Review: T-Mobile myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition

One of the biggest Android marketing pushes we've seen this side of the Motorola Droid has been from T-Mobile and the myTouch 3G line. And it's a testament to the popularity of the device that we now have a Fender Limited Edition (see our video hands-on), modeled after the famed guitars. And this has truly been a limited edition, as it's already sold out.

After the break, we go in-depth with the myTouch 3G and, specifically, the Fender edition.

The packaging

No minimalist white box here. While the Fender edition shares the same lines as its myTouch 3G little brother, Fender LE comes in guitar case-like packaging, wrapped in a cardboard shell that has wall-worthy artwork on the inside. The outside of the case is kind of a fake leather-vinyl deal that actually feels nicer than what you'd fine on many guitar cases. A silver Fender pick shines brightly from the lower corner.

myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition

Unzip the case and you see your ax -- erm, phone -- for the first time. The phone itself is embedded in gray foam, but its faux wood grain finish is beautifully offset by the dark green velvet that lines the interior of the case.

A center divider holds the usual promo material. Flip it over and you have the USB wall charger and ear buds, all off which are done up in the same faux wood finish as the phone. Until you actually touch it, you might think it's wood. It's that well done.

A webbed pouch holds the miniUSB cord, pads for the ear buds and a shirt clip. There's also a green velvet(ish) carrying case for the phone. All in all, really nice touches for a limited-edition phone, and the Fender brand is carried throughout.

The hardware

Save for the much cooler paint job, the design of the myTouch 3G Fender LE is the same as the stock MT3G. Its lack of a hardware keyboard keeps it nice and thin, though not as thin as the Nexus One.

At 4.5 inches tall, 2.2 inches wide and 0.6 inches thick, it's roughly the same size as the HTC Droid Eris, which essentially is Verizon's version of the MT3G. The MT3G weighs in at just 4.1 ounces.

The shell of the MT3G Fender may imitate wood, but it has a decidedly plastic feel to it, though it's not a cheap feeling. It's glossy and slick and has no problem picking up fingerprints.

In the hand, it just feels good. Not too big, and not too small. Obviously that's a bit subjective, but with its rounded corners and just a hint of chin, it's a nice mix between the harsh design of the Droid and the uber-sleek Nexus One. As usual, HTC makes a phone that just feels good.

myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition

myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition

The button arrangement remains the same between the original MT3G and the Fender edition. beneath the screen are the home, menu, back and search buttons. Call and end/power buttons flank the white trackball, which can light up to show notifications. The left-hand bezel has the standard volume rocker.

On the bottom of the MT3G you'll find HTC's proprietary extUSB port. (Mini USB plugs work just fine with it, too.) The good news in the Fender edition is that the extUSB port won't be doing double-duty as the headphone jack. No, the Fender edition has an honest-to-goodness 3.5mm jack on the top bezel, putting an end to the senseless need for an adapter. (FWIW: The newly released updated version of the myTouch 3G also has a 3.5mm jack.)

The rear speaker is nice and loud, which you'd expect from a phone that touts its musical ability. The usual rear-facing 3.1-megapixel camera also can be found peeking out the back of the phone. We'd like to see a dedicated camera button, but that's no deal-breaker.

The battery cover sides down with an easy push from the top. You can swap microSD cards without removing the battery. And speaking of the microSD card, the Fender LE comes with a 16-gigabyte card, which should have more than enough room for a slew of music and other media. The battery will have to come out before you can remove the SIM card, but chances are you won't be doing that on a regular basis.

The screen

The myTouch 3G line has a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen. It's of the regular LED variety, so it's not as brilliant as what you'd find on the Nexus One, with its AMOLED screen. And at just 320 pixels wide by 480 high, it's not nearly as crisp as what you'll find on newer devices with their 480x800 screens. But unless you're the kind of person (us) who counts pixel density all day long, might not even notice. There's a greater difference between its lowest brightness setting to the middle than there is from middle to high.

Responsiveness is good. The Fender LE had no problem picking up finger of thumb presses. Haptic feedback -- where the phone buzzes when you press something -- is available. You can take it or leave it.

There is a hidden LED next to the front ear speaker that alerts you to notifications.

