In a day and age where everyone seems to want the latest and greatest, and nothing short of the best, it can be a rough world out there for entry-level devices. But not everyone is looking for -- or needs -- the latest multi-core, 4.5-plus-inch Android smartphone. That said, there still is a market for those who just would rather something with some more features than their basic phone, but without the cost associated with the top of the line products.
T-Mobile has had the myTouch line for a few years now, changing a bit each time, and this year it was Huawei’s turn to take a stab at it. They have brought to the table a pair of phones -- the myTouch and myTouch Q. Could a well styled entry level device succeed in today's market, or will it be overlooked and left in the storage closets?
Huawei has done a great job designing the hardware, and having 2 options available to consumers they will appeal to more folks. The Genius applications revamp makes it much more user friendly, and folks will want to take advantage of it daily.
Launching with Android 2.3 may not be the most favorable decision at this point, and the screen size is a bit smaller than most current phones.
For the price, the myTouch and myTouch Q are great devices for someone upgrading from a feature phone who wants a little more functionality. The devices offer a great package, and while they won't appeal to the Android enthusiast, they are likely to appeal to those who want to dabble in a smartphone without the huge price tag associated with it.
Inside this review
Huawei's a fairly well-known name outside the United States, and we're just now really seeing it break into America. We have seen some quality handsets come from them in the past, and they are back with two more again here. With an ability to keep costs at a low, with build quality at a high, Huawei is definitely a company that more folks will continue to look at.
Taking a look at the hardware of the myTouch and myTouch Q it is rather hard to tell them apart immediately, from the front they look identical. Turn the devices on their sides and you will be able to tell the difference, the myTouch is much thinner, as the myTouch Q adds some additional bulk due to the QWERTY keyboard. Aside from the keyboard the devices are identical, so let’s check out what they are all about.
Starting at the top you have the headphone jack and power button, pretty standard. Down the bottom is the microphone for calls, again nothing new here.
Down the left hand side of the devices you have a volume rocker at the top, which in comparison to other devices is a bit on the small side, and below this you have the micro-USB port. On the right hand side of the device it is pretty bare except for the physical camera button towards the bottom of the device.
On the front of the device you have a speaker at the top in a silver setting, with the iconic myTouch branding below that, along with the front facing camera in the upper right hand corner. Below the screen you will notice the four capacitive buttons that we have seen before, but instead of the standard search key you will notice a green G button. This activates the genius feature which we will touch more on later.
The myTouch Q features a slide out four row QWERTY keyboard that is very similar in style and design to all the previous myTouch keyboards. The keys are well spaced, and raised, making typing on the device rather easy.
Flipping it over you have the rubberized battery door with T-Mobile and myTouch branding, along with the 5MP camera and flash directly below. Removing the battery door will reveal the 1500mAh battery which sits directly below the SIM card slot. To the right is the micro-SD card slot which can hold up to a 32GB card.
One thing about the myTouch line is that it always seems to come with a highly skinned version of Android, and while Huawei has been known to keep it pretty vanilla in the past, this version follows suit on the myTouch line. While it would be extremely easy to rip into T-Mobile and Huawei for launching the device with a rather “outdated” version of Android, Android 2.3, when looking at the target market of the device odds are it makes no difference. While we would LOVE to see every current model launching with Ice Cream Sandwich or better yet Jellybean, not everyone out there wants or needs that, and a device with Android 2.3 will serve them just fine.
Right from the lock screen you will notice the customization as you have four options while trying to unlock the device. One of the most annoying things is that swiping from left to right will launch the camera, not unlock the device. While not huge for most, anyone who has used another Android device is likely to be confused here. From the lock screen you swipe down to unlock, to the right for camera, upwards for the phone, and to the left for messages.
Once unlocked you will notice the customization continues, and the theme is heavy. The dock allows for four icons of choice to be placed, along with a stationary app drawer button on the left hand side. This allows for quick and easy access to your favorite applications, which is always a plus.
Icons placed on the home screen appear in almost a playing card type slot, they have a border around them and the icon sits in the middle. Depending on your level of OCD you will either love this or it will drive you nuts. For me, it was the driving nuts.
With five home screens you can bet your bottom dollar that Huawei loaded them all up with various icons and widgets, some helpful and others that you will definitely want to get rid of quickly.
Launching the app drawer the first thing you are likely to notice is the stationary search bar at the top to help you quickly find applications. This feature is far more useful than you would imagine, especially if you have a number of applications installed on your device, and the fact that you can use a voice search is also a huge plus. Below this is the option to view all your applications that are installed on the device, or just the ones you have downloaded from the market.
As mentioned above Huawei has replaced the standard search key on these devices with a genius key, and this acts as a search button, but can do much more. While the primary functions of this appear to be for simple web searches, calls and text messages it can do more.
While not quite as powerful as Siri in some aspects, the Genius feature can get you current weather along with forecasts, send messages to your friends, get directions to a specific point of interest, all by voice. While some will say it isn’t the most powerful voice assistant out there, the features it does offer it accomplishes very well, and definitely makes some simple tasks on your device that much easier.
As far as bloatware, there is a bunch, we have seen it before, and quite honestly we will continue to see it until devices are no longer carrier branded.
When talking about the cameras that are included in our smartphones it is hard to know where to draw the line between good and bad. By no means do the myTouch devices have amazing cameras, but they are definitely able to capture your favorite memories while on the go. Featuring a 5MP camera on the back the device is no slacker when it comes to taking pictures, and with the added settings that are available you can easily customize your pictures as you are taking them on the go. Unfortunately the flash on the device is rather small, and a bit close to the camera, making low light pictures a bit rougher than we would have liked.
The video camera is nothing to write home about, but again it will be able to capture your memories in a quality that you won’t be ashamed of.
The unfortunate truth about most phone reviews is that they are bashed heavily for running an older version of the OS while many consumers don’t care that much about it. Sure, we would have loved to see the myTouch series come back to life with Ice Cream Sandwich instead of still running Gingerbread, but it didn’t and we can’t change that. The devices are clearly aimed at an entry level market, and therefore most of those consumers won’t understand the differences or pay much attention to it.
When manufactures tag on a QWERTY keyboard they are targeting a device at a very specific market, and that tends to restrict who will be interested. Huawei did a great thing here by offering two options for consumers with the same insides, one featuring the QWERTY and the other leaving it behind. Whether looking for your very first smartphone, or an upgrade from your old one, this device is definitely one to consider. The price verse specs leave the device in the desired category, and a device you will want to check out for yourself.