MyTouch 3G, Round Two

Second impressions
I’ve had a few more days to use this phone, and I’ve found out a few more things:

  1. Initially, it seemed the volume for the rings was too soft. Then I realized there was a plastic (dust-repellent?) cover over the camera and speaker that needed to be removed. I removed it, and it’s much louder now. A bit confused as to why the speaker is on the back of the phone, though.
  2. If you hold down the Home key, a list of recently opened applications will appear.
  3. There doesn’t appear to be a way in the browser to force links to open in the same window. I don’t really like having to wait for a new window to open for externally launched links or for links coded by websites to open in a new window. The default browser doesn’t have tabs—only windows.
  4. There is a little light next to the hearing part of the phone that indicates if the battery is low, if the battery is charging, or if the battery is full. Also, if you are charging the phone and it locks, when you press the menu key, it’ll tell you what percentage the battery is charged. The battery charges very quickly. I didn’t do an actual timing on it, but it seemed to take only about ten minutes to charge from about 50%.
  5. The Android Market reviews are totally useless. Basically if you want to know if an app is worth your time or not, you have to install it yourself and try it out. (I’ll probably do a separate post on Android apps I think are actually worth installing.)
  6. Even though you can make shortcuts on the desktop to your favorite applications, the applications tab itself is not customizable. It’d be neat to be able to rearrange the apps so that the most frequently used are at the top (less scrolling needed).

Thanks to the folks who commented on my MyTouch first impressions post. I’ve have some responses for a lot of the comments:

Mounting/unmounting the SD card

You don’t actually need to manually mount the SD card on the phone once you unmount it. They way you’re saying it gives the impression it’s really complicated (and it’s not). Click once on the phone to mount. Once you’re done, do it again to unmount. The phone should mount the SD automatically.

This is what happens with your T-Mobile MyTouch? That’s not what happens with mine. After I plug it into my computer, it will not automatically mount until I manually unmount it through the phone. And once I eject it from my computer, I have to again manually remount it through the phone in order for the phone to acknowledge the SD card data as accessible.

Modding

i have a G1 and there are modded releases of firmware you can install on your phone, at least for the g1. It gives you root access, tethering so you can hook up your wireless devices to use your 3g internet off your phone, and allows for multitouch zoom in the browser (no map though due to a locked down api). just be careful you don’t brick your phone. Do a search for jesusfreke.

I’m probably the only Linux user who isn’t into modding, and I have absolutely no interest in doing anything that may brick my phone. Thanks, though.

Flash

Most if not all blackberry’s have flash in the browser. They are not alone in this ability.

I didn’t know that. Since I don’t see any Blackberries with Android, I don’t really regret my purchase.

Default applications

I would add to the gripe-list that you cannot remove some of the apps that came with the phone (ie. Amazon MP3). These things are minor to me, however.

That’s a minor gripe I have now, too, after a few more days of using it. I can understand apps that are essential to the functioning of the phone (the Android operating system, the settings manager), but Amazon MP3? Really?

Flash again

The main reason that flash is largely unsupported is that nobody seems to have an ARM based version of flash on any OS platform right at the moment, save Nokia with their N770/N8×0 web tablets- and it’s pretty old in what it supports (Flash 7…)

Thanks for the explanation. It’s not a really big deal. I don’t even like Flash. It’s just that a lot of websites these days do use Flash heavily.

Turning off keyboard

To get rid of the onscreen keyboard you need merely press the ‘back’ key once.

That’s a great tip. I’m now using that instead of holding down the Menu key. Thanks.

iPhone v. other phones

In my opinion the iPod touch/iPhone unlock is superior to the method on MyTouch simply because the screen for iPod or iPhones are only sensitive to human touch (along with a few other things, but, its a very limited field).

In theory, yes, but in practice I haven’t really experienced any accidentally double-pressings of the Menu key in the past few days. Only time will tell if it’s a real issue or not.

Any touch screen phones are usually bad knock offs of the iPhone.

Fully agree.

This is simply because of cheapness of the cell phone business. The touch screens are never multi touch screens. Most of the touch screens need recalibration after a week or two of use, which is awful because I have a DS which never requires calibration.

I don’t know what recalibration is, but doesn’t the Palm Pre have multi-touch? I don’t have it on my MyTouch phone, but I don’t really miss it. Pinching photos and webpages is definitely one of those “Isn’t this cool?” but not very useful features of the iPhone. I’ve actually found the Android default web browser to be pretty good at fitting webpages to the width of the screen so that zooming in and out isn’t that necessary. And if you double-click the rolly ball, you get a little zoom box you can quickly move up and down the page to a particular section. Not elegant. Very practical, though.

