Next-gen Android phone goes on sale Aug. 5

Reviews are trickling in and note the myTouch 3G has no physical keyboard

The update of the T-Mobile USA G1 Android smartphone, the new myTouch 3G, goes on sale nationally Aug. 5 and reviews are beginning to trickle in.

The biggest difference in the new device is that it has no physical QWERTY keyboard, but still has the 3.2-inch touch screen. The previous model, the G1, had a swivel-out physical keyboard. Both are made by High Tech Computer (HTC) Corp.

Whether to buy a device with a physical or a virtual keyboard has become a major point of preference for buyers, although many handheld companies offer users a choice. Research In Motion Ltd., for example, offers smartphones such as a touchscreen Storm as well as its newest Tour, which has a physical QWERTY keyboard.

Reviewer Edward Baig in USA Today hit the point about the myTouch having no physical keyboard head-on: "In most ways, myTouch is a better Google phone. Unless you need a keyboard."

When T-Mobile describes the myTouch 3G, it emphasizes its design focus on personalization, and how users can customize menus, wallpapers and icons and choose among more than 6,000 Android Market applications.

Reviewer Hiawatha Bray in The Boston Globe said the number of Android applications is only a tenth of the number available for the iPhone, but that "a lot of them are pretty good," including the SnapTell app for comparison shopping.

Bray made a dig at Apple for refusing to carry an iPhone app that would allow the Google Voice telephone service. The myTouch 3G has this service due to Google's involvement in the Android operating system design.

Bray said the new hardware is lighter and thinner than the old G1, but that it suffers from the same "control clutter" of the older model with too many buttons to press. However, he praised the myTouch's improved battery life.

Bray also noted that 18 Android phones are due to come to market this year, and that Android phones are sold in 20 countries by 30 carriers. "Google's cell-phone technology could end up on tens of millions of handsets and become the global standard for smartphones," Bray wrote. "The Android invasion is just getting started."

The MyTouch 3G will sell for $200 with a two-year service plan. It has a 3.2 inch touch-screen and a 3.2 megapixel camera that supports video for use with MMS.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)

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