A Perspective of the MyTouch

It’s been 5 months since I had purchased the T-Mobile MyTouch (HTC Magic) to upgrade my RIM 8320. And I figured 5 months is more than enough time to give my perspective on the phone. First, this is a low end phone compared to what’s coming out. While the Nexus One has had more than its share of problems, it puts light that 528Mhz found on the MyTouch is actually on the low side.

So, with that in consideration, I do write this review with little regret. No matter what you would buy, or when you buy it, there would always be something better in 6 months. So, I would want to focus on two things. One would be the phone which is my first touch screen phone, and another is the OS which is one of the newest players in the game.

The touch screen phone is where most of the phone theoretically is the majority of the phone. I have seen exceptions to the rule, but in my case – it is about 90% of the phone’s front side real estate. The touch is relatively good, but found when I demand too much of it, it seems to be a little unresponsive, especially when touching something on the outer edge. In addition the wifi could be better. I would have wifi on, but would literally jump into the settings only to see it go on. It would seem as if it is teasing me.

The screen is good and bright, even at a minimal setting. At minimal, it’s just bright enough to see, but not blind you, which is good since with an app, it could be your bedside clock. As with most smart phones, expect only a day of relative use. My recommendation for buying any smart phone is try to get a charging cradle that would charge a battery in addition to the phone.

You would definitely not buy this phone, or the OS for its media player features. The media player is usually functional if only spartan. However, my previous phone was a Blackberry, so I’m OK with that. However, the player would sometimes stop for no reason. This only pisses me off, especially if the phone is in a inconvenient place. Thankfully I use a dedicated MP3 player most of the time. This is an OS thing, and pretty much like that on all Vanilla flavored Android 1.6.

The phone does have a very nice security feature, and with a widget – you can turn it on and off without it being more of an annoyance. Instead of entering a PIN, or a password, you draw a pattern on the phone – much like trying to play connect the dots. When I am not home, and the phone is not being used as a player, I turn the pattern lock on – in case someone feels they should have my phone more so than I do.

One nice thing is that I have Google Maps, and Google Voice right in the phone. The maps is great for getting transit directions, even though the A-GPS could be better. The Google Voice spoofs my cell phone number showing my Google Voice number. There are also SIP clients, and the best one seems to be SIP Droid which doesn’t say much for the other clients. A few are even bloated, and so fat as for the programming goes, and does nothing realistic in return.

Using the dialer is straight forward, and simple which is what a dialer should be. You select the icon, as you type numbers in, it would show above the first row. It has an older fashion look with numbers, and respective letters to them. This is a good thing since people promote themselves with easier to remember words like 1-800-FLOWERS. Simply put, you don’t need to be fancy here. There are tabs for dialer, Call Log, Contacts, and Favorites. Favorites is probably really helpful if you want to narrow your list down to just a small portion of your hundred contacts.

You can create folders to organize your phone better which is really nice since there are only 3 panes. If you’re a big game person, you can create a folder called games and stuff everything there instead of taking up one or more of your panes. You can also short cut programs, settings, or even contacts right to the phone’s screen. In the case of contacts, you would see their picture as the icon.

One thing that might be a disadvantage to some is the tight and overbearing integration with Google. If you think Google is evil, you do NOT want this phone. The first thing you would need to do is sign in, or create your own personal Google Account. It syncs with your Google Contacts which are in your Google Mail, and Google Voice locations. You can also manage at http://google.com/contacts/ Syncing is amazingly fast, and it usually paired with the phone and site within a moment. You could sit at your PC, and do all kinds of changes, and have it ready for your phone when you leave.

There is a home button which would take you to the last pane you were on in the home, and then the home (center pane). Menu brings up options based on the program you are using. Back button takes you to the previous screen (ideally), and search well allows you to search the phone and the web. In some cases, there is search feature just for the app such as Android Market. There is a green send/answer button as well as an end/power button. There is also a volume rocker which is nicer and better designed than on the RIM. However two things missing is a flash for the camera, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, they provide an adapter, but the adapter stinks as the microphone is very close to the phone as opposed to close to the face. The second generation of this phone actually has a 3.5mm jack which means you could use a better hands free set on that one. I know every time I used it, the other side thought I was using a speaker phone.

There are a couple of gripes I have. There is no Pause, nor Wait code for using automated systems. This is definitely something I miss on the Blackberry. In addition, there is no real call manager. The best I can do is send contacts in my phone book to voicemail, however unknown callers get more privilege reaching me then. The way to work with that is to use Google Voice, and make sure everyone has the Google Voice number, but this means you need separate lines for each rule. The most cost effective way for that is Magic Jack and setting the number to forward. This is more trouble than worth for most people.

The virtual keyboard is good most of the time. I still find it very hard to work with in portrait mode which makes me question why no ½ QWERTY keyboard. There is an app called Better Keyboard that does provide a ½ QWERTY keyboard, but you always had to swipe away the QWERTY which is not worth it being a paid app. In landscape mode, it is much better, but I still miss the physical keyboard. I am sure I would get used to it though.

The calendar is good, but needs a bit of improvement to compete with RIM’s. There is a widget that will show you things coming up for tomorrow, but not really for today. For that, you would tap on the widget to get the calendar. However, for anything in the next month – forget it. You can only get a month view of the month you’re in. So, on January 31, and you want to see what’s coming in February 3 – you have to use the web version.

The web browser is good, and capable considering it’s a mobile phone. My only disappointment is that the browser itself isn’t HTML 5. There is a dedicated GMail client along with a dedicated 5 account email client. Why GMail couldn’t handle regular email accounts on the phone’s end is beyond me.

As with all touch screens (hint Apple), it is a smudge magnet. Your fingers have oils on them as with the rest of your body. This is how your body doesn’t dry up from the outside. It also sweats so us warm blooded creatures don’t over heat and boil from the inside. In turn you would see smudging on the screen. This is a consequence of a touch screen phone (any of them). Expect to get a cloth you would use for the PC, or the pouch to regularly wipe it down. I tend to do mine once or twice a day.

All in all, I am satisfied with this phone, and even had some compliments on how nice it was. Therefore, it must be stylish. It boots nice and quickly eve

n when the battery is pulled. You don’t have to remove the battery to access the memory card, and the cover is easy to come off, sometimes too easy in my opinion. It’s not the top – even when I bought it, but it is a good phone.

So, should you buy it? If you’re a T-Mobile customer, and want a new phone – than it is worth looking at. Just be prepared to have a Google Account, and consider getting a Google Voice account as well. Also, as with all smart phones, expect a data plan which would set you back between $25 and $30. Expect (at least in Pittsburgh: T-Mobile) an average of 512k/300k 3G connection which is something you would not find on 2G’s best day. You definitely would want the 2nd generation, even if they try to shove gen 1 off on you at a discount. you’ll kick yourself later.

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