The software on the MyTouch sounds like it definitely needs improvement. USB mount by phone software? Yuck.

In some ways, that’s a good thing. If my main gripes with the phone were hardware-related, there wouldn’t be much I could do besides get a new phone. With Donut and Eclair (the newer versions of Android) around the corner, maybe some of the usability problems in Android will be addressed in future updates.

One more thing: If you wanted an iPhone, why not virtualize Windows XP, install iTunes, and make a USB filter for your iPhone? It’s the way I do it with my iPod Touch. I put my iTunes music library in a shared folder between host and client so Banshee can play anything I purchased and so the VM hdd size does not balloon. Genius? :)

Maybe you didn’t read carefully, but I don’t want Windows. That means no virtualized XP for functionality. No dual-booted XP. No XP. No Vista. No Windows 7. Until iTunes is native in Linux, I’m not going to use a product that relies on iTunes to work.

Unlocking

Not many people seem to care on how easy to unlock an iPhone is. Easy as in “insecure”. To me, swipping a finger left to right and having access to the data stored in a device like this is simply unacceptable (although I think there’s an option to use a numeric pad, too).

Actually, the swiping for the iPhone is not for security. It’s just to prevent you from accidentally dialing a number while it’s in your pocket. You can set up an unlocking pin if you would like. Really, though, I think if your iPhone is stolen, it’s stolen, and a clever thief can get to your data anyway (and is probably mainly after the hardware and not your personal info). I’m a fan of the “Don’t let your phone get stolen” philosophy and not the “Leave my phone around and hope no one takes it since I have a password to guard it” approach.

Smart phones v. dumb phones

So from someone who doesn’t own a smart phone, and isn’t likely to get one for his birthday, what is it about one of any make that makes ownership so great? Is it the fascination of a new toy, being able to impress your friends, or is there something that they do which makes your life significantly better? I would find the answers to those questions really helpful in any future reviews.

Well, first of all, I’ve had a dumb phone for many years. A dumb cell phone can certainly suit all your needs. In fact, some people might even argue you don’t need a cell phone at all… or a phone. With technology it’s usually more about convenience and fun than it is about need. Do I need a car? Actually, I’m fine without it. I take public transportation, and every now and then I rent a car through ZipCar. Do I need a TV? There were about four years I didn’t watch any TV, and I got along in life just fine for those years. Now I watch TV a lot and enjoy many quality (and not-so-quality) shows.

It’s really the same with a smart phone. You don’t need anything the phone has to offer, but sometimes it’s nice. Here are a few things that my wife and I have found handy with her iPhone (and which I will probably find handy with my new MyTouch):

  • Sometimes when you’re out (away from your computer), something will come up in conversation that you’re just curious to look up. It’s not life or death, but if you wait until you get home to look it up, you probably will have forgotten about it completely by then. “Oh, yeah. What movie was that guy in?” “What’s an aprium? Is that like a pluot?”
  • If you’re in a rental car (which those of us who are not car owners sometimes are in), the GPS and turn-by-turn directions you can get on your phone come in handy, especially if you’re driving to some place you’ve never been before.
  • Likewise, if you’re in an unfamiliar area and really want to find a gas station or a place to eat (and read reviews of the restaurant), a smart phone comes in handy.
  • If you’re out at a bus stop, you can check online to see how long you have to wait for the next bus to come.
  • When you’re on vacation, you often bring a camera with you. But when you’re just out on your own or with your friends at some non-event, you don’t always have a camera on you. A smart phone is handy for taken impromptu low-res photos to capture a moment.
  • Visual voicemail is way better than calling up a voicemail service and going through menus to skip, repeat, delete, or save messages.
  • If you’re traveling and don’t want to lug your laptop around or have to find an internet cafe, a smart phone can be handy for checking your email.

There are probably other neat things. Again, nothing pressing or necessary. Just convenience and fun—like most gadgets.

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. Yes, the Palm Pre does have a multitouch screen. But those cheap phones that look like competitors to the iPhone (*cough* LG Dare *cough*) are just ordinary touch screen phones with little care given into the design. In other words, its a smart-ish dumb phone.

    And recalibration is for those phones which sometimes lose there ability to tell where you are touching. Apparently your phone is multitouch capable, so no recalibration is required.

    I hope Verizon gets it together and gets a real good phone. Network is great, phones… suck :\

    Thanks for the reply to my comment btw :) (And no, I did not pay attention to that detail about windows)

  2. Wow that was fast turn around! Thanks for the thoughts on the uses of smartphones. There are certainly some very handy and fun features. I confess to being very tempted.

    The need vs want issue is a topic in itself. While my wife and I are both “dumb” phone users at the moment, we are both car users and have one each. There are good reasons (I think), but could we like you manage without, or only one?

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