T-Mobile and HTC were focused on giving the user a very tactile experience with this phone, with 52 physical buttons including the clickable optical trackpad. The last phone I reviewed had a grand total of....three - power/lock, volume up, and volume down. Granted, that 52 figure includes the physical keyboard, but there’s still hardware buttons for most main functions. I really don’t understand optical trackpads on slates (which is why, for the most part, they no longer exist), and I didn’t get it when I had the G2 either. But after using the MT4GS, I can see how they can be useful on landscape sliders, in the sense of being able to navigate through the entire OS with just a thumb. If you are one of the seven people to ever use a UMPC, you know what I’m talking about. Having mouse-like functionality isn’t necessary with a touchscreen, but it’s nice to have when you’re hovering over the keyboard in landscape mode. 

Speaking of which, the backlit four-row keyboard is excellent. The single most appealing feature from the G2 is back mostly unchanged, and that’s a very good thing. Seriously, HTC does the best hardware keyboards in the business, and it’s been that way for a very long time. I’m in love. I waxed poetic about HTC hardware keyboards in my G2 preview last year, and my sentiments are exactly the same.

The only real complaint you could throw the way of the keyboard is that it’s only a four row board, not five row like the Touch Pro 2 (which, in my mind at least, is the all-time benchmark in landscape smartphone keyboards). And while this is true, I understand why the decision to dump the dedicated number keys was made. Now while this means that the easiest way to enter a phone number is to go through the virtual dialer, I’ll take the more compact packaging over that fifth row basically any day. 

The only other minor niggle I had with the keyboard is that it takes a lot for the backlight to be triggered. In fact, until I got the Slide into a completely dark room, I didn’t realize it actually had backlit keys. While the G2 backlit keys would be triggered by most low and dim lighting situations, the MT4GS needs to actually be in complete darkness before the keyboard light goes on. The easiest way around this is to trick the phone into backlighting the keys by putting your finger over the light sensor - if the light is dim enough, the backlight will stay on even after moving your finger. It’s not a big deal, just a minor annoyance I came across. 

  

The Slide also has the Sense 3.0 keyboard and Swype preinstalled. The awesome thing here is that HTC totally lifted everything about Swype and put it into their new “Trace” feature in the Sense keyboard, except now you get to choose your own path colour. The Swype keyboard is still available as an option, but they can’t be thrilled by HTC’s move here. I’m a bit sad to say that I like the Sense keyboard better than Swype, but hey, who cares, this phone has the best hardware keyboard on the market. I refuse to use either soft keyboard out of sheer principle. It’s like getting a Ferrari and driving it with the transmission in automatic mode. Completely eliminates the point. If I wanted to use a virtual keyboard, I’d just get a Sensation. 

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide - Hardware: Industrial Design T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide - Performance and Battery Life
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  • Impulses - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    " Anand is going to do a deep dive into the dual-core Snapdragon microarchitecture in our forthcoming EVO 3D review. "

    Been hoping it'll come out already for a while! Any ETA? Also, can you share some specifics about how the battery tests are run? I'm not doubting the results, I'd just like to do my own testing here, my EVO 3D (which I'm still unsure if I'll keep) doesn't seem to be in the same league as the Sensation despite nearly phenyl identical internals.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Friday, August 12, 2011 - link

    Great review btw, as always from AT... You guys go into way more detail than anyone else out there, it's really appreciated. I think the software side could use even more depth tho, ultimately people will customize phones and install their own apps, launchers etc but if you're gonna harp on manufacturer skins for what they get wrong, you should also highlight some of the value that some of them do add, beyond the obvious (lockscreen, camera interface, etc.).

    Take the print feature for instance, I dunno if the MT4G has it but the Sensation and EVO 3D sure do, and it's really really handy... True Wifi printing that works without a computer or a cloud service and seems to work even with older printers (at least it worked with my 5+ year old HP AIO).

    Or how about the ringer settings for pocket mode, speaker on flip, and quiet on pickup? How about the power saver mode? Sense's FB contact integration tho done in a less-than-elegant manner (adds a tag to your Gmail contact notes) at a technical level still works better at a user level than FB's own app imo. The calendar is a vast improvement over past versions of Sense, tho I guess that's not saying much since they had really butchered it.

