myTouch 4G Slide review: Does this phone Slide into the top spot?

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When we first reviewed the myTouch 3G Slide we questioned whether the handset could even compete with the likes of the EVO 4G and the iPhone 4. Well, the handset may have rocked a solid keyboard but it was anything but a challenger to other flagship phones out there at the time.

Enter the myTouch 4G Slide, a handset that hits all the right notes with a powerful dual-core processor, a camera that’s touted as the most advanced offering on a phone, and the keyboard we’ve come to love. In this review, we’ll see if this handset kept the things we loved, dismissed the thing we didn’t, and added the right features that will give honor to the Slide family.

 

The Good
  • With a camera that offers features similar to a point and shoot, the myTouch 4G Slide's camera is a force to be reckoned with
  • The myTouch Slide 4G is significantly faster than the original.
  • Hot-swappable microSD card is always nice to see
The Bad
  • The keyboard no longer has the nice feedback when typing, which was something we loved about the original.
  • We like T-Mobile's customizations to Sense, and having version 3.0 is great but a few signature features are missing, like the customizable lock screen.
  • We get why T-Mobile has included the Genius button on the myTouch line but we question if they've ever used it. Give us a damn search key!

Hardware

The myTouch 4G Slide is an insane upgrade from the original, offering a great feature set and more power than those rocking the 3G Slide would know what to do with.

The overall look to the device resembles most any handset in the myTouch line, identifiable by the Android buttons and signature trackpad below the display. Speaking of which, the 4G Slide has received a nice bump in the screen department and now features a 3.7 inch Super LCD Display. We wish HTC would have just bumped the handset's screen size to 4 inches, which could have made way for a dedicated number row on the keyboard (wishful thinking, I know) but we're happy with the upgrade we have. While superior to your standard LCD screens, Super LCD displays suffer quite a bit in direct sunlight.

Above the display, you'll find the rather large ear piece, proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as the front-facing camera for video chat. Below that, you'll see the myTouch logo. At the bottom of the display, you'll find the Android buttons for home, menu, back, Genius button and an optical trackpad in the middle.

The left spine of the handset houses the microUSB port for charging with the volume rocker above it, and on the right, you'll only find the camera shutter button. Up top you'll find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power/lock button, and on the bottom of the device is where you'll find the microphone hole and a piece to put a lanyard.

The back of the device is where you'll find the showstopping camera, which is encompassed in a oblong metal strip. Below the powerful sensor is the dual-LED flash, and above you'll find a small microphone hole for capture sound when video recording.

Covered in a matte black finish, the myTouch 4G Slide feels nice in the hand and provides a good amount of grip. In the middle of its backside, there's HTC's logo and on the bottom left is the speaker grill. Removing the back of the device is simple and you can find a small tab to remove it on the bottom of the device.

Powered by a blazing fast 1.2 dual-core Snapdragon processor, the 4G Slide is a snappy device. If you're looking for the power of the HTC Sensation but need a keyboard, then you'll find the myTouch 4G Slide a great alternative.

 

Keyboard

One of the most appealing features of the myTouch 4G Slide is the fact that it has a full QWERTY keyboard hiding underneath the 3.7 inch display. The 4-row keyboard is painfully simple, has great spacing between keys and since we loved the 3D Slide's keyboard, we imagined we'd love the latest's keyboard just as much.

Not the case, unfortunately. The keys are simply too shallow for our liking and since we loved the travel on the keys from the original and you won't find it in its successor, it's not the experience we were hoping for on such a powerful device.  That said, the spacing between keys may be its saving grace for some but as someone who loves a physical keyboard, the myTouch 4G Slide's offering is a bit of a miss.

While some people believe that physical QWERTY keyboards are unneeded at this point, some people will always want one. I absolutely loved the keyboard on my T-Mobile G2 and have since switched to the G2X. As much as I love this phone, I miss my keyboard more and more everyday, which is something I wasn't expecting.

As with most things, you'll get used to the shallow keys after getting used to it but I do find myself editing texts and emails a lot when using it.

Design

While the design of the myTouch 4G Slide isn't ugly in anyway, it would be hard to call this a sexy device, especially when it will be sitting next the Sensation 4G. The rounded edges lend to a bar of soap looking device but we're rather used to the design of the 3G Slide, so this isn't necessarily a complaint.

With the exception of the keyboard, you can easily tell that HTC put the focus on the camera when designing the handset. In a handset that looks otherwise very simple, the camera on the back pulls you in to investigate further.

