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Review: T-Mobile myTouch 3G

HTC's touchscreen Google Android smartphone brings better hardware and a more refined user experience over the G1.

As for battery life, the myTouch lasts far longer than the G1 did. The G1 struggled to get through one day of heavy use, sometimes conking out before 5 p.m. The myTouch 3G was easily able to see me through an entire work day, through a social evening, and still remain alive through the night. Most users will still want to charge the myTouch 3G every night, but should be confident that it won't fail before they hit the hay.

Other essential performance elements include solid signal strength and good volume benchmarks. These two play an important role in making sure you don't miss phone calls or other messages as they arrive. The myTouch 3G easily connects to T-Mobile's 3G network wherever it is, and will revert to EDGE when no 3G is available. It also has Wi-Fi if you're really looking to do some speedy browsing.

Android 1.5

The myTouch 3G runs the latest version of Android available to the masses, which is known as Android 1.5 "Cupcake." Cupcake was distributed to HTC G1 owners several months ago and brought with it a number of upgrades compared to Android 1.0 and 1.1. The myTouch puts Android 1.5 to good use, though there are still some limitations that need to be addressed.

As with the G1, a Gmail account is required for the myTouch 3G to work properly. Users can't get past the initial set-up pages until they sign into or create a Google account. Once users sign in, the myTouch 3G pulls down and sets up Gmail and Gmail Contacts on the device. All end-user data syncing is done via the wireless network. (During initial set-up, I'd recommend you connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. This may help speed up the process.)

Android features customizable home screens where users can place applications or links for just about anything. There is a built-in Google search bar for fast(er) access to searches. The search bar offers Google's voice search, which lets users speak their queries rather than typing them. Since there is no physical keyboard on the myTouch 3G, I found this to be helpful.

The main menu can be accessed via a software tab at the bottom of the home screen. Just swipe upwards to open it. Everything on the main menu is listed in alphabetical order. The physical menu key on the front of the myTouch opens a secondary menu that is specific to whatever screen or application is being used.

The basic usability of Android 1.5 compared to 1.0 isn't all that different, so anyone upgrading from a G1 will notice minimal changes with the basic operating system.

My one serious complaint about the myTouch 3G hardware is that it has only a miniUSB port for connecting the device to accessories. While this isn't a problem for connecting to a laptop, if you want to use any other sort of accessory (such as stereo headphones) you're going to have to use an adapter. Granted, HTC supplies such an adapter in the box, but it's a hassle to use, and I'd prefer to have a 3.5-mm headset jack or other jacks/ports to use. That limitation aside -- and the lack of a real, physical QWERTY keyboard -- the myTouch 3G is a very usable phone.

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