And now we get to the good stuff. The MT4GS camera is one of the more highly touted smartphone shooters in recent memory, with features like zero-shutter lag, an f/2.2 aperture, built-in HDR, panorama, 5-shot bursts, 1080p video recording, and practically everything else including the kitchen and bathroom sinks included. We decided to do a bit of digging to figure out what really was going on, and naturally, took a ton of pictures in the process. 125 sample images later, I here’s what we learned. 

Let’s start with the sensor. A bit of monkeying around in the kernel boot logs gets us a couple of model numbers without too much trouble. The first is Sony’s IMX105PQ, a 1/3.2” 8.13MP CMOS sensor with backside illuminated 1.4µm pixels and support for 1080p30. This sensor initialized successfully; it’s the one in our test unit. The second model number we got was Samsung’s S5K3H2YX, a 1/3.2” 8MP sensor also with 1.4µm backside illumination, 1080p30 and 720p60 support. It’s a new sensor, launched at MWC earlier this year, and it’s the successor to the Sensation’s S5K3H1GX sensor. The OS looked for this sensor on boot, so it’s likely the second sensor option. One of my friends bought a Slide this week, and we’ve been led to believe that it has the Samsung sensor onboard. There are some differences in image quality between the two, but not too many. Think of it like the panel lottery that’s common in notebook displays, except with cameraphones. Either way, what you’re getting here is a high-end 8MP, backside illuminated sensor with full 1080p30 recording support, all features that are basically mandatory for any serious cameraphone these days. 

The Slide's optical system is F/2.2, which you can compare and contrast with the average smartphone’s F/2.8 (or worse) system. Aperture, in combination with shutter speed, controls how much light is exposed to the sensor. The lower the F/#, the larger the aperture and the higher the diameter of the lens opening. This gets you a greater depth of field and allows more light to reach the image sensor. In the case of the F/2.2, you’re looking at approximately 60% more light to the sensor when compared to F/2.8. Granted, the sensors we’re dealing with are tiny - the F/3.2” sensor size has a diagonal measurement of 5.68 millimeters and a crop factor of 7.61, but still, having a larger aperture does make a big difference. 

Now here’s where stuff gets weird. This Zero Shutter Lag business is given with basically no substantiation on T-Mobile’s website, but their press release gives a bit of detail on what it is. 

Zero Shutter lag: The myTouch 4G Slide is the only cameraphone on the market with Zero Shutter lag technology. When a customer opens the camera application, the camera begins recording in the background in a memory buffer. When you snap the camera button, rather than waiting for a mechanical shutter, it looks at the timestamp of when you pressed the button and pulls the photo from the cache. Thus, there is no delay between pressing that button and grabbing that perfect shot.

Uhhh....okay then. 

It turns out that this is a feature that Qualcomm showed off at Computex in June and was developed by Scalado, a Swedish company that specializes in mobile imaging solutions. Scalado’s Camera Framework is built into the MSM8x60 line of application processors, so it makes sense that this is one of the first implementations of the technology. More digging suggests that this entire thing is enabled by using Scalado’s SpeedTags JPEG optimization codec for 15 fps hi-res image decoding to push a stream of full-resolution JPEG images from the camera sensor to the processor and stored in a cyclic buffer. The stream of images is then displayed by the camera application as the on-screen image preview. SpeedTags data includes a timestamp on each image, so whenever the shutter mechanism is triggered, whether by the physical camera button or the onscreen button, it instantly pulls the image with that timestamp out of the stream. Until I figured out why, I was a bit disappointed in the relatively low framerate of the preview image, but it’s actually a rather impressive bit of technology. 

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide - Display T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide - Camera Software
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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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