T-Mobile G2 Review: Battery Life, Build Quality, and Performance

T-Mobile kicked off the Android frenzy in America with the HTC G1. Although that phone had its quirks, it was a glimpse of Android’s excellent future. For a while, T-Mobile was the premiere Android carrier in America, but Sprint and Verizon surpassed it with phones like the Droid, Droid Incredible, Evo 4G, and Droid X. The company is striking back with the HTC G2. This Google Android 2.2 phone features a rock-solid build and compatibility with T-Mo’s blazing HSPA+ network.

The first part of my review will cover this excellent phone’s build quality, battery life, software, and performance. If you’re the impatient sort, here’s a spoiler-free summary: I’m shocked that the T-Mobile G2 has become my favorite Google Android phone of 2010.

Build Quality
The G2 is built like a tank, with ample use of metal. It’s relatively small compared to recent Android releases, measuring 4.68” (L) x 2.38” (W) x .58” (H). The phone feels heavy, especially in contrast to super-light Samsung Galaxy S phones like the Verizon Fascinate. It’s definitely a matter of personal preference, but I think that most people would prefer the feel of the G2. Its heft and use of metal give it a luxurious feel. The G2 feels like a $500 piece of consumer electronics, while Galaxy S phones feel like display models.

One of the big hooks of the G2 is its slide-out keyboard. Instead of the customary spring-loaded slider, the phone has an unusual hinging mechanism. It works well. The keyboard slides out smoothly, without the harsh snap found on most sliders. The keyboard itself is very good, with nice spacing and three programmable buttons. That said, I preferred the feel of the Droid 2’s keys. I recommend trying it out in a store for yourself instead of listening to a guy that has sworn off physical keyboards in favor of Swype.

Software and Performance
The pre-release buzz on the G2 was that it would use the stock version of Android 2.2 (FroYo). It does not. The G2’s OS is very, very close to vanilla Android, but features like WiFi tethering have been removed and subtle usability tweaks have been added. Pretty much every Google Android app known to man has been pre-installed and you can’t delete any of them. The good news is that the OS runs smoothly and it will be easier for HTC/T-Mobile to bust out Android updates since it’s almost the stock version.

Android 2.2 is a nice step up from 2.1. The interface is smoother and features clever tweaks (I love how easy it is to switch between Gmail accounts in 2.2). The JIT compiler makes everything much, much faster. Although skins like HTC Sense and Samsung TouchWiz 3.0 add some nice usability features, most of them are not worth having to wait longer for Android updates.

As for performance, the G2 reminds me of WWE NXT season two’s Husky Harris — an army tank with a Ferrari engine. As you can see from the benchmarks I took, the phone flies. Some people were turned off by the phone’s “only” 800MHz processor — don’t believe the hype! It’s a newer version of Snapdragon that’s faster and more efficient. In real-world testing, it’s noticeably faster than the Samsung Fascinate running Android 2.1 (1GHz Hummingbird) and the HTC Nexus One running Android 2.2 (1GHz Snapdragon, first-gen) — apps launch faster, scrolling is smoother, etc.

Battery Life
This was the biggest and most pleasant surprise using the T-Mobile G2: the battery life rocks! The combination of a smaller screen (3.7 inches) and a more efficient processor really lets the phone last throughout the day. Using the G2 for the last week with my typical nerd usage (lots of browsing, tweeting, Foursquare check-ins, email, maps, etc.), I averaged 16.5 hours on the G2’s 1,300 mAh battery. There were even two days where I hit over 17 hours! Out of all the Android phones I’ve reviewed in 2010, the G2 has the best battery life by far.

Next Up….
That’s it for the first part of my T-Mobile G2 review. The next installment will cover the phone’s screen, HSPA+ speeds, voice quality, camera, and more. As always, if you have any questions about the phone, ask away!

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Author: RPadTV