2011 Complete Guide to 4G Mobile Phones in the US: T-Mobile Edition, with Samsung Exhibit II, HTC Amaze and Radar, more

Introduction

The word "4G" was brandied about by the major and minor mobile carriers in the US as if it is some sort of talisman to ward off competitors. Frankly, the term '4G' had lost its meaning when ITU allowed it to be neutered and downgraded. However, what we got is what we go, so here is a guide to what is available on each network, and how the phones stack up.

Find out why the term 4G had been neutered and what it was supposed to mean

This guide will discuss T-Mobile, one of the first companies to push their 3.5G as "4G". Stay tuned for guides covering the other carriers, such as

Let's get started with the first carrier to claim their 3.5G network is 4G...

NOTE: Prices named are always subject to change

Updated 26-OCT-2011: added Samsung Exhibit II 4G, HTC Radar 4G, HTC Amaze 4G, Samsung Galaxy S2 4G, removed obsolete entries, general updates

T-Mobile Logo
T-Mobile Logo

New "Value Plans" still offers unlimited data

T-Mobile announced new "value plans" that offers unlimited data, call, and text for one low price. You can even choose to "layaway" your phone if you prefer NOT to weigh yourself down with a contract. See Engadget article and the related T-Mobile Press Release

T-Mobile: First to Dubious "4G" claim

T-Mobile is the first 3G carrier to market their HSPA+ (3.5G) service as "4G", claiming their HSPA+ is as fast or faster than Sprint's WiMAX "4G". The actual speed varies, T-Mobile claims they will finish deploying HSPA+ 21 to entire nation by end of 2011, and already covers 200 million people (as per their website). Here's what HSPA actually means:

  • HSPA -- theoretical maximum throughput 14 Mbit/s down and 5.76 Mbit/s up
  • HSPA+ 21 -- theoretical maximum throughput 21 Mbit/s downlink
  • HSPA+ 42 -- theoretical maximum throughput 42 Mbit/s downlink

T-Mobile have HSPA+ 21 for now, and claim to have rolled out HSPA+42 at 56 different markets, and HSPA+42 phones have hit the market.

T-Mobile is the first to push video chat capabilities over their phone. Furthermore, most of their smartphones are "WiFi Calling" compatible, meaning they can send phone signals over WiFi instead of through cell towers if they can log into local WiFi networks. This both saves airtime minutes and provides better call quality.

T-Mobile has no less than 8 different "4G Phones" available, more if you count the color variations as well. The following "4G" phones (actually HSPA+ phones) are available on T-Mobile:

  • Samsung Exhibit II 4G -- slightly faster CPU and refresh
  • T-Mobile MyTouch 4G (made by HTC) -- front-facing camera, 1 GHz CPU
  • T-Mobile Sidekick 4G (made by LG?) -- front-facing camera, 1 GHz CPU, hard keyboard
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 4G -- HSPA+42, 1.5 GHz dual-core
  • T-Mobile G2x with Google -- dual-core 1 GHz CPU, 1.3 MP front cam, 1080p video cam
  • T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide -- hard keyboard, dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, front-facing camera, FM radio
  • HTC Radar 4G -- Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), coming soon
  • HTC Amaze 4G -- dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, front-facing cam, 4.3 Inch screen, HSPA+42
  • Blackberry Bold 9900 4G
  • T-Mobile MyTouch Q 4G (coming soon)

These phones have been replaced...

  • Samsung Galaxy S 4G -- replaced by Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Exhibit 4G -- replaced by Samsung Exhibit II
  • HTC Sensation 4G -- replaced by HTC Amaze 4G

So let's get started...

NOTE: All prices are OFFICIAL Carrier Prices. Online retailer prices can be different and are often $50 or more lower. Check Wirefly or Amazon Wireless for discounts before committing.


Samsung Exhibit II 4G, T-Mobile's entry-level 4G phone
Samsung Exhibit II 4G, T-Mobile's entry-level 4G phone | Source

Samsung Exhibit II 4G: mid-low Android phone

Features:

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 3 MP back camera, VGA front camera
  • 3.7 Inch screen
  • $29.99 w/ 2 year contract (after mail-in rebate)

The Exhibit II, which came out merely 4 months after the original Exhibit, really has no special features. The Front camera is VGA only, and the rest is so average and vanilla it's boring. In fact, its back camera is only 3 MP.

The best feature? Low price. It's so low in price, it's being launched in Walmart. Yes, Walmart.

If you want to jump into Android world, at a good price, this is not a bad place to start. However, there are better phones available for the price (albeit, not on T-Mobile).


