After nearly three years of using the T-Mobile Dash, I was finally seduced into getting a new phone. Let me say upfront that I am no Microsoft/Windows fan, but once I got a good ROM with the latest Windows Mobile, the phone was really good. There was really nothing wrong with my Dash, the only real issue was me getting a little bit tired of EDGE speeds. But Android sounded pretty appealing, as did the potential of writing my own apps (and possibly making a little bit of money from them (also, this ).
I have no idea why, but they shipped the myTouch in a really nice hard case (never to be used again) with everything packed neatly in foam. Pretty fancy. It came with a two-piece charger (wall plugin + USB cable), earphones, earphone adapter (more on that later), a nice little bag for the phone, a screen protector, and a 4GB microSD card (installed).
Unfortunately, it was quite light on instructions, and I had to go online to figure out how to open the battery cover. (I wasn’t going to start randomly pushing and pulling things on a brand-new phone.) The battery was charged, as usual.
For some reason, I was expecting the T-Mobile website to detect my new phone. I thought it did that before. With it still thinking I had the Dash, the site (wisely?) did not offer the myTouch data plans. Once I manually set my phone, it came up and I signed up for the $25/month plan.
Using the Phone
The onscreen keyboard takes some getting used to. However, after several hours of messing with the phone, I realized it expects you to use your thumbs, not fingertips. I would rather use my finger, personally, but it responds much better to “fatter” touches. Scrolling also takes some practice. For one thing, I’m used to down being down and up being up, although I understand the abstraction of “throwing” the screen. It’s also a little tricky to scroll instead of clicking on things. I assume in time I’ll get the hang of it, though. Oh, and sweaty fingers don’t work at all.
One other thing about the fingers: I was holding the phone landscape-style between the forefinger and thumb on my right hand, and touching the screen with my right pointer finger (probably behavior from playing the DS.) The problem with that is the volume key then directly underneath my thumb. Switching to thumbs-mode (like playing a NES, I guess) “fixes” this.
Another thing I kept confusing was the “disconnect” (red phone) key locking the phone. I am used to that being the “close application” or “cancel” button. But I got over that pretty quickly.
Besides basic dialing/browsing, the initial setup on the phone makes it kind of difficult to find anything. Settings are buried quite deep and I’m not sure they are organized as best as they could be.
Strangely, I often feel lost when using applications on the phone. Most apps don’t have “Okay” or any kind of confirmation buttons, you just use the ”<-” key. It’s hard to tell where you are or what you are expected to do.
I started missing some things immediately. First, being able to quickly call a contact. On the Dash, I had it down to two keypresses. Second, I’m used to being able to see unread email counts right upfront, even when the phone is locked.
For the first issue, I found that “AnyCut” (free from the Market) will allow you to put a single-press shortcut on the home screen to call a contact. Problem solved.
For the email issue, I did not really find a solution. If you are an expert at writing email clients, here’s your opportunity. Search for “android email client” and you will see huge numbers of complaints. I’m using “K-9 Mail” now, which is a fork of the default client, but it’s still not as convenient or snappy as the Windows Mobile client (which was nothing special). K-9 still uses the “notifications” mechanism to tell you about unread emails, which is workable, but I would really prefer some kind of widget deal.
To combat the buried settings, I installed an app called “Toggle Settings” and dropped it on the home screen. Works for me. That’s how I found out the GPS was turned off.
Anyhow, now for the stuff that worked. The “voice search” is pretty cool and works well, although I don’t see myself using it. Google Maps is as good as you would expect, and that thing they showed in the G1 commercials with the street view actually works, too. Google SkyView is awesome. Of course, I had to get it during one of the rare cloudy days here, so I couldn’t try it outside.
The Android Market is decent. I hear it’s better in 1.6, but my phone hasn’t updated yet. Going through popular apps is alright, and I like the way you can immediately see ratings and comments from people. If you are just browsing, you can sort by category and then popularity or date. Unfortunately, though, if you just do a search you cannot sort the results at all (unless I missed something).
“Locale” is an application I’ve wanted forever. You can make all kinds of phone settings change according to your calendar, dates/times, location, or who is calling. You can set up all kinds of different things, and it’s really useful. No more embarrassing phone sounds in the middle of silent rooms!
The YouTube app works. Since I mostly use YouTube to lookup/listen to specific songs, I can see this being useful. I assume the video quality is a function of both the device and the uploaded video, so I am reserving my opinion of that until I fiddle with it more.
I also installed “Power Widget,” which simply displays the percentage of your battery left. The battery icon at the top of the screen is definitely misleading (right now shows full for 86%).
The calendar it came with is decent. My only complaint is that, again, the Dash would show upcoming appointments on the home screen, which was pretty nice. Perhaps there is an app somewhere for that, I haven’t looked yet.
I tried using one of the “home replacement” apps, but I could tell it slowed everything down, so I got rid of it pretty quickly. Like one blog I read, I think using the native one is going to provide the best performance/power usage for now.
I promised to get back to the earphone adapter, and then I forgot. Basically, it’s really short (like 3 inches), putting the microphone close to the phone and far from your mouth. I tried out the earphone/microphone deal from the Dash and it worked just fine. On the other hand, the adapter lets you use whatever headphones you want.
Anyhow, that’s most of what I’ve explored so far on the phone. I’ve come to the conclusion that I would probably not pay $199 for the phone, because somehow that sounds like a lot more than $149. But at $149, it’s pretty slick, and I imagine it will continue to improve as the Market expands and Android becomes better.