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Review: T-Mobile G2

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Menus Calls / Contacts Messaging Social Networking  

For the most part, the T-Mobile G2 uses a stock Android interface with almost no intervention from T-Mobile. There are a few apps that cannot be removed, but they are all Google apps, not carrier-sponsored junk. Otherwise, the homescreen panels and buttons, the application drawer, and all the system menus that lie beneath are basic Android, like you'll find on the Google Nexus One or the original Motorola Droid.

While some users may clamor for a pure Google interface, I don't count myself among that lot. Other Android phones have much better social networking integration, for instance. The phones running HTC Sense, like the HTC Droid Incredible, offer deep integration in the contact list, as well as extra apps and widgets to keep up with your social feeds. Motorola's newer Motoblur phones, like the Motorola Charm or Motorola Droid 2, offer a selection of adaptable widgets to bring social features up front in a manageable way. The T-Mobile G2, on the other hand, lets you sync your social networks to your address book, but it doesn't offer many integrated features, like photo galleries or a unified inbox to collect all my incoming messages.

The stock Android interface is solid, but it isn't easy for newcomers. There are spots where the length of time to tap on the screen makes a huge difference in actions. Do you want to start an app, move around the icons on screen or open a settings menu? The differences between those actions might seem subtle and confusing to newcomers. Also, the list of shortcuts and widgets grows longer as you add more apps, and all of those options might get confusing after a while. In the end, Android uses a highly customizable and rewarding interface, but it may take a lot of learning and some practice before you have the phone set exactly to your liking.

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The G2 uses Swype for a virtual keyboard in both portrait and landscape mode, if you don't want to slide it open. Swype is fantastic. Instead of typing each letter for a word, Swype lets you trace your finger from letter to letter. It may sound counterintuitive, but once you've tried it, you'll see why it's so useful. It isn't perfect, but it's fast and fun. Swype was already a superior alternative to most virtual keyboards, so the combination of Swype and the QWERTY keyboard on the G2 make this the perfect phone for iPhone-keyboard haters.

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