T-Mobile myTouch 4G
T-Mobile myTouch 4G | Source

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G: good, but not great

Features:

  • 3.8 Inch screen
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 5MP back camera, VGA Front camera
  • 720p HD camcorder
  • $99.99 w/ 2 year contract (after $50 mail-in rebate)

Known as the HTC Panache in the rest of the world, this phone used to be the top of line for T-Mobile, but had since been eclipsed by the dual-core phones.

Available in 2 colors, this is one of the first T-Mobile phones built for live video chats, with front and back cameras. Furthermore, it can do video chat with just 3G, unlike Apple iPhone 4's "Facetime", which is WiFi only. The HD camcorder can record in 720p, and directly stream contents to DLNA compatible devices (including computers, TVs, and more).

Still a viable phone, though it is showing its age.


T-Mobile Sidekick 4G (by Samsung), the Sidekick is back, now Android-powered!
T-Mobile Sidekick 4G (by Samsung), the Sidekick is back, now Android-powered! | Source

T-Mobile Sidekick 4G: the only physical keyboard for now

Features

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 3.5 inch screen
  • 3MP back camera, VGA front camera
  • 5-row physical keyboard
  • Unique Sidekick look and feel
  • $79.99 (with 2 year contract) NOTE: Special sale may go lower!

Sidekick was one of the best messaging phones around. First launched in 2002, Sidekick is one of the first phones with a slide-out screen and physical keyboard, with full e-mail capability. It was featured in a Jay Z music video, and it took off from there. However, the brand, owned by T-Mobile, went out with a whimper in 2009 when onslaught of smartphones and lack of research and development prevented them from keeping up. In 2011, T-Mobile contracted Samsung to make a new generation of Sidekick, with the familiar form factor, but with latest Android guts, and the result is Sidekick 4G.

This is the only 4G phone on T-Mobile with a physical keyboard, and it is a GREAT keyboard. The keys have big gaps between them so you can't mash more than one at a time. There are dedicated keys for emoticons, @ sign, voice activation, and more. PC Magazine called it one of best 10 mobile phone keyboards available.

Its other features includes TV-Out (with optional cable), and panorama mode.

Weakness? Only 3MP back camera. It's basically a Galaxy S in a different package.

If you do a LOT of texting, or insist on a hardware keyboard, this is definitely your best choice. However, its weak camera may be an issue for some.


Samsung Galaxy S 4G, relatively average "4G" Android phone
Samsung Galaxy S 4G, relatively average "4G" Android phone | Source

Samsung Galaxy S 4G

Features:

  • 4 inch Super AMOLED screen
  • 5MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera
  • HD Camcorder
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • $99.99 w/ 2 year contract after $50 mail-in rebate

Galaxy S 4G is T-Mobile's HSPA+ version of the phone that had been launched in South Korea many months ago. This phone retained the original name, and it's actually no longer state of the art (that'd be the next version, the Galaxy S II).


LG Doubleplay, a relative of LG Optimus, with a secondary screen between the two halves of the keyboard for task switching
LG Doubleplay, a relative of LG Optimus, with a secondary screen between the two halves of the keyboard for task switching | Source

LG Doubleplay

Features:

  • 4 inch screen, with a secondary screen
  • Physical slide-out keyboard
  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 5 MP back camera and VGA front camera
  • $99 w/ 2 year contract (after $50 mail-in rebate)

LG Doubleplay seem to be inspired by Samsung Continuum, which has a second small one-line "ticker display" below the main screen. This one fits a half-sized screen between the two-halves of the keyboard for task-switching.

HTC Sensation 4G, the most powerful phone on T-Mobile right now, dual-core CPU and hi-res screen.
HTC Sensation 4G, the most powerful phone on T-Mobile right now, dual-core CPU and hi-res screen. | Source

HTC Sensation 4G

Features:

  • 4.3 inch qHD (950x540) screen
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU
  • 8 MP back camera and VGA front camera
  • 1080p camcorder
  • $199 w/ 2 year contract (after $50 mail-in rebate)

HTC Sensation is the top-of-the-line camera for T-Mobile right now, with the largest and highest density screen (Most phones are about 800x480) and fastest CPU available in Android phones thus far. It can also do 1080p camcorder.

Other than better specs, it really has no special features. T-Mobile put in some video streaming apps HTC Watch (for movies) and T-Mobile TV (for TV shows) to make them more enticing.

NOTE: Sensation was replaced with Amaze, which is basically same phone repackaged with better camera with HSPA+42.