Overall, we like the design of the myTouch 4G Slide but we've seen sexier HTC handsets before.

Build Quality

HTC did choose to use a good amount of plastic when making this handset but we're not really questioning the build quality. With a solid in-hand feel, we imagine that the myTouch 4G Slide will take a beating.

While we still love the build quality of other HTC handsets like the Thunderbolt or HD7S, the 4G Slide still feels like a quality handset.

The heavy use of plastics in the myTouch 4G Slide isn't necessarily a bad thing, as we've seen worse from HTC before.

Software

The myTouch 4G Slide ships with HTC's Sense 3.0 but it's been customized by T-Mobile. Much like the myTouch 4G and original myTouch 3G Slide, T-Mobile's customizations are nice to have for the most part but some preinstalled applications are basically bloatware. That's hardly something new to Android phones, or HTC phones for that matter. Sense 3.0 is an awesome upgrade but the one thing I was really looking forward to was the lockscreen, which is sadly not customizable.

The EVO 3D and HTC Sensation have a customizable lock screen that will allow you to place four applications on it, allowing you to easily jump into them without fully unlocking the device. That's sadly missing from the myTouch 4G Slide but we can can live without it until custom ROMs come out for the handset. That's another story, though. The lock screen itself is still similar to other Sense 3.0 devices, in that you must pull a ring into the center of the screen but that's it.

T-Mobile's customizations don't shine through as much on this handset as other and that's likely to do with the updated version of Sense. Sense 3.0 introduces the carousal view when swiping through the home screens and adds a hefty amount of aesthetic tweaks to make the custom skin even more sexy than before. There are enough tweaks within the updated version of Sense to please fans of the skin but not too many to overwhelm a first time user.

One of our favorite new features within Sense 3.0 is the quick settings tab that's found in the notification bar. Simply slide down the bar and you'll have two tabs at the bottom: one for notifications and one for quick settings. This tab allows you to quickly turn on WiFi, Mobile Hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS, view the full settings menu, and see how much memory is being used on the handset.

While some people may find it unoffensive, the Genius button is more annoying to us than helpful. In our opinion, to omit the search button completely was a bad idea and we'd be just find with the genius button if it was only activated with a long press. Long pressing on the search button for Android phones will open up a Voice Search but sometimes you simple want to search. Forcing a voice search on the user is just annoying, even if it's meant to be more convenient. We could actually go into more detail but the Genius button isn't what makes this phone.

It's a rarity to see a handset ship with the latest version of Android, and the myTouch 4G Slide does indeed come with Android 2.3.4 out of the box. This means that you can use the video chat functionality through Google Talk immediately but T-Mobile may suggest that you use  its own preinstalled video chat app that's powered by Qik.

Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera

Web Browser

The web browser on the myTouch 4G Slide is that of any other HTC Sense handset, with virtually no T-Mobile customizations found within it. We've always liked what HTC has done with its browser, as it offers up some simple tweaks that we wish Google would implement into the stock Android browser.

While you can hit the menu button and view all open windows that way, HTC allows you to pinch on the screen of a page and you'll immediately see all windows that way. It's a nice touch, especially if it alleviates one more menu button press. Other features we like is the thumbnail view for bookmarks as well as the option to edit your bookmarks in bulk. This option will let you select more than one bookmark at a time so you don't have to delete each one manually, and you can even rearrange the order of your bookmarks in more than one way.

The handset plays 720p Flash videos without lag, giving you a fluid performance from beginning to end.

Multimedia

T-Mobile has packaged some nifty apps for consuming media on the myTouch 4G Slide and while the handset isn't necessarily being marketed as a media device, you still have a wealth of options. Whether or not you'll use these apps is a different story.

The handset offers up apps like T-Mobile TV, and Media Room. Media Room brings most media apps into one place, and gives you options for Music, Video, FM Radio, T-Mobile TV, Screen Share (DLNA app), as well as Slacker Radio. You can find all of these applications individually in the app drawer but we do like the idea of a centralized media app.

Notably missing on the myTouch 4G Slide is HTC Watch, the movie rental service, and we're just fine without it. With the new Android Market on its way, offering movie rentals, apps like HTC Watch will be unnecessary. Then again, we'd say it's unnecessary already, so we're not missing it one bit on the myTouch 4G Slide.

Camera

The camera is obviously the main feature of the 4G slide, as it's touted to be the most advanced shooter on a mobile device today. Our initial comparison with the reigning champion, the iPhone 4, back up HTC's statements. You can check out the Camera Shootout here.

