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The T-Mobile myTouch 4G is the big brother in the myTouch series. It's larger, packs much better specs, and looks great while doing so. HTC stuck to their myTouch roots with the design and kept it looking like a consumer-friendly device whereas most other devices coming out now have a very “serious business” look and feel to them. While the 3.8-inch display is a little smaller than I'm used to, I had no problems typing on the MT4G. If anything, it was easier to type on. This device will definitely bring a good rep for the myTouch series.

Design & Features

The myTouch 4G box is more of a zip-pouch that resembles a Nintendo DS case to carry your games in. Inside you will find all of the normal things you'd find in any cell phone box; headphones, USB AC wall adapter, microUSB data transfer cable (also used for charging), and instruction manuals.

A few people I talked to about the myTouch 4G, prior to receiving my review unit, talked about the design of it and how they didn't like it. To be honest, that's my favorite thing about the device. It's a nice break from all of these serious looking devices. Grays, blacks, browns, with a little chrome is what we're all used to with some entry-level devices coming in various colors. What the market needed was a flagship device with a break in the pattern, and the myTouch 4G in white delivers.

The front of the device is black embossed in a chrome bezel, with five keys that are actually physical buttons (which some Android users may find distasteful). The order of these buttons is: home, menu, trackpad, back, Genius Button. It seems like every device likes to interchange the order, and I'm always hitting the wrong button. At the top left corner there is a VGA front-facing camera for video calls. On the left side is the volume rocker, a three-pin connection point, and a microUSB port. At the bottom right-edge you will find the dedicated camera button, the very bottom is the microphone, and on the top edge is the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack. On the back is the 5 megapixel camera, LED flash, and a loud speaker. The battery door is a thick metal plate that snaps into place, and is surrounded by a high-quality, glossy, white plastic. The majority of the body of the device is plastic, but it has a very solid feel to it, and enough heft to give it a nice feel in the hand.

Usability & Performance

When you turn on the device for the first time, you will be prompted with a setup menu. It will walk you through everything. For first-time users, this is great. I found it a little annoying since I already know how I want my device set up. At the end of the walk-through was the option to choose between seven different themes so you can truly make the device yours. The myTouch 4G has Sense on it, but it's a specialized version for the myTouch line. At first, I despised it. I didn't like the boxed icons at all, but over time I grew used to them and the UI. I really started to like it after a few days.

One of my favorite things about the device is the super-crisp display. At times, it looks a little washed out, but it usually renders colors well. One thing I noticed about the brightness of the display is that the auto-brightness setting was a little off. It would go bright and dim on its own without any outside interference. Other than that, I haven't had a single issue from the device.

The internals of the device left me wanting a little bit, but that's just the memory hoard in me. It comes with 1 GB of internal memory and ships with an 8 GB microSD card installed in the back. Even if you install a lot of applications on your devices, you should still be fine with 1 GB of internal. The myTouch 4G is also equipped with Android 2.2 out-of-box, which allows your to store part of you applications on your SD card, which is expandable up to 32 GB.

When it comes to taking pictures with this device, I was unimpressed. The auto-focus seemed to work fine, and looking at the pictures on the device after taking them, they appeared to be just fine. But when I loaded them on a computer, they were all blurry. I tried this several times in different lighting scenarios, and it's just a little buggy. One or two of all of the pictures I took were focused and clear. I didn't expect much from the front-facing camera though. It's only a VGA camera, mainly for video calls. You can also take some snapshots of yourself without the aid of a mirror, but they are going to be fuzzy.

I only made a few phone calls with the myTouch 4G, but the ones I made were crisp and clear. I made a few calls from within a local mall (the worst place for signal), and didn't drop the call. I haven't had a lot of hands-on time with T-Mobile so I don't know if it was the device or network, but the signal was constantly up and down. Since the device only displays “H” for both HSPA+ and HSDPA, it's impossible to tell on the fly whether you're using “4G” or not. You have to navigate into the settings for more in-depth information. That's a little unfortunate since T-Mobile is pushing the 4G branding now. The current setup doesn't allow for users to know when they're using HSPA+ over HSDPA.

The battery life was possibly the most impressive part of the myTouch 4G. Since I made the Android jump over a year ago, I've been primarily dissatisfied with Android battery life, regardless of device, manufacturer, version, etc. The myTouch 4G only carries a 1400 mAh battery as opposed to most using 1500+ mAh, but it lasts longer than any I've used to date. It may not be a lot longer, but I used it for tweeting, Facebook, uploading photos to both, calling, texts, emails, and browsing the Internet some. With all of that, between 9 am and 11 pm, the battery was still at about 20%.

One of the biggest differentiators of the myTouch series is the Genius Button. The first time I used it, it worked perfectly. I pressed the button and said, “Search PhoneDog.com.” Sure enough, seconds later a Google search page with “PhoneDog.com” as the query was loaded.  With this you can find businesses, send texts or emails, run applications, and make voice-activated phone calls. Although it works well, I don't ever see myself using voice-activated anything. I don't like the idea of talking to my phone, and it just makes me look funny whether I'm in the car or walking around in public. One negative aspect of the Genius Button is that it has a problem picking up what you're saying with ambient background noise. It mistakes some of that for your search query and skews some results. If you're going to use this, make sure to step into a quiet room first.

With the 1 GHz processor, I have yet to experience any lag. It's a snappy little device and everything seems to load quickly. Even when you turn it off. After power down, rebooting only takes about three seconds. With that being said, selecting “power off” is not a full power down. It's just a deep hibernation mode. Pulling the battery out and powering back on takes 20-30 seconds to reboot.

Conclusion

The myTouch 4G definitely lives up to the hype. As we saw last week, it ousted the G2 as #1 in PhoneDog's “Best Smartphones” rankings. About a month or two ago, I remember saying I couldn't use a device with less than a 4-inch screen as I have big thumbs, but the 3.8-inch screen on this device felt fine. It fits well in the hand and has a great feel to it. Between its premium hardware and nearly flawless experience software-wise, the myTouch 4G would probably make spot number two on my own personal list of devices, if not first place. If white isn't your color, there are three other colors to choose from: plum, black, and red. The altered Sense UI helps first-time buyers ease into the realm of Android and doesn't get in the way of long-time users that already know what they're doing and how they want it set up. For $199.99 with a two-year agreement, the myTouch 4G will not disappoint.

Overview

What's Good: The T-Mobile myTouch 4G has a very friendly form factor and size; great battery life in comparison to other Android devices; very loud speaker; no lag; unobtrusive custom user interface that comes with a few different theme choices out-of-box; bright, crisp display; 4G speeds; front-facing camera for self-shots and video calling; trackpad for those spelling mistakes since there is no physical keyboard.

What's Bad: The camera auto-focus has issues; hard to tell whether you're running on HSDPA or HSPA+; altered Sense UI may not appeal to all; trackpad is insensitive.

The Verdict: The myTouch 4G is one of my favorite devices I've used to date. The 3.8-inch screen is a decent size and after carrying a Motorola Droid X for months now is a nice weight change in my pocket. It's very thin and light, but packs a punch with its 4G speeds and exceptional battery life. The price is only average at $199.99 with a two-year agreement, but definitely worth it. The myTouch Sense user interface simplifies Android quite a bit, which can be fairly confusing to first-time smartphone users. This device is great for first-time users and smartphone veterans alike with its impressive specifications and simple UI.


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