mytouch_opener_2501WHAT: T-Mobile myTouch 3G

COMPARE TO: Apple iPhone, Blackberry Storm, Palm Pre

PRICE: $499; $199 w/ Two Year Contract

FUN FACT: The myTouch 3G comes in three colors: Black, White, and Merlot.

WHY COMPLEX IS CO-SIGNING IT: In the consumer gadget marketplace, fierce competition breeds great products. And nowhere has that been more evident than in the world of mobile phones. Ever since the iPhone made companies rethink the role phones play in the lives of consumers, we've seen a flood of models looking to replicate Apple's success. One of those phones was the T-Mobile G1, a touch screen slider powered by Google's new Android phone operating system. And while it brought some widely praised innovations to the market, many felt the phone was not refined enough to do battle with the other touchscreen mobile devices now going for the throne. To give it another go, T-Mobile (and manufacturer HTC) went back to the lab and came back with the more responsive, more attractive and better featured myTouch 3G.

Consumers who couldn't commit to the iPhone because of its lack of a real keyboard, loved that G1 incorporated one without doing away with the touchscreen. However, leaving in the keyboard made for an exceptionally fat handset. To get the myTouch 3G down in size, they did away with the conventional keyboard and went with a virtual QWERTY keyboard that automatically goes from portrait to landscape mode depending on the application and orientation of the phone. This all together makes for a much slimmer package. The keyboard isn't as functional as the old one, but after an hour with it, we were breezing through typing. Even with the slim new frame, we expected some internal storage, instead we got a 4 GB microSD card to store songs and videos on. Not bad, but not great. Also not great is the lack of a traditional 3.5" headphone slot, making it so you have no choice but to use the headphones included with the phone. However, what is great, is the inclusion of WiFi to go along with support for T-Mobiles 3G network allowing you to quickly download web pages and songs from Amazon's MP3 store.

A popular complaint with the G1 was the responsiveness of the touchscreen, or lack thereof. Scrolling through lists was made difficult as you had to flick the same spot over and over again to just get a response. This time around, the screen feels more high grade: less like plastic, more like some sort of glass, and the difference is like night and day. In addition to the screen, you can also navigate using the trackball located between the "talk" and "end" keys. We found this to be useful when reading a lot of text on a website like the NYTimes, or

The myTouch 3G runs the latest version of Google's Android operating system, code named "Cupcake." Cosmetically, not much has changed (the icons and overall appearance appears to be fresher), but take a little time running through the different screens and built in applications and you'll notice how everything moves much more smoothly. Also made simpler (one click) is the ability to upload your photos to Picasa and videos to YouTube. You still have the endlessly useful multi-desktop feature that allows you to have your apps divided among multiple screens. The biggest add on is the aforementioned virtual keyboard that opens up with every edit box. On top of that, you still get the awesome ability to simultaneously run more than one program at any given time, and the option to customize the look of almost any and everything in the phone—icons, wallpapers, menu's, etc.

And just because they did away with the physical keyboard doesn't mean T-Mobile is any less serious about the myTouch being a true communications beast. You can set up email with just about any type of POP3 (most web based emails) or IMAP email systems, as well as full synchronization with all of Google's services: Calendar, GMail and Google Talk. If AOL's AIM is more your flavor you can set that up, too, along with Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger.