T-Mobile's third-generation myTouch Q promises zippy 4G speeds and the convenience of a physical keyboard for a wallet-friendly $49.99. For that price, the myTouch Q comes loaded with a 1.4-GHz single-core processor and Google's older Android Gingerbread operating system. Is this slider a good deal?
The first thing you notice when you pick up the myTouch Q is its considerable heft. At 6.8 ounces, this slider is heavier than its keyboard-less sibling, the 4.9-ounce myTouch, as well as the first-generation myTouch Q by LG, which weighed 6.5 ounces. At 4.9 x 2.5 x 0.6 inches, Huawei's myTouch Q is far thicker than the standard myTouch (4.8 x 2.46 x 0.41 inches), but only slightly thicker than the LG DoublePlay slider (4.8 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches).
The myTouch Q's face features a 4-inch WVGA display surrounded by a glossy black bezel, which is nicely complimented by a gray chin piece and edges. Above the display is the myTouch logo, and above that a large stylized silver earpiece. To the right is the phone's 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, a new addition to the myTouch Q line. Below the display is the full complement of capacitive Android buttons, but the Search button has been replaced with myTouch's signature Genius voice control button.
The phone's back has a rubberized soft-touch material. A 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and accompanying flash sit up top, while a vertical T-Mobile and myTouch logos sit below it. Beneath those is the myTouch Q's external speaker cover. The right side features a physical camera button--a rarity these days--while the left side includes a volume slider and micro USB slot. Up top are the myTouch Q's power button and 35mm headphone jack.
Slide open the myTouch Q to reveal its QWERTY keyboard. Like previous versions of the phone, the myTouch Q's keys are black with white lettering. Numbers and symbols get a neon yellow color treatment. Helping to give the keyboard some extra pop is a silver brushed metal backing plate.
The myTouch Q's 4-inch 800 x 480 WVGA display is exceptionally bright at 337 lux. That's far better than the category average of 297 lux, and much better than the Galaxy S Blaze 4G's display's 231 lux.
Unfortunately, the Q is handicapped by its resolution. While watching a 1080p trailer for "The Hobbit," we noticed severe pixelation. Colors were also a bit off with darker colors, especially during night scenes, creating muddled images. Text on websites such as NYTimes.com and Laptopmag.com was clear, but images looked blurry when viewed up close.
Sound emanating from the myTouch Q's rear speaker was surprisingly loud, easily filling a small conference room. On the whole, most of what we listened to sounded fairly clear. We noticed a bit of distortion when we cranked up the volume on French Montana's "Pop That," but were satisfied with the sound when listening to it at lower volumes. The myTouch Q's bass output, however, left much to be desired.
If there's one reason you would buy the myTouch Q, it's for its backlit, slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The newest Q does away with the ancillary buttons found on previous versions of the myTouch Q, such as dedicated www, .com, Home, Back and Genius buttons, in favor of a larger alphanumeric and directional keys. The keys' size and spacing, not to mention travel and feedback, made typing on the slider a breeze.
You can always close the slider and start typing away on the myTouch Q's standard Android virtual keyboard or Swype keyboard. Typing was mostly accurate, but we did notice occasional lag.
Software and Interface
The myTouch Q runs Google's aging Android Gingerbread 2.3.6 OS, which may be a turnoff for some potential customers. Overall, the interface is fairly standard, complete with five home screens. On-screen widgets include AccuWeather.com, T-Mobile Bonus Apps and T-Mobile Highlight, from which you can access RSS feeds from CNN, NBCNews, E! Online, check Facebook and Twitter and access your voicemail.
The only major difference on this Android phone is the custom lock screen, which allows you to swipe to unlock, open the camera app, check your call log or read through your text messages. Unfortunately, you can't customize these shortcuts. We did like how our most recently used apps were easily accessible in their own section of the Apps menu.
The myTouch Q certainly doesn't want for apps. T-Mobile loaded the phone with a slew of its own proprietary software, including T-Mobile TV, which lets you stream live TV and on-demand shows; More for Me, which gives you access to location-based deals; and T-Mobile Mall for downloading ring tones and apps. Want to get your game on? Game Base by T-Mobile lets you access a huge amount of top games, such as "The Sims 3," "Need for Speed" and "Plants vs. Zombies."
