T-Mobile's myTouch line of phones have historically consisted of good-quality devices with solid performance and a design and user interface that appealed to so-called "average consumers", or those who weren't familiar with Android. With the myTouch 4G and myTouch 4G Slide, the smartphone line crossed over into powerhouse territory. T-Mobile is taking a step back a bit and relaunching the myTouch line with a new manufacturing partner and, apparently, a new approach. T-Mobile and LG have reinvented the myTouch line with two new mid-ranged devices, the myTouch and the myTouch Q. There are a few small differences between the two devices, but the most obvious one can be caught in the names of the phones themselves - the myTouch Q has a physical QWERTY keyboard and the myTouch does not.
With a reasonable asking price and cool features like 4G, mobile hotspot support, and HD video capture, the myTouch Q sounds appealing. However, as we've learned with these inexpensive smartphones, they can either be a very good deal or a very bad deal. Specifications do not always tell the whole story. So what's the story with the myTouch Q? I'm still finding that out, but so far, I'm fairly impressed with the phone. Granted, you get what you pay for, but my first impressions of the phone are good, overall. Here are a few things I've taken note of:
- The myTouch Q has a good feel to it. The curved corners and edges make it feel slimmer than it really is. The phone is narrow rather than wide which allows for a comfortable grip while holding it. Though it's made entirely out of plastic, it feels solid and a has good amount of weight, though it's not going to weigh your hand down too much. I did notice the extra weight in my purse, though.
- Though this isn't a comparison article, I will note a few differences between the myTouch and myTouch Q just in case you're trying to pick between the two. The myTouch Q has a smaller display, though not by much, and its display isn't as impressive as the myTouch's. It has a lower resolution and the display technology itself is of lower quality. Still, the 3.5-inch display on the myTouch Q seems to be large enough for general, everyday tasks. Typing on the small display won't be a problem since you have the physical keyboard.
- Speaking of the keyboard, it's great. It's entirely different from the keyboards on previous myTouch devices that featured a physical QWERTY, but that's understandable since this one is made by a different hardware manufacturer. The keys are plastic, something I typically don't like. Plastic keys can be slippery and make typing very difficult. However, these keys are not too firm and they're flat, so getting a quick grip on each key and pressing it is easy. The keyboard also has handy shortcut keys for Menu, Messaging, Web, and Home along with plenty of dedicated punctuation keys. There are primary keys for the comma, period, question mark, and the at symbol. It's rare to see a keyboard with separate keys for all of these punctuation marks, and it makes typing very comfortable.
- As I mentioned earlier, myTouch phones have mostly featured a proprietary user interface that is user-friendly with plenty of graphical additions and colorful menus. LG has clearly made some changes to their UI, assumably to continue this tradition. For example, the clear background for app shortcuts is back. LG's UI also includes a homescreen dock, toggle buttons in the notification drawer, a categorized app drawer, and a new look to the Phone and Messaging interface, among other things. LG's UI is definitely a consumerized experience so if you're an Android purist, you may want to look elsewhere. For everyone else, the experience is enjoyable, if slightly cartoonish. The myTouch Q ships with the most recent version of Android that is currently available to the public, version 2.3.
- The myTouch Q is an HSPA+ device and uses T-Mobile's 14.4 Mbps HSPA+ network. T-Mobile has faster grades available, but speeds have been good so far with the myTouch Q. Interestingly, though, 4G speeds have been consistently slower than those on the myTouch, the myTouch Q's brother (or sister). I can think of no explanation for this, other than it may use a different wireless radio, though I can't think of a logical reason why LG would use a lower quality wireless radio for one of the two phones. Average speeds while testing the phone in the Dallas area have been 3-4 Mbps, still good even if it's not as fast as the myTouch.
- Like other myTouch phones, the myTouch Q comes with Genius Button functionality. It's no Siri, but the voice capabilities are pretty darn good. I can say "Find Starbucks" and it will find a nearby Starbucks for me. I even tested it a little bit and said "Search for PhoneDog.com" and it actually typed in the correct term. (Most voice functions I've tested don't recognize the term "PhoneDog".) You can use the Genius Button to call someone, send a text, search the web, or get directions.
- The myTouch Q is powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor and has 512MB of RAM. This isn't a "beast" phone, but it should be plenty capable. I've noticed some lag while testing it out and there have been a few times when I've had to press the Home button two or three times before it responded. I'm anticipating performance like this, but if it lags too much or is unresponsive on too many occasions, I'll be disappointed. The myTouch Q scored a 1,175 on the Quadrant Standard benchmark test.
- I haven't had a chance to test out the camera just yet, but Aaron has uploaded an HD video sample that you can take a look at. Admittedly, the quality is poor, but better than what I expected from a mid-range device. Audio quality was okay and the video quality was decent, though it lacked detail. The myTouch ships with a VGA front-facing camera that can be used for self-portraits or, more likely, video calling. One benefit that the myTouch Q has over the myTouch is that its camera has an LED flash, whereas the myTouch's does not. That's something to consider.
Those are my first impressions of the phone so far, but I've got plenty of tests to run and more time to use the phone before I can decide if I'll recommend it or not. Check back in for the full review and watch the unboxing video in the meantime.