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Review: T-Mobile G2

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Screen

A year ago, the screen on the T-Mobile G2 would have been impressive, and not at all disappointing. Now that I've spent some time with Samsung's Galaxy S phones with their Super AMOLED displays, I can't help but wish for the same tech on every flagship phone I try. The Super TFT display on the G2, pushing 800 x 480 pixels, does seem brighter than the AMOLED display on the Nexus One, but it isn't as sharp or colorful as Super AMOLED. Outside, the screen becomes much more dim. It isn't illegible, like the Nexus One, but it doesn't hold up as well as the best on the market.

Sound

Call quality on the T-Mobile G2 is superb. The earpiece on the phone sounded crisp and clear for every call I made. Callers reported a similarly pleasant experience. Most callers could not guess correctly in my “landline or cell phone?” test. Both the earpiece and the speakerphone should be much louder. The speaker sounded clear, but it couldn't manage enough volume to hold a proper speakerphone call in a loud, fast moving car. The ringtones were also more difficult to hear because the speaker was a bit anemic. The phone had a solid vibration, but it could be stronger to be sure I'll feel it in a crowded pocket.

Signal

The T-Mobile G2 is the first phone to use T-Mobile's new HSPA+ network, which is slowly rolling out in cities across the country. Down in the vast Dallas suburbs, I found great reception on the new network, and impressive data speeds. When I had an HSPA+ connection, I usually saw speeds in excess of 2.5Mbps, and occasionally managed downloads at 5-6Mbps or higher. That's ludicrous speed on a modern cell phone. At its best, T-Mobile's HSPA+ network easily bested Clearwire and Sprint's WiMAX network and Metro PCS' LTE network in my area, both in terms of coverage and download speeds.

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What does this mean in the real world? Web pages open in a flash on the G2. I tried downloading some MP3 albums from Amazon's music store and also some large games from the Android market. I downloaded the new Die Antwoord album in less than six minutes. Downloading a 25MB game file, the phone was about as fast over HSPA+ as it was over my home 802.11n Wi-Fi network.

I never had a problem with calls going through, even when I couldn't find a proper HSPA connection. Sometimes, in dead spots, the phone would drop to EDGE networking or even GPRS. Data would slow to a determined crawl, or sometimes it stopped altogether. But phone calls rarely failed. Maybe a couple times in more than a week of testing did calls not go through to my recipient or find their way to my phone.

Battery

Battery life on the HSPA+ T-Mobile G2 is not as bad as battery life on WiMAX phones, and it's even comparable to some basic HSPA phones. But in a long day of intense use, the phone didn't last until dinner time. I never got through a full day without charging the phone.

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