobile phone in the HTC myTouch 4G Slide. As of today you can walk in to your local T-Mobile store and purchase this phone for $199 with activation or renewal of your contract after rebate.
myTouch 4G Slide Pros
• Dual-Core Snapdragon Processor is on par with any current top phone on the Market
• User Interface is both complete and well designed. (both hardware and software)
• Camera is truly one of the best cell phone cameras on the market
• Full featured with latest Android Gingerbread software and HTC Sense 3.0
myTouch 4G Slide Cons
• Overall build quality feels a bit cheap with sharp edges and slippery surfaces
• WVGA screen is dated and really should have been qHD with “best” Camera
• Battery life is abysmal, may be worse than the HTC Sensation
Website: myTouch 4G Slide
Overall call quality has been excellent with this phone. With more than 20 calls around my area, I only encountered one dropped call in a known dead zone. With rumours of the “death grip” being an issue on the HTC Sensation, I tried palming this phone and did not find any significant change in reception and number of bars. Call clarity was excellent overall with callers coming in very clear in both the earpiece and the speaker phone.
External Phone Design
I was a bit underwhelmed by the physical design of the device. The first thing you notice is how heavy it was when you are holding it and you wonder if it is about to slide out of your hand because all the surfaces are smooth and a bit slippery. The external plastic felt flimsy and cheap, and the sharp edges of the phone made it a bit too retro for my taste.
The keyboard was also not quite as well designed as the Sidekick and the buttons felt like flat, sterile nylon buttons on medical devices. Personally, I am not a fan of slide out keyboards because I feel like I am playing a harmonica with my hand sliding back and forth across the phone to push all the buttons. But if you have fat fingers, this keyboard may save you from that embarrassing autocorrect miss-type on the Facebook page of that girl you like.
Software and User Interface
This is where HTC really got it right. With Sense 3.0 installed on top of Android, HTC did an excellent job of creating a very user friendly interface that includes a full qwerty slide out keyboard, genius button, dedicated camera button, Swype digital keyboard and a better phone app than the Sensation. Noticeably missing though is the lockscreen quick launch icons that are available on both the Sensation and the Evo 3D as well as two less screens for widgets and apps. You also get the feeling that they added one too many buttons on this phone with the barely noticeable iPhone like middle button that I didn’t see until my second day of testing this phone. I also did not prefer the physical buttons right below the capacitive touch screen as it was difficult to change gears when using both the touch screen and the physical buttons concurrently. But even with those negatives, the UI is a noticeable upgrade from the HTC Sensation. The Swype keyboard and the new, clearer phone app alone made me very happy with the overall user experience of this phone.
The 3.7-inch LCD WVGA touch screen was bright and clear, but it definitely leaves you wanting when you compare it to the latest Samsung AMOLED, iPhone Retina display or the Sensation’s qHD. It is definitely not the latest and greatest, and it is even more disappointing when you realise that the camera would have been that much more awesome with a better screen. It does its job, but if screen is important to you, you will be disappointed with the display on this phone.
With the dual-core snapdragon processors powering this phone, it speeds through apps and web browsing like a champ. There was virtually no lag when zooming and jumping in and out of apps. As apps require more and more processing power to run, dual-core phones like these make me feel confident that mobile phone technology will keep pace with those needs. As always, T-Mobile’s 4G speeds were generally impressive unless you were in a high population area at which point it drops to almost unusable.
Battery life is a complete fail. Taking the phone off the charger at 8 am, the phone went completely dead by 5 pm with moderate use. (Two hours of talk time and an hour of web browsing). The 1540 mAh Li-ion battery really needs to be replaced with an extended battery or you need to have access to a charger at some point to get through the day.
Last, but most definitely not least, the camera lives up to all the hype that T-Mobile is pumping up for this device. With a nice, wide 2.2f aperture lens, 8MP BSI CMOS sensor and almost full-featured camera software, you can pretty much leave your point and shoot camera at home when you go out to party with your friends. The camera software allows you to do SweepShot Panorama, HDR, Multiple BurstShot, Portrait Mode, Effects, Night, Action, Macro and Manual modes. The dedicated camera button allows you to press halfway to focus and take shots instantly with no lag. This camera truly makes me feel like the next victim of the rise of smart phones after flip cameras will be point and shoot cameras. For more information on that, check out Mike Perlman’s Technobuffalo Gadgetmania comparison of this phone and a Sony point and shoot.
There are three things that are going to make you want to buy this phone: The keyboard, the camera and the fact that it is one of the latest and greatest. I was definitely impressed with the overall user experience of this phone and the camera really made me feel comfortable leaving my Canon point and shoot at home. If you are deciding between the Sensation and this phone, do it based on the importance of the keyboard first, and then the camera. You will hate the keyboard if you never use it, because it adds bulk and weight. If you recently got an HTC Sensation, there is no reason to covet this phone too much. Be happy that you already own T-Mobile’s current flagship 4G phone. I can confidently recommend T-Mobile’s myTouch 4G Slide over any other 4G phone they currently have except the Sensation. I am definitely looking forward to seeing the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G coming out as well as the iPhone 5 potentially giving HTC a run for their money this fall.
(Thank you to Danny Yao for contributing to this piece)