So many phones!
February 21, 2011 2:53 PM   Subscribe

What t-mobile smartphone should I get?

I'm finally making the jump to a fancy new phone and ditching my ancient nokia brick in the process. I've read a lot of the old picking a cell phone questions, but figure things change so quickly it probably wouldn't hurt to get updated opinions.

I'm on t-mobile and am not going to switch providers. So which smartphones are the best for t-mobile? I've played around with the G2 and the MyTouch 4G and atm am leaning toward the MyTouch. Are their other phones I should consider?

How are the Windows Mobile phones? Is android the way to go? I think of blackberries as more for business and not for a fun webbrowsing phone, correct me if I'm wrong.

What I want:
GPS with turn by turn directions
Nice web browsing experience
Easy e-mail access
Games and productivity apps
I have no opinion of keyboards one way or the other
Tethering? (I don't even know how to do that, but it sounds sweet)

posted by Arbac to Technology (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have a my touch slide and really like the keyboard, been generally v happy w/android on t-mobile. Its obviously heavier than a phone w/out a keyboard but since it normally lives in my bag it's not a big deal. GPS, web, email, apps all good. I like the ease of integration w/gmail and google calendar on my mac.
posted by leslies at 3:00 PM on February 21, 2011

i have a mytouch 3g slide as well and my next phone will not have hard keys if it comes with Swype. If it doesn't, then hard keys it is. This is to say, I got this phone (over the reg Mytouch 3G) for its hard keys, but I've found that I use Swype more than the keys.
posted by rhizome at 3:02 PM on February 21, 2011

I have a MyTouch 4G and I am very happy with it. My first one had a bad proximity sensor so I exchanged it for this one and I am extremly pleased to have one that works properly. Swype is great, but I am not fast with it yet.
posted by Duffington at 3:05 PM on February 21, 2011

I got a Nexus One. At the present, it's not the latest thing on the block, but it does a great job with all of your requirements, including tethering (latter may require root, I'm not sure, but the Nexus One is essentially a developer phone, so is super-easy to root and also gets community ROM updates before most other phones get official ones).
posted by zippy at 3:09 PM on February 21, 2011

I got the G2 about 2 weeks ago and am really liking it. It has all the things you asked for (it's an android). I checked Consumer Reports' roundup of cellphones in December, and the predecessor to the G2 was one of their favorite smartphones on t-mobile. I also checked the t-mobile website, where you can see customer reviews and ratings of all their phones, and the G2 was rated very highly by a lot of people. Finally, I checked it out at the t-mobile kiosk and liked it.

The big thing for me was having a slide-out keyboard. I think the G2 was the only android phone they had with a physical keyboard. I tried typing a few sample words in a text message on all the phones they had on display at the kiosk, and the touch screens were really hard for me to type well on. Typos everywhere. The physical keyboard is a lot easier to get right, although still harder than using T9 on my old nokia because the QWERTY keys are smaller and crowded together. After 2 weeks I'm getting better at using both the physical and touch-screen keyboards (you can use either on the G2), but honestly the physical 9-number keypad for texting is the only thing I miss about my old dumbphone.
posted by vytae at 3:09 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Get the Nexus S. It's amazing. It honestly blows the Nexus One away. And it kills the G2.
posted by GuyZero at 3:19 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Android is the way to go, and if you want a serious Android phone, you have two choices: the Nexus One and the Nexus S. Seriously.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

My parents and sister all have various iterations of the MyTouch and they seem to like them okay. My sister's (I think it's one with no physical keyboard) started acting weird and resending text messages from the past and not getting calls, so she had to have it replaced. I feel like they're maybe not as serious as an android phone or the G2 if you're looking for something as a hardcore smartphone user, but since my family are not as tech-interested or tech-savvy as I am, they may just not know how to use all the features.
posted by elpea at 4:19 PM on February 21, 2011

I have the Nexus S. It is a beautiful phone, and I made the switch from iOS to Android because of it. It comes factory unlocked--you can take it to any country and buy a SIM card there to use. It is a pure Google phone, so any updates come through immediately over the air, without the hassle of going through your service provider first (as most Android phones have to deal with now). It has native tethering, so any time I'm in a place where I need wifi, I have it. I installed Swype on it, and it works beautifully. T-mobile's generous unlimited web plans don't hurt either. The user interface isn't perfect, and some things (like cutting and pasting) aren't standardized throughout the phone, but it's a small sacrifice to me. The phone's Super AMOLED display puts iPhones to shame. It fits neatly in my pocket, and the little things like being able to create custom notification tones really count. One of the best purchases I've made in the last few years.
posted by therewolf at 5:40 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would wait for Windows Phone 7 to get its sea legs before jumping in. It's the newest kid on the block and has the fewest app offerings by a longshot. It had a weak launch and weak initial sales and was even outsold by its own crappy predecessor OS. It does not currently have the buzzfactor of Android for whatever that's worth, but the various tech publications have made some promising noises about it. Engadget loved some aspects of it and said it had promise for the future, but felt it still had some holes. I'd let it mature a bit unless Zune and Xbox Live integration are selling points for you.

