At last, we have a Google Android-based phone that's equally as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. The T-Mobile myTouch 3G is a gorgeous and powerful phone that's easy to use. Despite a few minor flaws (like a sometimes finicky touch screen and the lack of true headphone jack), the myTouch 3G is one of the best smartphones available today.
Price and Availability
The myTouch 3G is T-Mobile's second Android-based smartphone, following the T-Mobile G1, which was released in late 2008. The myTouch 3G is available for $199.99 when you sign a new two-year service contract with T-Mobile; that's $20 more than T-Mobile charged for the G1 at launch. (Note: The G1 is still available, but the price has been dropped to $150.)
The myTouch 3G is the swan to the G1's ugly duckling; where the G1 was boxy and bland, the myTouch 3G is slim and sleek. It's available in white, merlot, or black, and its lightweight design makes it comfortable to hold or slip into a pocket. Overall, the myTouch 3G simply looks more polished that the G1.
The tradeoff for the slimmer look is the lack of a hardware-based QWERTY keyboard. You're limited to using an on-screen keyboard for data entry, something that may turn off some users. While the keyboard on the G1 didn't impress me -- its keys were too flat for my taste -- using even a sub-par hardware keyboard can be easier than typing with an on-screen keyboard.
And the myTouch 3G's touch-screen didn't wow me. At times, I had to press harder than expected to get it to register my taps, and scrolling didn't feel as effortless as it does on the iPhone 3GS, or even as easy as it did on the T-Mobile G1.
The screen itself, though, is lovely. It measures 3.2 inches in diameter, and is bright and clear. Below the screen, you get a handful of buttons and a trackball for navigation. All of the buttons are clearly labeled and are nicely spaced, making them easy to use.
Call quality on the myTouch 3G is excellent. My callers sounded loud and clear, and they said the same about me. The phone's slim, light case is comfortable to hold during calls.
My only complaint with the myTouch 3G's calling feature is something I also noted when using the T-Mobile G1: the virtual keypad makes it hard to dial an extension or to input numbers (such as a voicemail code) after you call is connected. You have to reactivate the touch screen by tapping the menu button, and are then required to hit another button to bring up the keypad. The iPhone, meanwhile, senses the movement when you pull the phone away from your ear and automatically displays an appropriate menu.
Even though the myTouch 3G is a beautiful phone, its software remains the real star here. The Android operating system has been updated to version 1.5, and its shines. The three-paneled home screen (which you can access by sliding the phone's home page to the right or left) can be customized with shortcuts to the apps you use most.
The myTouch 3G doesn't come with a lot of apps installed on it, but you can find more in the Android Market. While its selection can't rival that of the iPhone App Store, the Android Market is growing. You can find a decent selection of apps for work and play, including a free version of Documents To Go, which allows you to view Microsoft Word and Excel files. (A paid version adds editing privileges, among other features.)
Gmail users will love the tight integration that Android offers with their accounts. To set up the phone, you need a Google account (if you don't have one, you can sign up easily); you enter your user name and password, and your entire Google account, including your Gmail, is automatically synced to the phone. A Gmail shortcut is among the default icons on the phone, as is a shortcut to Google Talk.
While setting up access to a Gmail account is a breeze, the same is not true of other free e-mail accounts. The myTouch 3G supports IMAP and POP3 e-mail accounts, but wouldn't allow me to use the included e-mail client to access my free Yahoo account. I was told it required a paid Yahoo Mail Plus accounts to work.
Unlike the G1, the myTouch 3G will sync with Microsoft Exchange e-mail accounts. The phone does not sync with Outlook contacts and calendars, though.
Browsing the Web
The myTouch 3G supports T-Mobile's 3G HSDPA network and Wi-Fi networks, and, in my tests, browsing was speedy. Web pages loaded quickly, and downloads were fast.
Still, the overall browsing experience can't compete with the excellent experience of using the Safari browser on an iPhone. The myTouch 3G's screen does not support multi-touch, so you can't pinch and spread the screen to zoom in and out. You're forced to resort to accessing the menu to do that. But what's more annoying is that you're forced to use a menu or the phone's buttons for tasks that should be accessible from within the browser window -- like accessing the address bar so you can type in a new URL.
The 3.2-megapixel camera is just average. While it captures video clips as well as still photos, the quality was only so-so. You get autofocus, but no flash, and few built-in editing tools. You can crop and rotate photos, but that's about it. Those features, though, are very easy to use.
Like the T-Mobile G1, the myTouch 3G comes with one-touch access to Amazon's MP3 store for DRM-free music downloads. You also get a basic music player for organizing and playing back tunes. Unfortunately, the myTouch 3G -- like the G1 -- lacks a standard headphone jack. You'll need the included adapter in order to connect headphones to the phone. Using it isn't difficult, but it can be cumbersome.
Additional features include access to Google Maps, which can deliver driving directions using the phone's built-in GPS. You also can find more software, including GPS, music, and video apps, in the Android Market.
Finally, Google's Android operating system is available on a phone that's as attractive on the outside as it is on the inside. If you can live without a hardware-based QWERTY keyboard, you'll love the myTouch 3G.