Smartphones today all boast one thing: raw power. But power isn’t everything, and in fact, power has been the biggest hindrance to everyday telephony. That’s why smartphones have such poor battery life. Well, not the T-Mobile myTouch. It has enough power to accomplish everyday tasks and open basic, non-intensive apps, all while maintaining a stunning battery life.

Hardware

The myTouch is a small phone. It has a 3.8″ display, small by today’s smartphone standards (the closest phone in screen size is the iPhone, at 3.5″). The body is tiny too, just slightly bigger and thicker than the iPhone 4S. This makes the myTouch very easy to hold in the hand, very comfortable in the pocket, and of course, very light.

The internals are nothing spectacular: a 1GHz single-core processor and 512MB of RAM power the myTouch, and as you’ll see in the benchmarks below, the relatively weak processing power shows. The display is an AMOLED panel can get very bright, though in direct sunlight reflects fingerprints much more than the display itself. The screen resolution is 800×480, matching the standard Android display.

It’s simplicity in almost perfect form. LG, the maker of the myTouch, has only the bare essentials in this phone. It has 2GB of internal memory (expandable to 32GB), only three Android keys (no search button), a 5MP no-flash camera and a basic VGA front-facing camera. It’s also got a very strong 1500mAh battery, which is why the myTouch has such great battery life (see Battery life). I’m very satisfied with the handset’s build and design, though it’s significantly slower than the myTouch Q, which has a display with half the screen resolution, but identical internal components.

Software

Running Android 2.3, the myTouch has good enough components to run most applications, but tends to lag under the burden of it’s current Android build. It lags when flipping between home pages and slightly in simple apps. As determined in the benchmarks (see Benchmarks), the myTouch is designed for long-term use, not power. Most of the applications required for day-to-day use, like Google Maps, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Google Music, etc., ran just fine. They’re not as smooth as on competing smartphones, but they work.

Because the myTouch is T-Mobile’s phone, the software overlay is minimal compared to LG devices like the Marquee. Apps all have a dark hue around them, and the notifications bar has instant settings changes like enabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, etc. The overall software design is simple enough for anyone familiar with Android to adjust to, and easy enough for new users to learn the OS.

Battery Life

Battery life on the myTouch is phenomenal. It averaged 10 hours in multiple battery tests, and under normal use lasted around two days of moderate to heavy use. Actual talk time is significantly lower, which is curious. I managed around 4 hours of consecutive talk time, which matches what T-Mobile states. I brought the myTouch with me to CES and it was the only phone that daily didn’t die from constant use. That’s compared to the HTC Vivid, Samsung Epic 4G Touch, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and iPhone 4S.

I was also impressed with using the myTouch alone for all of my needs. Like LG’s Doubleplay, the strong battery life made it easy for me not to worry about how much I used the phone because the battery wasn’t going to die. Use the GPS, instant messaging, calls, and anything else and if you’re lucky at the end of the day the battery will be mostly depleted. Unless you spend a lot of time talking on the phone, in which case the myTouch fares about as well as most competing devices.

Benchmarks

Even though the myTouch isn’t very powerful, it does surprisingly well in the Sunspider Javascript benchmark, scoring higher than any other smartphone currently tested. It’s impressive, and the only explanation I can give is that the browser is very finely tuned and the Android software and T-Mobile’s overlay don’t interfere with Java processing.

The Browsermark score is also impressive, though the Quadrant Standard test shows the true limitations of the myTouch, with one of the lowest scores I’ve ever had. The low-end internal parts are the likely cause of such poor performance. Several other benchmarks used were also on the low side, and a few failed to run entirely. Finally, Amazon’s Instant Videos ran on the myTouch, but regularly crashed and the video performance was extremely poor.

Camera

As mentioned earlier, the myTouch has a 5MP camera and a 720p camcorder. The camera itself is nothing special, but manages decent quality photos. It has no flash. What is particularly annoying about the camera is that no videos or photos can be taken without an SD card, even if the included 2GB of data is empty. Why, I don’t know. It’s ludicrous that users cannot take pictures without an SD card. And even with an SD card, shots are saved to the phone directly.

Picture quality is decent. Focus tends to be the biggest issue with moving objects, and very close objects. Colors are oversaturated and in bright conditions are washed out entirely. In low-light, the colors are even more oversaturated, seemingly to compensate for the lack of light. That said, there are plenty of opportunities with the myTouch to take excellent shots if proper focus is set and the phone is held steadily. Thanks to the small body and light weight, that’s very easy to do.

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Low-light photography is fair to poor. The lens isn’t fast enough to capture light without serious blur. Video quality is fairly good, struggling most with quickly changing focus. Sudden changes to the ambient light are very quick, but there is a very noticeable framerate drop and slowness in even moderate lighting. Walking down a well lit hallway with no lights on (lit by daylight from other rooms) still didn’t provide enough light for the camera.

Conclusion

The myTouch is a decent phone. By no means is it anything special, and only excels in battery life. For heavy web browser users however, the myTouch is also an excellent device. If you’re the kind of person who needs a phone that can handle a lot of activity but not necessarily a lot of calls, the myTouch is great. It’s small, lasts awhile, and convenient.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Good

Bottom Line: The myTouch is a solid smartphone that runs built-in applications well and maintains a great battery life. It handles web pages excellently, but don’t expect to play games on it, or get a lot of talk time.

Pros:

  • Great size, build and design
  • Simple software that doesn’t get in the way
  • Excellent battery life…
Cons:
  • …except for talk time
  • Slow, does not run heavier applications well
  • Poor night photography, no flash










James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.