T-Mobile's MyTouch 3G with Google is only an incremental step up from last year's G1 with Google. The hardware is sleek and comfortable in the hand, but the new ActiveSync support was a colossal disappointment in eWEEK Labs' tests, and, overall, the MyTouch 3G--available for T-Mobile--lacks direction and purpose.
T-Mobile's MyTouch 3G with Google may be a fine consumer-grade
device, but, under the covers, it is at best an incremental step up
from last year's G1 with Google. And, those thinking that the addition
of ActiveSync on the software side provides a gateway to Android
adoption in the enterprise can put those thoughts aside--the new
ActiveSync support was a colossal disappointment in eWEEK Labs'
Indeed, on the software side of things, the MyTouch 3G displays a
profound lack of direction or innovation over the previous
model. Given the outstanding initial impression Android provided
last fall and the active development community surrounding the
operating system, I had expected to see more from this device.
The MyTouch with Google is available now for T-Mobile, with a
suggested retail price of $499. With discounts and a service
agreement, the price drops to $199.
The most significant difference between the G1 and the MyTouch 3G is
that the MyTouch is more touch-screen-oriented, eschewing a physical
slide or candy bar keyboard for an on-screen keyboard. Without keyboard
hardware, the MyTouch device itself is quite compact, measuring in at
2.2 by 4.5 inches, a svelte 0.6 inches thick and only 4.1 ounces.
There's no denying that the MyTouch 3G is an attractive piece of
hardware and quite comfortable in the hand. Available now in
black, merlot and white, the MyTouch 3G likely has the cleanest lines
of any smartphone I've seen to date. The edges and sides are largely
unadorned with buttons and slots, save for volume controls on the
top-left edge and a reset slot and a single Extended USB slot along the
bottom edge. (HTC's 11-pin proprietary connector is backward compatible
with Mini USB and used for charging, connecting to a PC or for a corded
For a look at the MyTouch 3G, click here.
Along the front, underneath the bright, 3.2-inch HVGA (480-by-320)
touch screen, the MyTouch 3G has a small collection of physical
buttons--Call, End/Power, Home, Menu, Back and Search--as well as a
handy and accurate track ball. If you can abide by the touch screen
keyboard, the device is highly usable and accessible.
The device supports the 1,700 and 2,100 frequency bands for 3G connectivity (850, 900, 1,800 and 1,900 for GSM).
The MyTouch hits most of the check boxes for hardware features: It
comes with an onboard 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi radio, Bluetooth support, a
3.2-megapixel still and video camera, and built-in GPS. For
storage, the device features 512MB of on-board Flash memory and a
MicroSD slot that supports cards up to 32GB.
Unfortunately, once you get past the hardware, there is little else
new to talk about when comparing the MyTouch 3G with a G1 running
Cupcake (Android 1.5). Indeed, the MyTouch 3G suffers from a lack of
identity, especially when you compare it with the just-announced
Motorola Cliq running Android (which will also come to the T-Mobile
network later this year).
While it remains to be seen whether the Cliq clicks with users, at
least it has a focus--coalescing and organizing social networks and
communications. In comparison, the MyTouch 3G comes across more like a
Swiss army knife--it provides a lot functionally, but little of it in
an optimal fashion.
Take e-mail as the prime example. The addition of Microsoft
ActiveSync support to the MyTouch 3G seemed like the final piece of the
enterprise-adoption puzzle. However, it quickly became apparent to me
that the feature was tacked on as an afterthought and is far less
useful than the ActiveSync support found in other devices I've tested
First of all, instead of featuring an e-mail client that aggregates
and integrates all types of e-mail into a single interface and store,
the MyTouch 3G requires the use of different e-mail programs to access
your accounts: The Gmail program accesses Gmail for the account used to
register the phone, the Email program accesses IMAP and POP3 accounts,
and the Work Email program syncs up with Exchange Server via ActiveSync.
The ActiveSync connection won't sync contacts with the device's
onboard Contacts application, but I could still search my personal
Outlook contact roster or the corporate contact list from within Work
Email. To find corporate contacts, I had to compose a message, hit Menu
and Add Recipient, select from the Contacts tab (for personal contacts
aggregated from all e-mail accounts) or Company, then search for a user
name and add it to the e-mail.
Once a corporate contact was found in this manner, I could add the
contact to my local store, but barely any information was transferred
to my device. The name and e-mail address made it to my Contacts
application, but the phone numbers, physical addresses and other
important information didn't. Want to dial someone in your corporate
directory? You had better know the number, because the MyTouch 3G won't
Exchange calendars also do not sync to the MyTouch 3G's integrated
calendar application. The only interaction I could achieve with my
Exchange calendar via the MyTouch 3G and ActiveSync was when I e-mailed
myself a proposed meeting time. But if I viewed the invitation in
Outlook, I could not accept or reject the invitation. I could
accept the meeting from the MyTouch 3G in Work Email, but the
appointment would not copy into the Outlook calendar. (Note: This
testing was done in conjunction with Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook
In my tests of the G1 with Google
and with Cupcake on a G1
I was dismayed with attachment handling--particularly when it came to
the POP3/IMAP Email client, which could not download or view documents.
With the MyTouch 3G and Work Email, the attachment experience has taken
one step forward and two steps back. On the plus side, I found that in
Work Email I could download attachments to the device's SD card. On the
minus side, the device doesn't come with a file browsing application,
so I could not get to the attachment until I downloaded a third-party
file explorer from the Android Market. (Thankfully, there are some free
Documents ToGo may instead be a more palatable alternative for
attachment handling in conjunction with Exchange ($30 in the Android
Market), but spending that money may be no better than putting lipstick
on a pig.
Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia can be reached at email@example.com.