Under the hood

The myTouch 3G line is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7200A processor running at 528MHz. What's that mean? It's not the latest and greatest technology, but it's enough to get the job done. The 256 megabytes of RAM are enough to keep multiple applications running at the same time, and you shouldn't be wanting for more app space with 512MB of program storage memory (ROM). Again, it's not the latest and greatest specs, so you're not going to be doing any major 3D gaming on the MT3G.

The myTouch 3G has a removable 1340mAh (that's milliampere-hours) battery that's rated at up to 7 hours of talk time or 17 days of standby time. That will vary, of course, depending on how much you actually use the device. But having a removable battery means you can swap it out at any time for a spare one.


The myTouch 3G (regular and Fender edition) currently runs Android 1.6 (aka Donut) but is expected to get an upgrade to Android 2.1 (aka Eclair) sometime this spring, at least according to a Fender press release. Currently it has three home screens, and that likely would increase with the upgrade.

myTouch 3G Fender edition home screen

myTouch 3G Fender edition system

For the most part, the Fender LE comes with your basic Android apps. Alarm clock. Amazon MP3 store. Browser. Calculator. Calendar. Camcorder. Camera. Contacts. Dialer. Gallery. Google Talk. IM. Google Maps. E-mail (non gmail). Gmail. T-Mobile My Faves, Android Market. Messaging (text messages). Voice dialer and search. Voicemail. YouTube. And so on and so forth. All off the Google apps (gmail and the like) work as expected, though I did have problems with Google Voice crashing.

Where the myTouch 3G Fender edition really shines, of course, is with its music applications. For playback, there's HTC's flavor of music player. It's fine, and it works. And there are other options in the Android Market if you want to try something else. The Fender edition comes pre-loaded with a handful of songs from Avril Lavigne, Brad Paisley, Eric Clapton and Wyclef Jean. That's all the major food groups, right?

You're probably going to want to sync some of your own music onto that 16GB storage card, and T-Mobile's made it very easy to do so, including the doubleTwist desktop application with the myTouch 3G. If you've ever used iTunes, you'll feel right at home with doubleTwist, which has been a favorite of smartphone lovers for some time.

But it's the apps for aspiring musicians that make the Fender edition stand out (in addition to the paint job, of course).

First there's "Solo." Launch it and you're greeted with the business end of a guitar. You're not going to be cranking out pentatonic scales or anything. But if you want to get your strum on, there are more than enough chord options to at least pretend you know how to play. (Whether it convinces that girl in the office that you actually have a sensitive side is another matter.)

Solo app

Solo app

Solo is a demo app, and you're limited to just one guitar tone. You can upgrade to the full version in the Android market for €1.50, or about $2 U.S.

Then there's the "Musical" app, which features a better arsenal of instruments. There's a metronome, pitch pipe and tuner to keep you in time and in tune. There's also a scrolling thee-octave piano, a two-octave full-screen keyboard with a number of synthesized instruments, and an eight-piece drum kit.



Pitch Pipe


Do note that you're not going to be ripping off power chords or banging away like Jerry Lee Lewis or Dave Grohl, thanks to a lack of multitouch. It's one note at a time, thank you very little.

The camera

The myTouch 3G Fender has your basic 3.2-megapixel camera. It's good enough for simple shots, but you're not going to want to be framing these, for the most part.

Video's not nearly as good, but that's no great surprise.

GPS, phone and Bluetooth

Not too much to say here. GPS works just fine with Google Maps, connecting very quickly. So fast, in fact, that I didn't have to wonder whether it was connecting. (Do note that you don't get pinch-to-zoom in Google Maps like you do on the Droid or the Nexus One.)

Phone calls sound just fine. That will, of course, vary depending on your coverage area. Bluetooth connected without a hitch. Things just work.


The myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition -- and the original myTouch 3G -- is a solid part of  T-Mobile's Android lineup. Problem is, it's no longer at the top of the lineup, at least when it comes to technical specs. That crown is worn by the Nexus One.

The big difference there, of course, is that the Nexus One isn't sold in T-Mobile stores or advertised on television, and that makes the myTouch 3G the big winner for someone who walks in off the street looking for an Android phone.

But that's not the phone's fault. The myTouch 3G (and the Fender Limited Edition) is a good buy, though there's a likely successor waiting in the wings in the HTC Espresso (which may become the myTouch 3G 2). If you're really into Fender, you're going to want to pick up the Limited Edition, if you can. If you're really into the form factor, you could go with a regular myTouch 3G.

Phil Nickinson