T-Mobile G2: Like An N97 With Android

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Back in July, I was desperately shopping for a replacement for my Nokia N97. I knew I wanted an Android-powered smartphone, but I also wanted a hardware keyboard and a dedicated camera button, and the phone had to support SIM cards. At the time, my only real option was to import a Motorola Milestone from Canada for use on AT&T’s network, or switch to T-Mobile for the MyTouch Slide. Neither of these offered me the speed of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon processor.

At the time, I chose to go with an HTC Nexus One, and that’s been an awesome choice – I’ve had a ton of fun with the Nexus, and learned plenty about Android in general. Unfortunately, AT&T’s network hasn’t been as much fun. I’ve been an AT&T customer since 2000, when it was still SouthwesternBellWireless. Since then, I’ve seen my data speeds become disturbingly unreliable and voice calls drop like rain. So, when T-Mobile announced the HTC G2, along with their 4G network (yes I realize it’s not really 4G), I was definitely interested.

The HTC G2 has everything I originally wanted – a hardware QWERTY keyboard, dedicated camera button, and the power of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. While I wasn’t totally convinced of T-Mobile’s network, I figured it couldn’t be worse than AT&T’s, so this weekend I took the plunge and switched Christina and me over. Christina took the MyTouch 4G, but I was focused on the G2.

After only a few days, it’s a mixed bag. The G2 is everything I expected it to be. Even underclocked to 800MHz, it’s lightning quick, and the keyboard and camera button already have me feeling at home again. Since HTC also offers the Desire Z – basically a G2 with Sense UI – it should be super easy to put HTC’s Sense UI on the G2, for the superior camera application.

The G2 is built well, with solid materials that feel high quality, rather than cheap plastic. The screen is awesome and easily read in sunlight, and the underclocked processor means I get a few extra hours out of the battery. The keyboard is a bit stiff, but totally awesome to have, with everything laid out nicely and plenty of extra shortcuts. In fact, I typed this entire post on the G2’s keyboard in about 30 minutes with no desktop editing afterwards.

T-Mobile’s network, thus far, is….different. On the one hand, I have worse 3G coverage than I did with AT&T. While at my parents’ house in Woodway, TX this weekend, I actually saw a G on my phone – signifying that I wasn’t even on EDGE, but GPRS. However, I’ve seen that T-Mobile’s network is more truthful and reliable than AT&T. When T-Mobile shows 3G, I actually get 3G speeds, whereas AT&T might show full 3G but only deliver GPRS speeds. Given the choice, I’d rather have an accurate representation of my signal.

Overall, though I had to dump ten years of loyalty to AT&T, I’m happy with the decision. AT&T has continued to release crappy lackluster Android phones, leaving me with no other option, since I don’t want to buy into their fruity ‘Jesus Phone’. With several phones on the US market and an increased focus on the camera experience of their smartphones, HTC is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the mobile industry. If they keep building phones like the G2, they’ll keep me on board.

Disclaimer: I currently work at RadioShack, Inc., on their mobility team. However, I purchased my G2 with my own funds on my own personally-liable account.

Photo from Engadget

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