The Good: Beautiful screen; well-designed physical keyboard; Sense UI; the phone looks great.
The Bad: Experienced some connections issues; mid-range smartphone.
The Verdict: The myTouch 3G Slide is the best mid-range Android phone with a physical keyboard I've used recently. It may not have the best specs, but performance was stellar and it's a device that gets the job done and is a blast to use.
Once they hear the specs for a phone like the myTouch 3G Slide, most people usually write it off as a "puny" phone that's not even worth their consideration. This is a huge mistake. The myTouch Slide has plenty to offer, performs very well, and gives it all to you in a sleek and sexy package. With Android 2.1 and Sense, a full QWERTY keyboard, and a decent camera, the myTouch Slide is a welcome addition to the myTouch line of 3G smartphones from T-Mobile.
Design & Features
The packaging for he myTouch Slide is quite unique. It comes in some sort of metal-looking plastic case that pops open. Inside, everything is tucked away in foam padding. Inside you'll fine the device, modular USB-based charger, microUSB-to-standard USB data cable, 3.5 mm headset with an inline mic and music controls, a 1300 mAh battery, and the usual Getting Started Guides, etc.
The myTouch Slide is about the size you would expect a phone with a physical keyboard to be, but the rounded edges and corners keep it from looking too big or bulky.The phone measures 4.55" x 2.37" x .6" and weighs 5.8 ounces. So expect something similar to the Motorola Droid or Samsung Moment. The screen on the myTouch is one of the features that really stands out. It's a 3.4" HVGA capacitive touchscreen and it is beautiful. Colors are rich and vibrant and the clarity is great. Granted, it's no Retina Display, but for a mid-range smartphone, I'm deeply impressed.
Other design features include a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a dedicated camera button on the right side of the phone, hardware buttons on the front for Home, Menu, Back, and the Genius function, and a 5 megapixel camera on the back next to the speakerphone grill. The microSD card slot is housed underneath the battery cover. The myTouch also has an optical D-Pad.
Usability & Performance
Right off the bat I'm going to say that Sense, especially this custom version of Sense that the myTouch Slide uses, is not for everyone. Some people may prefer stock Android. If you're one of those people, you won't enjoy the custom UI on this device. That being said, if you're into Sense or want a little more design and spunk on your phone, the myTouch Slide packs a powerful punch. There's plenty of colors, buttons, and custom widgets you can add and customize. It's still Android and it's still awesome, but imagine an awesome and beautiful Android. One example of this is the themes that you can choose. This will change the color of certain texts or menu bars. You'll also notice that the apps now have a translucent border around them. I thought this would be bothersome, since I'm used to stock Android without a border around the apps, but it really wasn't. You notice it, but it's not something that takes away from the performance of the device. There are a few other minor changes - the menu bar at the bottom is actually a bar with the some color to it, the menu itself isn't quite as basic-looking as on stock Android and there is a nifty new Recent list in the notifications bar that shows the apps you used most recently. These are all things that may aggravate some people and make it seem more "kiddish" (in the words of some that I've talked to), but if you're into design and style, you won't mind the new look at all.
The touchscreen also works great. Sliding between screens was smooth and using multi-touch to zoom in and out was great. Zooming was a bit choppy, but nothing more than what could be expected with a mid-range smartphone.
Though the myTouch Slide doesn't come with the awe-inspiring 1GHz Snapdragon processor, it gets by just fine with its 600 MHz ARM processor. Apps loaded quickly, Google maps worked great, and I never had to wait longer than a second for most tasks. I did, however, have a few problems with web browsing. When I had 3G and full bars, web browsing was zippy and quick. However, the phone was constantly switching between 3G and EDGE. Sometimes pages wouldn't load at all. Granted, through half of my testing there was a storm outside, so that could've been the cause. But I had these issues even before the storm. In the days since then, speeds have been better. T-Mobile's HSPA+ network will offer even quicker speeds for those in regions where it is available. Call quality has been clear and good. The phone also supports WIFI 802.11 b/g, and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Both performed very well and were easy to set up.
The myTouch Slide also comes with two more features that you won't see on an other current device - myModes and the Genius button. myModes is a very interesting idea that I think could be useful in real-world settings. Will it actually be used? Well, that's kind of like the debate surrounding video calling. Some say most definitely yes, some say probably not once the hype wears off. The idea of myModes is to customize your phone to fit each "role" you play from day to day. You can have a Work mode, a Home mode, a Vacation mode, or a Family Time mode. You can have a mode for whatever you want. Each time the mode changes, your phone completely changes. Everything from the wallpaper to your alarms, as well as the apps on your homescreen can be customized for each mode. And you can set the mode to change automatically based on what time it is or where you are at. You can also set it to change only when you manually tell it to. Nifty? Yes. Will it be used? That's up to you. I think it's a fun feature, but we'll have to see if it catches on.
The Genius button is something we've seen on other devices. It's basically an automated system to make the phone perform basic commands like calling someone, sending someone a text message, searching the web, or finding a nearby business. In my tests, it worked great. I could say "Send text message to Sydney. I'm running late. I'll call you when I get there" and the phone would use the info in my Contacts to create the text message and type out exactly what I said. It worked great. I had a few problems with the voice recognition part, but it worked well enough to be a useful tool.
Now, I know what you're thinking. 'What about the physical keyboard? That's one of the reasons why I'm interested in this phone.' Okay so the keyboard works great. Granted, everyone is going to feel differently about it, but I think this one can be universally liked, if not adapted to. The keys are domed and well separated so it's easy to distinguish one from the other. They also have some slight stickiness to them, in a good way. They're not quite as sticky as the keys on the Pre or Pixi, but they're just sticky enough to where your fingers don't slide across them before you can even press one. In testing, typing was easy and the optical D-Pad came in handy for any corrections I needed to do. The phone also comes with the Swype keyboard.
Finally, last but certainly not least, the camera. The phone features a 5MP camera with a single-LED flash that is capable of capturing video with a resolution of 640 x 480. In tests, the camera took adequate pictures and colors seemed to pop a bit more compared to other cameras. All of this is powered by a 1300 mAh battery. For me, the battery lasted nearly exactly one day. Performance will vary depending on what the phone is doing, but with carrying out normal tasks like checking my e-mail, making calls, sending text messages, browsing the web, and keeping my Twitter feed updated every 15 minutes, I'd say one day is about what I expected anyway.
The myTouch 3G Slide may not have the specs of the Droid Incredible or the EVO 4G, but it has plenty to offer by way of features and performs outstandingly. The fact that it has a physical keyboard makes it worth your attention, but the fact that it is one of the best mid-range smartphones I've used makes it worth your buy. This custom version of Sense might not be for everyone, but it certainly doesn't take away from the performance of the phone. The myTouch Slide is a solid contender in the smartphone market. It's packed with features (some of them exclusive), has a full QWERTY keyboard, and performs every task in a timely manner. Pick one up at a T-Mobile store near you and see for yourself.