T-Mobile G2x (by LG), dual-core 1 GHz CPU and Tegra 2 video chipset
T-Mobile G2x (by LG), dual-core 1 GHz CPU and Tegra 2 video chipset | Source

T-Mobile G2x: great game machine

Features:

  • 4 inch screen with Gorilla Glass
  • Dual-core 1 GHz CPU
  • 8 MP back camera and 1.3 MP front camera
  • NVIDIA Tegra 2 video chipset
  • DLNA / microHDMI out
  • $99.99 w/ 2 year contract (after $50 mail in rebate)

T-Mobile G2x was built by LG and features some very impressive specs, esp. the video subsystem by NVIDIA. Dual-core CPU is great, and the excellent video chipset means this is a great portable game machine. However, it doesn't compare to Sony's PSP Phone in that regard. In fact, it doesn't even quite compare with the other 4G phone, the HTC Sensation 4G, which features even faster CPU but no special video chipset.


T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide, 4-row physical keyboard, dual 1.2 GHz screen
T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide, 4-row physical keyboard, dual 1.2 GHz screen | Source

T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide: flagship

Features:

  • physical keyboard (4-row only)
  • Dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU
  • 8MP back, unknown front camera
  • FM Radio
  • advanced software camera (HDR, burst mode, panorama mode, and more)
  • $199.99 (or so) with 2 year contract (mail in rebate may be needed)

Otherwise known as HTC Doubleshot in the rest of the world, the MyTouch 4G Slide has been released and is the new king-of-the-hill for T-Mobile.

What I don't like about the phone is the 4-row physical keyboard. The Sidekick 4G has a much better keyboard, so all you gain from this is a better camera, and dual core CPU.


HTC Radar 4G: Windows Phone 7.5

Microsoft's mobile phone was a bit late to catch up, but the latest phone is actually quite competitive, esp. when it's customized a bit by HTC.

The phone will be released on November 2nd, 2011, and will likely be $99.99, after $50 mail-in rebate with 2-year commitment. Features are a bit iffy, but it should be a 3.8 Inch screen and 1 GHz CPU.

Stay tuned!

Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, huge screen, thin, fast...
Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, huge screen, thin, fast... | Source

Samsung Galaxy S II 4G: good!

Features

  • 4.52 inch Super AMOLED screen
  • 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera
  • HD Camcorder
  • Dual core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon CPU
  • HSPA+42 capable now
  • $229.99 w/ 2 year contract

Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, which replaced the original Galaxy S, is now at the top of the food chain at T-Mobile, with top-tier specs and competes with HTC Amaze 4G for the top spot. The T-Mobile MyTouch 4G Slide got bumped off the top very quickly.


HTC Amaze 4G, a better Sensation, now HSPA+42 and camera from DoubleShot
HTC Amaze 4G, a better Sensation, now HSPA+42 and camera from DoubleShot | Source

HTC Amaze 4G: A better Sensation?

HTC Amaze 4G is a repackaged Sensation 4G, now with HSPA+42 support, improved camera, but otherwise, not that different from the Sensation.

Features:

Features

  • 4.3 inch Super AMOLED screen
  • 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera
  • 1080p HD Camcorder
  • Dual core CPU
  • FM Radio
  • HSPA+42 capable now
  • $259.99 w/ 2 year contract (after $50 mail-in rebate)

See

http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/15/htc-amaze-4g-review/

Blackberry Bold 9900 4G

T-Mobile have added the Blackberry Bold 9900 4G to their lineup. It is your normal BB Bold, albeit with HSPA+ support.

T-Mobile MyTouch Q

Appears to be a customized version of LG Optimus line, with mid-pack specs (3.8 inch screen, 1 GHz CPU, 5 MP camera) this appears to be for the mid / low end market. No detailed specs are currently available.

Expected price is $49 after mail-in rebate.

Conclusion

T-Mobile has a lot of phones in their 4G lineup, from the very cheap (under $100) to expensive (almost $300) even with 2-year contracts. It does offer something for everyone. However, the "top of the line" phone seem to be a bit confusing, with no clear "flagship" product.


More by this Author


3 comments

Ryan Floyd profile image

Ryan Floyd 5 years ago

Good hub - I am still a big fan of my Nexus S which is a pretty good value. You can see the hub here http://hubpages.com/technology/Moving-to-Android-N...


kschang profile image

kschang 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA, USA Author

@Ryan Floyd -- but Nexus S is not 4G... :-)


Ryan Floyd profile image

Ryan Floyd 5 years ago

You are right - but it still rocks. I use it to tether my laptop and it works great so long as I get a signal with Tmo. I am sure 4G would be even better but I am not sure the network is built out enough that I would see much of a difference today on Tmo - maybe with Verizon. I like the clean Android install on the Nexus. That is worth a lot to me.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working