Today, T-Mobile finally put the rumors to rest and officially unveiled the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide. Expected in July for $199.99 with contract, it's the latest addition to the carrier's line of consumer-friendly Android smartphones, and it's more than just the next-gen version of the MyTouch 3G Slide; T-Mobile is touting the MyTouch 4G Slide as having the most advanced camera of any smartphone out there.
Designed in collaboration with HTC, the smartphone has an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and 1080p HD video capture, which isn't out of the ordinary. What is special, however, are some of the new premium features. This includes a wide aperture lens and a backside-illuminated sensor (BSI). The latter technology is also present on the iPhone 4, and as CNET digital imaging editor Josh Goldman explains here, BSI improves speed and dynamic range and enables better picture quality in low-light conditions. Low-light performance has always been a trouble spot for most camera phones, so we appreciate any kind of help in this area.
T-Mobile also boasts that the MyTouch 4G Slide has zero shutter lag and comes with a dedicated camera button that can activate the camera even when the phone is locked. The camera's software offers an array of editing options and shooting modes, including SweepShot for panoramic pictures, BurstShot for capturing a sequence of photos, and ClearShot HDR.
HDR, which stands for high dynamic range, is a tool that helps capture a more detailed and accurate picture in challenging lighting conditions. With HDR, the camera takes multiple shots of a scene--one overexposed, one underexposed, and one with normal exposure--and combines them into a single image to bring out details that would otherwise be lost in the dark shadows or bright light. Though HDR isn't new and there are multiple third-party apps and post-production software programs available to achieve the same effect, the beauty of it on the MyTouch 4G Slide is that HDR is integrated into the camera app.
Of course, the camera is just one aspect of the smartphone, and it has plenty more to offer. The MyTouch 4G Slide will ship running Android 2.3 Gingerbread with the new HTC Sense 3.0 user experience, though we're told some aspects of Sense will be toned down. It will come preloaded with a few extra apps and services, including the Netflix Android app and the Qik client, so you can make video calls using the front-facing VGA camera.
In terms of design, the smartphone has a 3.7-inch, WVGA Super LCD and is similar in size and feel to the MyTouch 4G, which is pretty amazing considering it packs in a full QWERTY keyboard. Like previous MyTouch models, it has a Genius button on the bottom right to activate its voice-to-text capabilities.
Underneath the hood, the smartphone packs in Qualcomm's new 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and full wireless options, including "4G" (14.4Mbps) and support for Wi-Fi calling. Unfortunately, like the HTC Sensation 4G, only 1GB of the 4GB of internal memory is available to the user, and it only comes with an 8GB microSD card preinstalled, though you can expand up to 32GB.
T-Mobile stopped by our offices last week to give us a quick preview of the MyTouch 4G Slide. The hardware is impressive. As I mentioned above, it feels much like the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G. It has high-quality construction, with a soft-touch finish on the back, and is relatively compact and slim, which, as we said, is a feat considering the full slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is pretty easy to use. The buttons are a little flat but are a good size with decent spacing. The 3.7-inch WVGA Super LCD looked sharp, and the smartphone felt quite responsive as we navigated through the various screens and menus.
Now, whether the MyTouch 4G Slide lives up to its claims of having the most advanced camera on a smartphone remains to be seen. It was hard to really test out the features in a 30-minute briefing. The shutter speed felt fast, and the different shooting modes seemed to deliver the goods. Still, we'll reserve final judgment for when we get a unit in for review and can test out the camera in various lighting conditions and different situations.
That said, it's nice to see that T-Mobile and HTC are addressing the camera issue. More and more people are using their phones to snap pictures, which makes sense because you always carry around your phone but probably not your digital camera. The problem is, of course, the picture quality and performance are never as good as what you get from a standalone camera, so though the convenience of your phone has allowed you to capture that perfect moment, the photo often comes out blurry and grainy.
Smartphones are still a long way from replacing digital cameras, but it definitely doesn't hurt to have a phone that takes awesome-looking photos in your arsenal. Time will tell if the MyTouch 4G Slide is that device.