Third-party apps are also in abundance, including Documents to Go, Monopoly Classic, NetFlix, Slacker radio, TeleNav GPS Navigator, Facebook, Twitter, Zinio, Lookout Security, WildTangent and Words with Friends.
One of the myTouch Q's standout features is its Genius button. Powered by Dragon by Nuance, the Genius button allows users to access various aspects of the myTouch Q via voice control. Want to dictate and send a text message, make a phone call or open an app? Just press the Genius button and tell the phone what you want to do.
The first time you open the app, you're given a quick, but helpful, tutorial on the ways you should phrase your commands. If you want to search the Web for information on the Olympics, for example, you can say, "Search the Web for the Olympics," and Genius will go to work.
Search results are provided via a tabbed list of Web pages. When we searched for the Olympics, Genius brought up the Google search page for Olympics, as well as anything having to do with the games on Twitter, YouTube and ESPN. Similarly, if you search for, say, Italian food, Genius will immediately open Yelp or OpenTable, where you can see reviews for nearby Italian restaurants or make reservations.
Voice interpretation was generally accurate, but as with most voice dictation apps, there were some occasional errors.
The myTouch Q comes with a 1.4-GHz Qualcomm processor, 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. On the CPU benchmark, a synthetic test that measures a device's CPU performance, the myTouch Q notched a score of 2,624, just ahead of the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G's score of 2,576. That's an impressive feat when you consider that the Blaze packs a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 1GB of RAM. Still, the myTouch Q fell just short of the category average of 2,687.
Meanwhile, on the An3DBench graphics test, the myTouch Q pulled down a score of 7,250. That's better than the Galaxy S Blaze 4G's score of 7,017, as well as the category average of 7,141.
Just as its scores suggest, the myTouch Q proved more than capable of handling everyday tasks. Swiping between home screens and scrolling through the apps menu was smooth, while most apps opened without delay.
Our biggest complaint is the roughly one-second delay we occasionally ran into while switching between landscape and portrait modes.
Web Browsing and 4G
When it came to surfing the Web, the myTouch Q proved to be a capable performer. Although it runs on T-Mobile's HSPA+21 network rather than the carrier's newer HSPA+42 connection, the device averaged fairly swift 5.61 Mbps downloads and respectable uploads of 1.24 Mbps.
ESPN Mobile loaded in 7 seconds flat, while NYTimes.com loaded in 6.5 seconds. The Laptopmag.com desktop site took only a bit longer to load, coming in at 11.6 seconds.
Camera and Camcorder
Photos taken using the myTouch Q's 5-megapixel rear-facing camera were sharp, artifact-free and boasted exceptional color accuracy. A photo of a large crane located outside of our New York office and a shot of the late morning traffic moving down Fifth Avenue offered excellent contrast between the vivid green of the crane and the yellow cabs against the grays of nearby buildings.
The 720p video we shot using the rear-facing camera was equally clean. However, the camera had trouble adjusting to changes in lighting conditions. Worse, the audio sounded as if we recorded the footage with a piece of cotton over the microphone.
The myTouch Q's 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, which can be used for video chatting, offered predictably duller images, with pixels clearly visible around the edges of objects and colors appearing to be a shade too bright.
Packing a 1500 mAh lithium ion battery, the myTouch Q lasted 5 hours and 42 minutes on our LAPTOP Battery Test, which involves continuously surfing the Web with the phone's display set to 40 percent. That's just shy of the category average of 5:59. The Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G and its 1750 mAh battery easily blew away both the myTouch Q and category average, running for an impressive 7:11 before biting the dust.
Criticisms of the myTouch Q's voice quality were nearly universal. A cellphone-based caller said that our voice was so muffled, it sounded as if we put the myTouch Q in a sock and then tried talking into it. Landline-based callers told us that the myTouch Q sounded slightly low and tinny. Conversely, callers speaking to us sounded clear as a bell.
These days, you're more likely to see a picture of Bigfoot wrestling Tupac than to find a 4G-enabled smartphone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. This plump layout, in addition to the useful Genius button and $49.99 price tag, is what makes the myTouch Q such an interesting prospect.
That said, the phone does make some trade-offs to achieve such a low price, namely its low-resolution screen and dated OS. The call quality could also be better. In the sub-$50 range on T-Mobile, we prefer the Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G, which offers similar performance numbers and longer battery life. But if you want a physical keyboard on the cheap, the myTouch Q is a pretty good choice.