I think your instincts about Blackberry are correct. Fine for email and messaging and calls, but while you can certainly browse the web on them, RIM is currently lagging behind in the smartphone OS race, so say techwatchers.

I think your best bet is Android and on T-mobile that means, effectively, Nexus S, G2, Samsung Vibrant, or MyTouch 4G. There are others, but they're either older, are outliers by non-top makers, or are "feature phones" with lower specs.

The Nexus S is a vanilla/stock Android experience, meaning that the handset maker (Samsung) has not fiddled with Google's Android operating system or placed its own user interface over it. Phone nerds in particular love that and lament that almost all other Android phones on any carrier have things like HTC's Sense, Samsung's TouchWiz, or Motorola's Motoblur (and whatever other makers call their UIs) laid over the OS, in most cases to the detriment of the OS in their opinion (though Sense gets some love). The Nexus S has no SD card expansion slot and has a fixed 16gb internal memory. It also isn't 4G. Those two things disappointed a lot of people when it came out, but those things may or may not be factors for you. I played with it in the store (I think it's only sold through Best Buy) and was unimpressed by the photo and video quality (at least as displayed on its own screen) and the lag between pressing the shutter button and it actually snapping the picture. Those things aside, and the seemingly premature/unnecessary inclusion of Near Field Communication functionality in the phone, it's a nice piece of work.

The whole Samsung Galaxy S line was well received though I don't know much about the Vibrant specifically. It's certainly an aesthetically pleasing phone. One nit I pick with it is that it has no LED flash as do some of the others in the Galaxy S line and many other smartphones. C'mon guys. Those flashes aren't great but they're at least something. Here's a review. It just came out last summer but already I'd say it's a bit long in the tooth. It has a 4G updated version coming out soon - see below.

The G2 either has stock/vanilla Android or something very close to it - can't remember - but it has Android version 2.2 ("Froyo") unlike the Nexus S's Android 2.3 ("Gingerbread"). But the differences between 2.2 and 2.3 are said to be mostly under the hood, so not a big deal. It has been very well received too. Engadget Mobile gushed about it. My friend has one and I feel like it's on the heavy side. I don't like ones that feel like a cheap plastic toy, but this one kind of weighs down a loose shorts pocket. I also don't trust that Z hinge to last me several years. The little pieces just look too flimsy to survive the inevitable drops.

Engadget Mobile gave the MyTouch 4G a somewhat mixed review, mostly due to software implementation but also for some mechanical reasons such as a too-quiet earpiece and a bad-sounding speakerphone.

If you don't have to buy right away, also consider phones that will be out soon on T-mobile. One example is the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, basically an updated version of the existing Samsung Vibrant, but this time with 4G capability and a front facing camera (still no LCD flash on the rear camera). It launches Feb. 23rd.

They're also releasing a Sidekick 4G in the near future, though I'm not aware of a fixed date yet. "Coming soon".

A bigshot Android phone coming soon on Tmobile is the LG Optimus 2X. It has a dual core Tegra 2 processor (the first phone to sport that), shoots 1080p video, has an HDMI out port and HDMI mirroring, and is slim and good looking. Engadget Mobile found it not-quite-ready-for-primetime on the software/stability front, but I wonder if they were using a pre-production model. Last I heard it had a March launch date.

Good luck and have fun.
posted by Askr at 5:55 PM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

I really like my MyTouch 4g. It's my first smartphone, though, so I don't really have much against which to judge. I looked at it and the G2 in the store, and the G2's keyboard seemed a little chintzy to me.
posted by Shohn at 6:33 PM on February 21, 2011

My husband LOVES his Nexus One--It's just a fabulous phone and he works outdoors so he uses it as his "office" all day with no trouble. I would also take this moment to mention that in the range of T-Mobile phones you should NOT get the Nokia Nuron. No one should ever get that phone.
posted by supercoollady at 7:49 PM on February 21, 2011

All android phones do this. IMHO, the best phones on T-mobile are the Vibrant (which I own) and the new Nexus S. The Vibrant does have some GPS quirks so I'd check out the Nexus S. Tethering is native on the Nexus. For Vibrant you'll need to install something like PDAnet ($39) to make it work.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:24 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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