By Adam Z. Lein | August 4, 2011 2:34 PM
Today we have the latest update to T-Mobile’s myTouch line of Android smartphones. The HTC myTouch 4G Slide is naturally the upgrade to the older myTouch 3G Slide and there are a lot of new features that make it a worthy upgrade. The myTouch line has always had kind of a unique design aesthetic. It looks like it’s mainly targeted towards the lower-end market, but some of the high end features may suggest otherwise. Read on for our full review of the T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide!
Here’s the unboxing for the HTC myTouch 4G Slide. The device includes the normal AC adapter and Micro USB cable but that’s about it! No wired headphones are included, which is strange. You do get an 8GB microSD card pre-installed, though. The box is very similar to most phones released on T-Mobile since the HTC HD2. This one has some cool shiny camera setting icons surrounding the phone’s cut-out spot on the inside as well as a bright green Android robot.
In terms of hardware you’ve got a nice dual core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3.7 inch WVGA Super LCD display with a four row slide out QWERTY keyboard, 768MB RAM, an 8GB microSD storage card preinstalled, and support for T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ 21MB/s network. You’ve also got HTC’s Sense 3.0 on top of Android 2.3.4. The 8 megapixel rear camera comes with AF, dual LED flash, ClearShot HDR, and 1080p video recording. I was a bit annoyed that by default the video recorder is set to 800×600 resolution. So when I was recording all these videos over the weekend, I noticed later on that they were not so great. You’ve also got a 0.3 megapixel front facing camera, GPS, WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, and a 1520 mAh battery.
The device’s dimensions are 4.80 x 2.60 x 0.54 (122 x 66 x 14 mm) and it weighs about 6.50 oz (184 g). In terms of build quality, it’s about average for HTC. It feels solid enough, and certainly more well-built than most of the cheap-feeling thin-plastic Samsung devices, but not even close to the extremely well-built Nokia devices like the N8. For even more specs, check out PDAdb.net.
On the left side of the device we have the volume rocker and microUSB port.
On the right side of the device we have the dedicated camera button. Holding this down will actually start the camera right away even if the device is in suspend mode. This feature seems to have been borrowed form Windows Phone 7′s pocket to picture feature.
On the top we have the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button.
On the bottom is the microphone hole along with a lanyard loop and a small slot for removing the battery cover.
On the back you see the HTC logo on an oddly off-white khaki colored plastic back battery cover (the myTouch 4G Slide is also available in black). The speaker vent is on the lower part, while the 8 megapixel camera lens and dual LED flash is towards the top of the device. You’ll notice the camera lens protrudes pretty significantly, but it’s got a nice metal rim and a pleasantly wide f2.2 aperture.
Underneath the battery cover is the 1520 mAh battery, a removable 8GB microSD card, and the SIM card slot. The plastic beneath the battery cover is a different shade of white than the battery cover and there’s a cool green coloring to the metal rim around the camera lens.
The keyboard on the myTouch 4G Slide is very well done, but not quite as good as the old HTC Touch Pro2. You’ve only got four rows of keys, they’re smaller, and flatter.
This video goes over some of the interesting added customizations and software bundles that we’ll find in the myTouch 4G Slide. It features a customized version of HTC Sense 3.0 which includes a different look and some lost functionality. For example, there are only five home screens that you can swipe between, and even though there is a zoomed-out view, you can’t edit the order in which the home screens appear or are arranged.
The myTouch 4G comes with a few nice bundled apps. You get Adobe Reader, Bejeweled 2, the HTC Flashlight, a Friend Stream app that nicely aggregates social updates from Facebook and Twitter, DoubleTwist sync for syncing media, and T-Mobile Highlight for some news updates and things you might want to buy. The KidZone app is a nice way to disable most of your phone’s functions and just leave access to T-Mobile TV, Bejewelled, YouTube, and the web browser. That way you can hand the phone to a child to play with and they won’t be able to mess it up or get into too much trouble. Media Room is a cool app that gives you shortcuts to other media related aspects of the phone, but also allows you to share content to other DLNA compatible devices. It’s called “Screen Share” but it also streams music and doesn’t actually share your screen. T-Mobile also added their “My Account” and “My Device” apps which are generally useful. Netflix is included for you streaming movie needs, and Polaris Office is there to help you view Office documents you may receive. The device also comes with the T-Mobile TV app, T-Mobile Mall, Qik Video Chat, Telenav GPS, a cool setup utility, Wi-Fi Calling, Wi-Fi Hotspot, and YouTube.
I was interested in the Genius button on the myTouch 4G since that offers a nice voice recognition interface. A few things about it were a bit annoying, though. Every time I pressed the button (after turning the phone on), it would have to take a few seconds in order to voice-activate the names in my contact list. In other words, I would often have to wait a pretty long time before getting to the listening mode. Then on numerous occasions when trying to recognize a command, it would come back with an error about not being able to reach the network even though I had quite a good 4G data connection. So I wouldn’t say it was terribly reliable. When functional, the Genius button accepts commands for texting, calling, searching the web, and finding local businesses. Yes, the Google search widget’s microphone button brings up a completely different voice recognition interface with very similar functions so that’s not terribly consistent or user-friendly.
