T-Mobile G2 Review
After weeks of leaked spy shots and rumors, the T-Mobile G2 is finally here. A successor to the original T-Mobile G1, the first Android phone to come to market, the G2 has been highly anticipated and for good reason. The G2 retains the basic form-factor of the original G1, but a lot has changed in the smartphone market in 2 years. The T-Mobile G2 packs in some solid specs, even if they aren’t all quite top of the line. For example, the G2 is running on an 800mhz processor at a time when more and more smartphones are touting 1Ghz as almost standard. Fortunately, the 800mhz processor inside the G2 is still full of pep, so much so that you’ll hardly notice that it’s not a 1Ghz processor inside. The T-Mobile G2 is also one of the first Android phones that comes running Froyo out of the box, it has a 3.7” S-TFT WVGA display along with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard with a unique Z-hinge design, and the G2 is also somewhat of a milestone as it is T-Mobile’s first 4G HSPA+phone.
What’s in the Box:
The box that the T-Mobile G2 comes packaged in is very compact and minimalist, not unlike the iPhone’s packaging. Inside you get the bare minimum of accessories – a micro USB cable, a stereo headset, and a compact wall charger that connects to the microUSB cable. There is no case or cleaning cloth included. An 8GB microSD card also comes standard with the phone.
The build quality of the G2 is impressive. It really feels like a well made device. In a lot of ways, it resembles a Nexus One with a keyboard slapped onto the back. The G2 has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard with a unique Z-hinge design. We’re always a bit nervous about the hinges on slideout keyboards, but we’re confident that HTC has enough experience making slideout keyboards that this new Z-hinge should wear well, and so far despite looking flimsy it is actually sturdy in operation. Also, unlike the Nexus One which has a trackball, the G2 sports a responsive trackpad – not that you’re likely to use trackpad that much. On the backside of the G2, the brushed aluminum battery cover is easy to take off. The battery cover also has the “HTC” logo emblazoned on it.
Weighing 6.5 ounces, the G2 is a bit heavier than your average smartphone as a matter of fact, it even weighs half an ounce more than the Droid 2. But the extra weight isn’t really that noticeable in everyday use, especially since its design makes it feel comfortable to hold in the hand while making calls. Unlike the original T-Mobile G1 that was blasted for not having a 3.5mm slot, the G2 does have a 3.5mm slot for using with standard headphones. It also has a dedicated camera button on the bottom right side of the phone, and volume up/down buttons. Measuring 4.68” (L) x 2.38” (W) x .58” (H), the keyboard adds thickness to the G2, but the thickness is within reason.
The T-Mobile G2 sports S-TFT WVGA display with a 480×800 resolution and a hits-the-sweet-spot 3.7” size in terms of real estate. The screen is sharp, rich, bright and colorful. And even though it isn’t an OLED display, the G2′s display is actually better than the Nexus One’s display which in comparison has a grainier display and also has a more reddish tint. However, in comparison to the Retina display on the iPhone 4, the Retina display still triumphs over the G2′s display. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the Galaxy S on hand to compare its display to the G2′s display. As far as as operating as a capacitive touchscreen, the G2′s display is very responsive and also has haptic feedback.
The G2 is running on an 800mhz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7230 mobile processor with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal memory. A 8GB SD card is also included which can be expanded with upto 32 GB. 800mhz might not seem like a lot nowadays for a smartphone, but the G2 performs snappily. This could be due to the fact that it’s running a pretty stripped down version of Android 2.2 with no fancy overlay like the HTC Sense UI which can ultimately impact system performance. All in all, most people wont miss having a 1Ghz processor in the G2 and we can’t imagine anyone complaining about this device performing slowly.However, I will say the battery life was pretty impressive – where I was used to getting 8 hours at most out of my Nexus One. The G2 lasted a whopping 13 hours after a full charge and heavy use – not bad at all. Of course this may vary for some depending on use.
The slide-out keyboard on the G2 is made of a comfy set of keys. The keys are a bit flat but comfortable and wide. The keyboard is also backlit. Unique to the G2′s keyboard design are three Quick Keys – one on the left side of the space bar, and two to the right of the space bar. These Quick Keys can be assigned shortcuts – that includes the option to directly dial a specific contact, load a bookmark, an app, and more using these Quick Keys. As far as the G2′s onscreen keyboard, it isn’t bad either, but we still think the iPhone has the best onscreen keyboard of any smartphone out there. The G2′s onscreen keyboard also works with Swype which is showing up on more and more smartphones nowadays.
Software & Apps:
The T-Mobile G2 is running Android 2.2 Froyo with Flash 10.1 support. However, it is without any fancy skins like the Sense UI or MotoBlur. There are a total of 6 home-screens, complete with your standard Froyo widgets.
