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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  • xype - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    Battery Life & Build Quality are pretty mich the two most important issues in a phone for me (For a smartphone, add Usability to the list). So it sounds a bit weird to say the phone has potential and whatnot, if you're afraid the hinges will break and the battery only lasts a bit more than half as long as that of its competition...
  • JimmiG - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    Despite a die shrink and an underclocked CPU, it's still down there with the N1.

    No matter what's causing it - inefficient hardware, poorly coded software protocol stack or lack of throttling and power-saving features, Google and OEMs need to fix this.

    If you think 3.5 - 4 hours of 3G browsing is bad, try doing it on a moving train with the brightness cranked up. You're looking at around 2 hours. Not everyone has access to a power outlet or USB port during the day to top off their phones.

    Also reviewers need to weigh in battery life more. It's hugely important.. How "smart" is a smartphone that switches itself off at 3pm?
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - link

    OTOH there are people like me who average 20 min or so of web browsing per day but do a decent amount of text messaging. Word on some forums is that the switching between 1X and EVDO on Verizon phones is a major source of battery drain, but they don't test that at all. Some battery tests are going to be more useful for some people than for others. Also, there are extended batteries for those who need them.
  • Shlong - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    I believe you omitted the Front Facing Camera for the Samsung Epic 4G on the chart.
  • rcocchiararo - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    Desire Z (and all the new SENSE htc android phones) has 768mb, not 512 like the G2
  • fhgh - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link
    Good-looking, not expensive
  • fhgh - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    Fashion Female attire
  • letsreboot - Friday, October 8, 2010 - link

    my feeling is that a backup copy of the original android image (or of another T-Mobile-blessed image) uses some of the 2GB left.
    G2 Rootkit in action, anyone?
  • AndroidFan - Saturday, October 9, 2010 - link

    Indeed the G2 battery life is crippled by the poor battery capacity. But the result still surprises me because I feel the battery life on my G2 is much better than N1.

    I do browsing a lot and my N1 sucks on the battery life, which I later figured out might be related to the OLED panel on N1, which burns more power on white and light colors. I don't know what web sites are included in your test, but most websites like to use white background. Check out the browser battery test here G2 having a LCD panel definitely is a plus for the browser battery life.

    Also, Vivek, did you have Flash enabled in G2? That may make G2 browser battery life worse than the other non-Flash supported phones. That's why I always disable it on my G2 :)
  • teekan - Saturday, October 9, 2010 - link

    I had a cable buy come over and say that their company don't even use anymore because how in accurate is. have you tried the same tests with

    I'm kinda in G2 Battery Denial because the G1 the number 1 flaw was the battery lasted before the 9' o clock news was over. after I got the extended battery pack for the g1 that came with a bigger back for it since the battery way so huge, i could actually use the G1 finally!

    too bad I ordered the battery and did it only 2 months ago. I"m really hoping for G2 Battery Solutions out there soon, because how could they mess up on this again? Hopefully there you can install programs on your SD card this time now too. that was another Flaw.

    thanks for your time.

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