    My biggest beef with Sense, besides the launcher (easily remedied) continues to be the browser. Generally it works pretty well, I like the big previews of open windows and bookmarks, the couple extra settings HTC tucks in, and the full screen mode... But why do they continue to limit you to four open tabs/windows at a time?! It's maddening, to an extent it keeps me from leaving stuff I intend to read/do open in the browser forever, but AFAIK everyone else is doing 8 no? 16 on tablets?
    Reply
  • FrederickL - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link



    "But why do they continue to limit you to four open tabs/windows at a time?! "

    I cannot of course say for certain but might it not be that the average smartphone even high-end still has a relatively limited amount of RAM (max currently AFAIK is 1Gb) and they are concerned about the browser crashing?
    Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Crashing or getting cached out of memory? I rarely see my stock browser crash on Gingerbread, I don't think it happens more than once a month... I used to see it get closed and tossed out of memory a lot on my EVO 4G whenever I switched to other apps (games, gmail oddly enough, or a combination of various apps would often do the trick). On the EVO 3D it seems to rarely happen thanks to the extra memory, which is really nice.

    I haven't taken notice of how much memory each tab may consume while open, but the browser as a whole usually hovers at around 100MB; higher than most other daily use apps but low enough that it still leaves 100-200MB free (while also having another dozen apps loaded I'm memory, totaling about 150MB). It seems the OS itself and Sense + the stock widgets consumes a beefy 400MB...

    I've avoided customizing it too much while I make up my mind about it, freezing the Sense launcher and using ADW with some lighter widgets would probably free up a decent chunk of that 400 MB.
    Reply
  • FrederickL - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link



    Yep, I suspect you are right as far as the amount of RAM being used by Sense in Gingerbread is concerned (although I have not had any big issues with my updated Desire Z). Certainly the less than stellar offering from HTC to its original Desire customers of a crippled Gingerbread/Sense upgrade, "install at your own risk", would seem to confirm my suspicions that the producers are (all of them) currently putting the absolute minimum RAM in most of their phones that they think that they can get away with at the time. Until there is a bit more customer pressure over the issue I do not see the tactic changing any time soon. The current attitude of the producers appears to be "if you want more than one upgrade, buy another phone". Given that the price of a modern high end smartphone lies in the range 650 - 800 dollars (unlocked), I find that attitude pretty contemptible. The only reason they can get away with it IMHO is that the US market is the leading market world wide and most in the US buy on a "plan" from the carriers. If a significant proportion of the customers in the US bought unlocked then the producers would probably be experiencing a much more negative attitude from their customers than they currently get.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    Problem is there is no incentive to buy unlocked, plans cost the same on all carriers regardless of whether you got a subsidized phone or not. T-mobile's the only exception to that and a) the discount is only like $10 b) it looks like they'll soon be part of AT&T.

    Nevermind that buying unlocked isn't even an option for customers withe two other major carriers (Version and Sprint), since they use CDMA.
    Reply
  • FrederickL - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link



    Indeed, I see your point. That then raises the question of what is going on here with regard to prising. How is it, that there is no "bonus" in regard to plan costs if you buy unlocked? There is something very wrong and illogical with a "market" where that could possibly be the case. It is very strange that a deal that involves signing up for a "plan" which in *addition* provides you with a phone should (apparently) cost you the same as if you bought unlocked and *then* bought your plan. A market where such a phenomenon is possible ought to be the subject of *very* close investigation by the federal competition authorities. There is something that smells here and it is not pleasant.
    Reply
  • andrewbuchanan - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Yeah. I am pretty upset with the attitude that one or two upgrades is all you get. But I'm also upset that htc cuts corners.

    I had an htc dream with android 1.5, it never got any upgrades. Even though the dream got 1.6 on other carriers... The phone had very little internal flash which didn't leave much room for upgrades.

    I have an htc desire, which is a nice phone, but they cheaped out on flash so it doesn't have room for htc's version of android 2.3 (the desire z, desire hd, got it because they came out slightly later and have more internal flash).

    Anyways, if I had known they would stop supporting the phones after 6 months, I wouldn't have bought them. Carriers push 3 year contracts, but then the phones are only supported for 6 months. I'm sure a motivated individual could sue. And hopefully somebody does.

    I'm not much of an apple lover, but they support their stuff for at least 3 years. And the microsoft ones seem to be as well.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link

    It'd be interesting to get those kinda memory usage stats in reviews, it'd probably explain some of the performance drags that manufacturer customizations often incur. Reply
  • FrederickL - Saturday, August 13, 2011 - link



    Agreed, that would be most useful information.
    Reply

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