The G2 is a true Google phone. Just about every Google-made Android App is included, so that you don’t have to download any of them. That Includes Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Goggles, Google Sky Map, Google Places, Gmail, Google Listen, Google Latitude, Google Translate, Google Navigation, Google Voice, Google Talk, Google Shopper, and Google MyTracks. Some preloaded non-standard Google apps include Amazon MP3, Facebook, Twitter, Quickoffice, T-Mobile MyAccount, and PhotoBucket Mobile. PhotoBucket is a great app to come preloaded because it features automatic media upload for every image you take with your phone, so you don’t have to worry about backing up your photos – since they will be automatically synced with the cloud. For those of you who don’t care to use the Google Voice app for your Voicemail, you’ll likely want to download the T-Mobile Visual Voicemail app in the Android Market.
The G2′s widget line-up is very basic and includes a Twitter (large or small) widget, Google Voice Inbox, Facebook, Finance, Google Search, Home Screen Tips, Market, Latitude, Music, News & Weather, Picture Frame, Power Control, YouTube and Quick Keys widget. All in all, the included widget line-up more or less provides you with all the important functions you could want for your home-screen, but lacks the pretty bells and of some of the other Android Skins.
Speakers and Call Quality:
The built in speakers on the T-Mobile G2 are tinny sounding when playing music, but are able to get moderately loud. When it comes to making calls, callers told me that they could hear me very clearly, even when I spoke to them using speakerphone, and even when I was on a busy street. I was also able to hear them clearly but not loudly. Many of us are already becoming hard of hearing due to wearing headphones all the time- so it’s important for the volume to go substantially high for me to hear a caller easily without straining. The volume of the G2′s earpiece just wasn’t loud enough as it should be, and sometimes I felt myself straining to hear the caller on the other side when I was in a noisy environment i.e…taxis blaring down the street. The same could be said for the speakerphone. Again, it just isn’t loud enough in a noisy environments and only did well in very secluded quiet areas. In regards to this essential feature, we’ve noticed that many BlackBerry’s and even Motorola smartphones excel in this area. However, to the G2′s credit, so far I haven’t experienced any drop calls nor do I need to hold the phone in any unique way to make a call.
The T-Mobile G2 is the first HSPA+ phone to take advantage of T-Mobile’s new 4G network. The phone also has built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. We tested the phone’s 4G web browsing speeds in Manhattan, and also went ahead and put the Nexus One and iPhone 4 through the same speed tests while we were at the same location.
Overall, the G2 managed to mostly trounce the Nexus One by shaving a few seconds off when loading up most web sites. The SpeedTest.net app revealed downloads speeds as high as 5779kbps for the G2, with an average at around 4500. This average trumped the Nexus One and iPhone 4 when we ran the SpeedTest app on them at the same location. There is no doubt that the T-Mobile G2 would make a mean hotspot for WiFi tethering, so it’s a shame that they didn’t included an app for that.
We haven’t yet extensively tested it, but so far the 5 megapixel camera on the G2 doesn’t seem that hot when taking indoor shots. Indoor shots tend to be very noise and often blurry. The camera app offers some neat options, including autofocus, and effects like black & white and sepia, so it’s a shame that the camera isn’t as rich as the camera app itself is. When using the built-in LED Flash, subjects tend to get very washed out altogether and overly saturated with light. As for video, the G2 is able to record 720p video 30fps. The video quality is more impressive than the camera stills and isn’t bad, as long as you keep the flash turned off.
We’re confident in saying that the T-Mobile G2 has what it takes to be one of the leading smartphones on the market today, if not one of the most exciting. It’s solid build quality, sharp and colorful display, sophisticated design, combined with a comfy keyboard and the Android 2.2 Froyo OS with Flash 10.1 support – plus every Google App you could ever want, makes the G2 a very capable and well rounded device. It’s ability to surf on T-Mobile’s growing 4G network is also impressive, and should ensure that the G2 grows in value as T-Mobile continues to build their 4G network. Our biggest gripes with the G2 is its mediocre camera and that its call volume and speakerphone do not get loud enough. But these two low points aren’t enough to discourage us from chucking our Nexus One and replacing it with the G2. The T-Mobile G2 is available for pre-order and will be $199 with a new contract.
Update 10/16/2010: Amazon is selling the G2 for $99 with a new contract.
The Good: Fast browsing speeds, sharp and bright screen, great build quality, comfy keyboard, runs Android 2.2 Froyo with every Google App you could ever want, great performance, sophisticated looks.
The Bad: Mediocre camera, call volume needs to be louder, a tad on the heavy side.