The T-Mobile G2 Touch can handle theoretical throughput speeds of up to 14.4 megabits per second. The G2 runs a newer version of Google Android (2.2, or Froyo), features a smart design with a pop-out physical QWERTY keyboard, has an 800MHz Snapdragon processor, and sports a larger and better-looking touchscreen. The phone has a lot going for it. A few key shortcomings can't be ignored, however.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: Android in the Raw
HTC stuck with the raw Android operating system for the T-Mobile G2 Touch, which makes the phone feel less cluttered. For some users, such as hard-core social networkers, specialized "overlay" software (see Motorola Blur, for instance) can enhance a phone's utility. But the G2 is more of a general-purpose smartphone, so we believe that HTC and T-Mobile did well to let the device run on base Android 2.2.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: The Pop-Out Keyboard
When you push gently with your thumb on the top part of the left edge of the phone, the top half of the phone lifts up on three hinges and then sets back down in a new position that exposes the keyboard. After you rotate the T-Mobile G2 Touch phone into landscape orientation, the keyboard is just below the touchscreen, and you can text and email comfortably. We were a bit concerned about how far the two halves of the phone extend apart, but the hard plastic hinges connecting the two have very little give and seem generally sturdy. If you were to drop the phone on the ground, we doubt those hinges would be the first thing to break from the shock.
When you pop out the T-Mobile G2 Touch's physical keyboard, the screen automatically enters landscape mode. Smartphone keyboards are a subjective thing: One may work great for someone else but be a nightmare for you, so it's a good idea to get a feel for a keyboard before you buy. Having said that, there's nothing extravagant or complex about the G2's keyboard. The keys (square, with rounded corners) seem well spaced (about 1.2mm apart), and their tops feel slightly beveled for easy locating. You also get three large shortcut keys, which you can program to go directly to messaging or navigation apps.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: On-Screen Keyboard
When you're text messaging or using maps, you might want to keep the physical keyboard hidden, at which time you'll have to rely on the on-screen keyboard. We found it very difficult to type accurately with the phone in portrait mode (which squeezes the keyboard into the narrow width of the screen), and not much easier with the phone in landscape mode. Thankfully you can use the Swype functionality to help in typing, dragging your finger from letter to letter without breaking contact with the screen. You can also touch the microphone icon and dictate your text.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: Design and Aesthetics
The portion of the T-Mobile G2 Touch at right pops out to reveal the physical keyboard.A nice-looking brushed-metal frame covers most of the top part of the phone. The rest of the case has the hard, matte-black plastic seen on many HTC phones. The phone weighs 135g and feels substantial, but not too heavy, in the hand. It measures 56x112x14mm. On top are a power button and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
The right edge features a very helpful, dedicated button for operating the camera. Pushing and holding the button puts the phone in camera mode from any other mode. On the left edge of the T-Mobile G2 Touch, you'll find the volume rocker and a standard mini-USB port. On the back are the 5-megapixel camera lens (with flash) and a small grille covering the speaker. You'll find no second camera on the front of the phone for videoconferencing, however.
Just below the touchscreen are four hardware buttons for navigation: Home (brings you back to the Android home screen), Menu (contextual, for operating apps), Back (returns you to the previous screen), and Search (for searching the web, as well as for digging through any content stored on the phone). The black, rounded-square button at the bottom of the phone's front acts similar to a touchpad on a laptop PC: You can slide your finger across it in any direction to move through screens or content, and when you have navigated to a link, icon, or button you want to use, you just press down.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: The Processor
The 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor in the T-Mobile G2 Touch isn’t as muscular as the 1GHz processors in many other HTC phones. While activities such as moving through content-heavy Web pages, launching apps, and multitasking weren’t as lightning-fast as we’ve seen on some 1GHz phones, they seemed snappy enough to please all but the fussiest mobile superuser.
Video playback is usually a good barometer of processor speed, too. Videos stored on the T-Mobile G2 Touch played back smoothly, without hiccups. Even high-definition video streamed from YouTube (using the preinstalled app) looked reasonably good on the G2's 3.7-inch WVGA screen with a download speed above 2 megabits per second.
Although the processor in the T-Mobile G2 Touch isn't exactly a selling point, we wouldn’t call it a negative, either.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: Basic Apps Set
You'll find a basic set of apps preloaded on the T-Mobile G2 Touch, many of which are Google offerings. Among them are Google Voice, Google Maps with Places and Navigation, Google Goggles, and Google Earth. You'll also find the Facebook and YouTube apps, along with Quick Office, which lets you create or view Word and Excel docs, as well as view PowerPoint presentations and PDFs.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: Voice Quality Disappoints
We were disappointed with the quality of the voice calls we placed with the T-Mobile G2 Touch (the tests took place in the US). The results were surprising, because in our recent tests of HTC's new Windows Phone 7 handset, the Surround, we heard excellent audio from the speaker, as well as full-bodied vocal quality and impressive noise cancellation from the microphone. With the G2, we could hear the caller on the other end clearly enough, but we would have liked a bit more volume from the speaker when making calls outside. The T-Mobile G2 Touch also doesn't cancel out background noise nearly as well as the Surround does. The person we called said that she could clearly hear the noise and traffic around my voice when I called her from the sidewalk along a residential street.
It's hard to say whether these problems resulted from the T-Mobile G2 Touch itself or the T-Mobile US voice network it depends on. I could get no voice or data service from within my apartment in the middle of San Francisco; and even when I went outside to place calls, the signal seemed weak and I heard a lot of dropouts. My experience making and receiving calls in San Francisco during my limited time with the phone was enough to make me hesitant to buy one without first testing the network in the area we live.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: Camera Performance Underwhelms
Photo taken with a T-Mobile G2Similarly mystifying was the performance of the G2's 5-megapixel camera relative to the performance of the HTC Surround's camera (which is the same size). The stills and video that the Surround created had a sharpness and balance that put them a cut above the stills and video I've taken with my EVO 4G. The stills and video I shot with the G2 were not impressive. With the camera in auto mode, the still shots I took looked washed out, dark, and a bit blurry. The G2's video was not as clear and fluid as that of the HTC Surround, either: The G2's video was okay - not terrible, but nothing approaching the clarity of high-definition video.
T-Mobile G2 Touch: Doubts About Battery Life
T-Mobile says the G2's battery will power 6.5 hours of continuous talk time, and up to 17.5 days of standby time. At the completion of my tests, the battery had gone without a charge for 12 hours, and it had 67 percent of its charge left. According to the OS, only about 37 percent of that battery usage was from running the OS, running apps, and powering the screen. The rest of the battery capacity went toward the phone's idle or cell standby modes. If the phone consumed that much juice for idle and standby in 12 hours, could the battery really last for 17.5 days in standby mode? Since I couldn't run formal tests, I can't say for sure, but I have my doubts.
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