The myTouch 4G Slide takes pictures at 8 megapixel resolution and includes a dual LED flash along with an f2.2 aperture. It’s billed as the most advanced camera on a phone and while it’s not the highest resolution, it certainly has some excellent features.
Here’s a look at a normal automatic photo as well as a high dynamic range photo taken by the myTouch 4G Slide. In order to get an HDR image you’ll have to hold the camera still for a longer length of time than you would with a normal photo. The HDR gives you much more detail in the shadows and highlights of the image. Dark areas are lighter and light areas are darker. You usually get more of a balanced image, but often you’ll also find it looking a bit unrealistic.
The sweep shot mode is very cool. You start my framing one section and pressing the shutter mode. Then you slowly move or rotate the camera while the software adds imagery and seamlessly merges it with the original position as you move. This might be the coolest feature of the myTouch 4G Slide. Of course, you’ll have to be careful with moving subjects in your panoramic photos. I’ve taken a few where people’s bodies have been cut off in between the seams. I’ve also gotten parts of a photo to motion blur a bit too much in low light or by moving the sweep a little too quickly.
Here’s a composite of a 100% cropping of a photo taken with the myTouch 4G Slide as well as the Nokia N8. At 12MP, the N8 is a bit higher resolution, but you’ll also notice some exposure quality differences. The myTouch 4G Slides has higher contrast, more pronounced sharpening, some odd color tinting, and certainly more noise.
Here’s a look at the macro photo capabilities of the myTouch 4G Slide along with the low-light flash capabilities. You can see that while the wide aperture gives macro photos a narrow depth of field, it’s quite sharp where the focus lies. The low light flash photo was difficult to capture for a couple reasons. First off there is no auto-focus illuminator, so composing and attempting to focus the shot was basically trial and error since the screen is completely black. Secondly, most of the time when night comes around the device’s battery was too low for it to allow the flash to even work. I was very frustrated with that. When I did get the flash to work (by keeping it on the charger all day), the photos come out pretty well lit with a nicely balanced exposure.
The myTouch 4G Slide records video at the very high resolution 1080p. Above is a sample video recording. Be sure to switch its resolution to 1080 HD to get the full effect.
The myTouch 4G Slide and its 1.2GHz dual core processor is quite smooth and responsive at most times. Occasionally, some third party applications can cause it to lag a bit, but overall it’s quite good. It’s been fast and stable, and you’ll see our benchmark results below. In terms of web browsing speed, I was happy to see the browser’s HTML5 rendering speed in Microsoft’s Fish IE test was a very high 40-48 frames per second. Large websites downloaded quite quickly over the 21Mbps 4G HSPA+ network as well.
Smartbench 2011: Productivity 1862, Games 1660
LinPack Multi-thread test: 57.487 MFLOP, 2.93 Seconds, Norm Res 3.24
I was not impressed with the myTouch 4G Slide’s battery life. The 1520 mAh sounds like a pretty good size, but it seems the dual core 1.2GHz processor, 4G HSPA+ internet access, and high-resolution camera need a lot of juice. The only time that I could get home from work after unplugging from a full charge at around 9AM was when I kept the device completely powered off or plugged into a charger for half the day. Even without using it for anything and just leaving it in standby mode, the device would be crying for a recharge by 6PM. Couple the fact that the camera’s flash stops working once the battery gets a bit too low and the usefulness of the camera’s best feature becomes severely limited.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
You can buy the HTC myTouch 4G Slide from T-Mobile for $199 with a two year contract and it’s available in black or khaki.
+ Great 8 megapixel camera with quality software imaging enhancements
+ Slide out keyboard feels great
+ HSPA+ 4G broadband support
+ Sense 3.0 and Android 2.3.4
+ 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor
+ 1080p HD video recording
- Battery life is mediocre
- Keyboard has only four rows and no tilting screen.
- Some bugs with the voicemail notifications and Genius software
- Camera flash doesn’t work if the battery is low
There’s a lot to like about the myTouch 4G Slide. The keyboard is very good, though not as good as the HTC Arrive and other HTC slider phones of the past. The camera is also very good, though not as good as the superior optics and mechanical shutter of the Nokia N8. In terms of “most advanced” camera phone, the myTouch 4G Slide has some great software enhancements that put it above the rest. The sweep shot, burst shot, and high dynamic range modes are very useful and great additions to the smartphone’s photography features. Unfortunately, all of these advanced features are overshadowed by the myTouch 4G Slide’s frustrating battery life. If you’re looking forward to this device, plan on getting a couple extra batteries to swap out during the day.
We give the HTC myTouch 4G Slide a 3/5.