T-Mobile myTouch 3G: Too Little, Too Late?

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T-Mobile myTouch 3G: Too Little, Too Late?
Can T-Mobile's myTouch 3G woo the mobile-phone masses? Does it have what it takes to convince T-Mobile G1 owners to upgrade or is it cool enough to convince the iPhone-envious to take the myTouch plunge? I say T-Mobile's myTouch 3G offers too little, too late. Here is why.

The first time we have seen a version of the T-Mobile myTouch 3G was back in February, when Vodafone launched the phone in Europe calling it HTC Magic. Then, a few months later, my colleague Melissa J. Perenson got her hands on the Google Ion, essentially a developer version of the HTC Magic.

With this incarnation T-Mobile added slight customization to the Android mobile operating system -- two more color alternatives (merlot and black), and a $199 price tag to match the other devices it competes with on the market.

Same Phone Essentially

The first striking difference between the T-Mobile G1 and its successor, the myTouch 3G, is the form factor. Thanks to the Android 1.5 update (also known as Cupcake) a virtual keyboard is present, which helps the myTouch 3G to get rid of the physical keyboard of the G1. Removing the keyboard also resulted in a thinner and more pocketable device (the G1 chin is gone as well).

But besides the different form factor, there is not much else to differentiate the two devices. Both the G1 and the myTouch 3G feature the same display (3.2 inches, 320 by 480 pixels), 3G radio (HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA 2 Mbps), Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (with A2DP) and 192MB RAM / 256MB ROM.

The camera has not changed on the myTouch 3G either, with the same 3.15 MP and autofocus features. Video recording and YouTube is included in the pack for both G1 and myTouch 3G, courtesy of the Android 1.5 software update. The myTouch 3G also inherits some of the dreaded features (or lack of) from the G1, such as the lack of a camera flash or a standard 3.5 mm audio jack (a must in all decent smartphones nowadays).

Show me the money

Same as the iPhone 3G S, the myTouch 3G brings over its predecessor an improved battery life, which is up to 420 hours of stand-by time (from 406 on the G1) and up to 7h 30min of talk time (from 5h 20min on the G1). So far, it looks like the myTouch 3G will last customers through the entire day, without the need for a recharge.

One major improvement the myTouch 3G brings over the G1 on the U.S. is official Microsoft Exchange support. We have seen in Europe some Exchange-supported Android devices, but they were custom-built by HTC and were missing the Google branding because of that. Oh, and did I mention proper multitasking?

The price point of the myTouch 3G though, is an interesting one. The new phone comes in at $199 (same as the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre) with a two-year T-Mobile contract. But for $199 you only get a myTouch 3G with a 4GB memory card (microSD, user-upgradable up to 16GB), while for the same price you can grab a brand-new iPhone 3G S or Palm Pre with either 16GB or 8GB (Pre) of storage.

T-Mobile will be taking pre-orders for the myTouch 3G on July 8 and will start delivering the devices in late July. National retail availability is planned for early August. That's almost seven months after the European launch (I guess the Europeans had their revenge now in the delayed availability of the G1 last year).

Beauty is the Eye of the Beholder

This summer's smartphone lineup is now almost complete with the announcement of the myTouch 3G. (see Ginny Mies' analysis on this topic). While still on Android land, the Samsung Galaxy would look like a better upgrade from the G1, with an AMOLED display, 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, 11.9mm thick (thinner than the iPhone) but the U.S. availability of Samsung's first Android device is not certain yet.

In my opinion T-Mobile is offering too little, too late. Unless you are a die-hard Android fan, you would be better off with buying a Palm Pre or an iPhone 3Gs (you get more features for your buck, plus multi-touch). Or alternatively, wait until the Samsung Galaxy comes in the US.

So will you be rushing off to buy a T-Mobile myTouch 3G next month, or will you wait for a better-featured Android phone, such as the Samsung Galaxy? Or maybe you will opt for a Palm Pre or an iPhone 3G S for the same price? Please let me know in the comments.

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