HTC has worked some magic with the myTouch 4G Slide's camera software and offers up many options that you'd find on your everyday point and shoot camera. You can easily change the scene from the soft key on the top right of the screen. You're given nine options to choose from, Auto, SweepShot (panorama), ClearShot HDR, BurstShot, Night, Action, Macro, Portrait, and Manual.

The showstopper is the ClearShot HDR option, which produces some great photos. It takes a few seconds to process a photo using this option but it's well worth it. The subject needs to be very still when taking HDR shots or you'll see some inconsistencies like the image above with the Hulk.

The camera features a zero shutter lag, which will take a photo instantly upon pressing the shutter button. This ensures you'll get the photo you intended and not a second later. The lack of a shutter lag should also be helpful when using the BurstShot and Action photo settings. This also may be why HTC decided to call the panorama shot BurstShot, as you won't have to stop and make sure the right photo is take in the right place.

More settings can be found by pressing menu and will give you options to change the photo effect, resolution, widescreen, blink detection, and more.

While taking photos is a joy with the handset, you can also shoot video in 1080p HD but we've certainly seen better in terms of video quality, and as you can probably tell from the video below, stabilization. Image stabilization could could be better for photos as well, but there's still little to complain about.

Macro mode, default settings

HDR, default settings

auto, default settings

With the exception of the facial movement, this HDR photo came out great

The glitches in the video are a result of the file upload and not the original video. Still, that doesn't say much for the quality itself.

Call Quality And Battery Life

Call quality for the myTouch 4G Slide was fine and I experienced no issues on a call. Both sides came out loud and clear, so unless you're in a poor coverage area, you likely won't experience and issues with this handset.

Battery life for the phone is pretty exceptional but you're still going to need to charge it every night. If you're going to be watching a lot of videos and surfing the web for hours on end, of course you're going to get a shorter battery life but overall the 4G Slide deliver on the battery front.

The Final Take

Overall, the myTouch 4G Slide is a solid successor to the original handset T-Mobile released a little over a year ago. While the keyboard isn't as great as its predecessor, it's still usable and will only get easier over time.

As a personal preference, I would have liked the handset to ship with a slightly larger display. Even with a physical keyboard, making the screen 4 inches wouldn't make the handset unwieldy. That said, many people may not care about the 3.7 inch display and as I said before, this is just a personal preference.

If you intend to grab the myTouch 4G Slide, you'll probably find yourself taking more pictures than you normally would. I rarely use the camera on my G2X, not because it's bad in anyway, but because its less important to me. Having one of the most advanced cameras on a mobile phone just makes you want to take pictures of anything and everything.

The power under the hood of the myTouch 4G Slide should appeal to the spec-junkies out there, the keyboard will attract the power users, and the camera should satisfy amateur photographers and those who share pictures to social networks constantly. Even if you're not in one of these categories, the myTouch 4G Slide is still a device that's worth a look.

If you're looking for a powerful handset on T-Mobile and aren't sold on the Sensation or need a physical keyboard, then be sure to grab the myTouch 4G Slide.

 

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  • nerdlust

    Great review this may replace my cliq2

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/briangillet briangillet

    Blake, quick question, does it appear the MyTouch 4G Slide works with Exchange 2010? Am currently on the MyTouch 4G and cannot send emails on it using the included Mail app due to a lack of Exchange 2010 support. Any insights would be helpful – hoping this ROM build shows up for MT4G soon.

    • Anonymous

      Not quite sure, actually. I’ll dig into and see what I can find.

  • Rob Schoenfeld

    This is one of the fairest and balanced review I’ve ever read.  Well done my friend, well done.

  • Yameeno

    Is it better than the sensation 4g?

    • Anonymous

      It depends on what you really want. Both handsets are very similar, featuring the same dual-core processor. The Sensation has a bigger display with a higher resolution but the Slide has a decently sized 3.7 inch display at a lower resolution, decent keyboard and the best camera we’ve seen on a phone. 

      You’re really getting a great phone either way. It would be a tough call for me but I tend to like keyboards.

  • B3sos26

    is the phone still locked even if you open the keyboard. Or will it automatically unlock when you pull the keybord out? And if it doesnt how does the phone lock? or is it just that ring you see and you tap, b/c if it is im not feeling the locking system…

  • Henry

    I have a question? How long does the batery last if you leave it on during the day?

  • Rboycejr

    Some videos were erased from memory and i did not delete them.  has anyone else had this problem?

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