Hands-on With the T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide

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I hinted at the myTouch 3G Slide the other week and earlier today in our Mother’s Day Gift Guide and now it’s finally official.

(More on Techland: Unboxing the T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide)

It won’t be available until June, but the myTouch 3G Slide is the perfect (and I’m not joking about this) smartphone for every member of the family. Not only will it ship with Android v2.1, the Slide ships with a handful of useful apps that were built in-house at T-Mobile. Before we get to those, I’ll break down the specs of the HTC-built myTouch 3G Slide.

• 3.4-inch HVGA touchscreen
• Slide out QWERTY keyboard
• 5-megapixel AF camera
• Wi-Fi
• Google Maps Navigation
• HTC Leap
• Ships with an 8GB microSD card
• Optical joystick
• Stereo Bluetooth/A2DP
• 4.55” x 2.37” x 0.6”
• 5.8 ounces

Like HTC’s Sense UI, T-Mobile has put their own variant ‘skin’ on top of Android that includes features like Faves Gallery, myModes and the Nuance-powered Genius Button.

Faves Gallery is basically a revamped version of myFaves that keeps you connected to upwards of 20 of your favorite people. This app pulls in all pertinent information about your favorite person that includes Facebook updates, Tweets and the like. It also threads text messages, IMs and e-mails keeping your inbox clutter free. Your Faves Gallery even has a custom LED that notifies you of important information from those you deem worthy. It’s pretty handy.

myModes is nothing new per se, but I found the ability to trigger theme changes based on geolocation to be pretty neat. You can create and store up to 10 different themes on your myTouch 3G Slide. Like I said, the coolest feature is the phone’s ability to recognize where you are and trigger a theme change if it’s something that you’ve preset.

A key feature of Android and any other Google product is the integration of voice recognition for simple things like search and dictation. T-Mobile decided to put a dedicated button that they’ve dubbed the Genius Button on the front of the device. I didn’t have enough time with it to really get a sense of everything that it could do, but T-Mobile has partnered with Nuance and what I saw was very impressive. GB even reads text messages aloud in case you’re driving.

Another Android tweak appears when you pull down the notification shade. There aren’t any images of it available right now, but T-Mo has implemented four (maybe 5, I don’t remember) widgets that can be accessed at all times while you’re checking notifications. I also tried Swype during my demo and was shockingly surprised at how well it worked.

The keyboard was modeled after Sidekick 2008, which wasn’t bad, but nothing compared to the Sidekick 2.

I’ve been a fan of HTC’s Sense UI, but T-Mobile’s UI is perfect for novices that don’t care or need to know what OS their phone runs. I’ve said in the past that Android would soon take major chunks of the market away from iPhone and BlackBerry for this very reason. Android is the perfect OS for carriers to tweak and mold into whatever crazy vision they think customers would want. The myTouch 3G Slide isn’t for me, but I can name a dozen people that it’s perfectly made for. Of course, I’ll reserve final judgment until we receive a test unit in the coming weeks.

The myTouch 3G Slide will be available in June in red, black and white. No word on price just yet.

BELLEVUE, Wash. — May 4, 2010 — T-Mobile USA, Inc. today announced a new addition to its exclusive line of Android™-powered T-Mobile myTouch® 3G smartphones — the T-Mobile® myTouch 3G Slide™. Anticipated to be available in June, the new myTouch 3G Slide combines a roomy slide-out QWERTY keyboard with an incredibly crisp, high-performance touch screen powered by the latest Android software. The T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide is purpose-built for communication, with unique new features that help customers connect more easily, more quickly and more often to their closest family and friends.

“Many smartphones are increasingly powerful in their features and specifications without continuing to improve the main reason that so many people have mobile phones — the ability to communicate with each other,” said Andrew Sherrard, vice president of product development, T-Mobile USA. “The new myTouch 3G Slide is a smart and sleek phone that fits into your pocket, your budget and your family life with exclusive T-Mobile features that put communication with your closest family and friends front and center.”

New features only available on the T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide include the following:

Faves Gallery™: Life is hectic, so it’s easy to miss opportunities to connect with loved ones. Faves Gallery presents up to 20 of your favorite people and the different ways to communicate with them — calls, texts, e-mail, instant messaging, social networking updates — in a dedicated application accessible through a soft button and an easy-to-use widget complete with photos, contact information and one-touch ability to respond. All of your Faves® get special status on your myTouch 3G Slide™; anytime they communicate with you or update their social network you get a notification in the notification pane. Even if you’re not using your phone, a custom green light lets you know you’ve got a communication waiting from one of your Faves. And you can respond directly from the Faves Gallery, without launching e-mail or other applications, so you connect more quickly and more often with the important people in your life.

myModes: myModes helps you draw the line between work and home by creating different themes with home screen apps, widgets and wallpapers to empower people in the different roles they play each day. You can set myModes to switch at a designated time, by location, or manually with the option to create and store up to 10 customized modes. myModes removes clutter and makes you more efficient both at work and at home. Want to forget about work on the weekend? No need to hide your work phone or switch to another device; just put away your work tools, like e-mail and your calendar by switching modes, and bring forward all the things you love to do on Saturday.

Genius Button™: With the Genius Button, you press one button, talk, and it delivers. The Genius Button, powered by Dragon Dictation from Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN), is an easy-to-access button on the front of the new T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide allowing the use of voice commands to control the phone and it’s features including making calls, composing and sending texts and e-mails, searching the Web or your surroundings. It will even read text messages aloud, and lets you dictate responses naturally as if you were speaking directly to a person.

Powered by the Android 2.1 software, the myTouch 3G Slide offers a rich mobile Web experience and access to thousands of applications on Android Market from games to location-based social networks to on-the-go shopping and more. Similar to the original, the new myTouch 3G Slide was designed to facilitate personalization inside and out. A five-pane home screen, with the option to increase to seven panes, offers plenty of real estate for your favorite widgets, applications and themes.

Designed by HTC exclusively for T-Mobile, the myTouch 3G Slide features a 3.4-inch HVGA touch-screen display with virtual keyboard as well as a roomy, slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Less than 15mm thick, the elegant design slides easily into your pocket proving that Android brains don’t have to come in a sci-fi box. The myTouch 3G Slide also features a 5-megapixel camera, a music player with a pre-installed 8GB microSD memory card, and enhanced video capabilities to make it easy for users to record and share pictures and videos, whether via e-mail, MMS or one-click upload to sites such as YouTube™ and Picasa™.

The device’s powerful mobile data experience is supported by fast data speeds via Wi-Fi and T-Mobile’s nationwide 3G network, which is getting even faster this year as T-Mobile upgrades its network with the latest wireless technology.

The myTouch 3G Slide is expected to be available in June, exclusively from T-Mobile USA in three colors — black, white or red. Customers can visit http://mytouch.t-mobile.com for more information.