Before I actually get to the hinges, let me say that I’m a fan of HTC’s design and engineering team. They put out some of the most consistently well engineered mobile devices, and I’m struggling to remember the last time I was disappointed by the design or build quality of an HTC phone. Whether Windows Mobile or Android, HTC has generally been on top as far as build quality and design goes. Just look at the EVO, the HD2, the Incredible, the Nexus One, or the new Desire HD to see what I mean.

Gallery: T-Mobile G2

For the most part, the G2 is pretty great and up to the same HTC standard. The top half of the device is mostly constructed of an anodized aluminum, with the bottom edge being done in soft touch plastic. The same soft touch plastic is the primary material for the bottom half of the device, surrounding the keyboard and battery cover. The battery cover itself is rendered in brushed aluminum, with HTC and G2 logos etched in. The entire package is very solid as expected, and the level of attention to detail paid here is so high that there’s even a spring-loaded release switch for the battery door. This is stuff that normal handset makers don’t even dream about (Samsung, I’m looking straight at you. I was certain that the Fascinate’s back cover was going to snap the one time I tried to take it off). HTC's usual attention to design makes that “Z” hinge all the more perplexing.

Note the usage of the word hinge. Most landscape QWERTY devices use a slider - pretty simple stuff, just a set of rails on the back side of the screen and a set of protruding runners above the keyboard. You might find a spring attached to make the motion of the screen smoother and ensure the screen stays open or closed, though this depends on how much space there is (for example, the super-thin Droid and Droid 2 forgo the spring-loaded mechanism). Now the G1 had a funky, curved hinge that basically acted as a slider, since the motion was in the same plane as the screen (there was also an arced track/runner system on the left side of the device.) This time around though, HTC has one upped themselves and made that hinge act perpendicularly to the plane of the screen.

What this means is that instead of a curved slider like the G1, the G2’s screen actually travels in a semicircular arc in the process of “sliding” up, hoisting itself above the body and then coming back down to reveal the keyboard. It’s a pretty neat trick, seeing the screen a centimeter above the body, until it hits you - the only thing holding the screen and the body together at that point are three plastic posts that are about 1 mm^2 in cross sectional area, and an exposed ribbon cable. Oh God.

What makes this even more concerning is that HTC is having some early run quality control issues with the G2. Among the laundry list of common issues is that on some devices, the hinges are loose. For example, if one were to hold the phone upside down, the screen would fall open. As luck would have it, my unit was one of them. The looseness of the springs and the overall lifelessness of the mechanism probably is contributing to my paranoia about the hinges, but I have played with another G2 that did have properly working hinges and while the hinge did feel more robust, it certainly did not feel sturdy. I’d be interested to see how much fatigue testing HTC did before finalizing this hinge design for production, since the “pop hinge” (their term, not mine) seems like a pretty large Achilles’ heel for an otherwise excellent design.

T-Mobile G2 - Introduction T-Mobile G2 - Keyboard, Display, Camera, and Video
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  • Trefugl - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    He says that the phones should have 4GB but his only has 2GB pretty plainly...
    More than a few G2’s (including mine) have shipped with 2GB onboard as opposed to the 4GB that it should be. It sounds like a pretty simple assembly line mixup on HTC’s part, but it’s still odd to see so many production issues with an HTC device, regardless of how new it is.

    I for one don't think that it is just "a pretty simple assembly line mixup"... that's one huge problem if their inventory system and QA guys are so messed up that they let allow more than a few batches of products to leave with half the NAND intended. People's heads would be rolling at every company that I've worked for if that happened! Maybe it would be understandable for Engineering units and prototypes, but not for full scale production.
  • phoenix79 - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    You seem to be missing something... They DO have a 4GB chip in them

    Any google search will pop this up
  • Trefugl - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the link. Interesting that it's not showing up in the OS.

    Would have been nice if you could have given some more detail the first time instead of essentially linking to Seemed like a blunt attack on the article without even giving some direction to those of us readers who don't feel like wasting 5+ mins googling for info on a product that we're not going to purchase (and I would have to do this for every product I see an article on as well...).
  • clarketelecom - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    So, are you just interested in Physics or are you taking the class for engineering, material science etc.? Just wondering because I have a big interest in Physics, mainly theoretical and I'd like to make that interest more practical - is that a good textbook?

  • designerfx - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    Anand, I hope you realize that the nexus one does not perform better than the epic on anything.

    I suggest you run a lagfix and then re-run the benchmarks as not a single phone in the lineup, including the new iphone, will not beat a single samsung phone at that point of the new galaxy lineup.

    Likewise, the FPS are capped at 55 (rougly rounded to 56 in benchmarks). It's a known issue, and is the only reason the nexus had a higher benchmark score.

    The graphics core on the samsung galaxy phones is actually faster than even the iphone, by a substantial margin.
  • designerfx - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    so either voodoo lagfix or ryanza, anything like that, and it's enough to put the samsung at the top of the charts.
  • zxc367 - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    I hope you realize that it's not Anand writing this, its Vivek Gowri. Check the author next time. ;)
  • designerfx - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    realized after the fact. why can't we edit our comments? zzz.
  • silverblue - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    It'd be nice to see all those devices in a head-to-head once they've all got Froyo installed. The Galaxy S phones are really being crippled by 2.1 in these tests.
  • TareX - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - link

    It's such a shame this phone has NO 2-WAY VIDEO CALLING in its future. My parents and friends live in a different continent and it would be nice to have the option to get in touch with them anytime, anywhere from a device that fits in my pocket.

    Also, I disagree with the author about the 3.7" sweetspot. I think the 4" size is the real sweetspot, with 4.3" being too big.

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