T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

Not only does the T-Mobile G2/HTC Magic/Google Ion phone improve on original T-Mobile G1 in just about every way, it manages to do it while cutting down significantly on the size. The only thing it doesn't have going for it is a hardware keyboard.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

Note: This isn't technically the G2 since it hasn't been officially released here yet, but the T-Mobile G2 will have the same hardware and the same software—the same, essentially, as the HTC Magic in Europe—so this is as close to the G2 as you're going to get until T-Mo ships their own.

Hardware:
Let me repeat that nationally-televised ad and get this out of the way first: The screen is still fantastic. If you place the G1 and the G2 side by side, the G2 has a more blue-ish tint while the G1 is more purple. The G2 produces whiter whites than the G1. It doesn't seem any brighter—it's just nicer.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

The generously curved shell is thicker than the iPhone, but less wide, which actually makes it feel better in the hand. It weighs 4.09 ounces compared to the G1's 5.60 ounces, but somehow manages to feel even lighter, like half as heavy. That curved chin that caused such a nuisance when typing on the G1 is no longer a problem, due to the fact that there's no actual slide-out hardware keyboard. Face buttons are now smaller and shiny and raised, which makes them easier to locate and press. There's also one extra button: Search. This pops up a context-related search menu for apps like contacts, email and the browser.

It's also improved internally. A2DP Bluetooth stereo support comes standard (it was enabled for the G1 in the 1.5 Cupcake update), and the slimmer body houses a 1340mAh battery (the G1 had a meager 1150mAh pack). A battery test is coming later, but HTC's specs rate this as 400 minutes talk time compared to 350 for the G1.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

The camera is the same 3.2-megapixel, and as of the 1.5 update, both the G1 and the G2 can both record video adequately. Not great, just adequate. Still pictures are as passable as the G1's in sunlight, and still not great in low light.

What you'll feel most often is the increased ROM and RAM: 512MB and 288MB, respectively. The beefed up hardware makes a noticeable difference in speed when launching and using apps.

Unfortunately, there's still no 3.5mm headphone jack, and you still need to use an adapter if you want to use your own headphones. The microSD memory slot is also hidden underneath the back battery cover, but thankfully not underneath the battery itself.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

The hardware has been improved in just about every respect, minus the fact that you no longer have a physical keyboard to bang out emails and texts quickly. But fortunately the software keyboard actually makes the loss bearable.

Software
The G2 comes with the same Android 1.5 OS that just rolled out to G1s—the same update we've been tracking over and over through its long development cycle—so none of this will be a huge surprise. The key difference is that you have to use the software keyboard now.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

Also, instead of switching to and from landscape view when the keyboard is extended, the G2 uses the accelerometer to detect transitions. It works well, and uses a fade-out fade-in effect. It's not a speedy transition, but it's not too slow either. And the landscape keyboard works in all the apps and all the fields we tested.

But the keyboard itself? It falls just slightly short of the iPhone's. Like the iPhone (and the G1), it's got a capacitive screen. Pressing a key makes the key pop up above, so you can see what you're typing. Google thankfully decided against the goofy other-side-of-the-keyboard solution they had before.

Although the letter recognition is accurate, and is intuitive if you've ever typed on an iPhone, it just needs its sensitivity cranked up another 20%. Occasionally you'll press a key and the phone will sit there staring back at you blankly. More often than not it's the space key that refuses to detect, makingyourwordsruntogether. This mostly happens when you type really fast, so it seems like the hardware isn't quite fast enough to keep up with your taps.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved Award

What's nice is that the phone displays multiple word guesses (like so many other phones) for autocomplete, which may save you key presses on longer words. And as far as we can tell from blasting out a bunch of emails and texts from it, the dictionary is quite accurate at detecting what you're typing.

It's still no hardware keyboard, but it's at least as good as typing on the iPhone, with the slightly worse sensitivity (and thus slower typing speeds) being made up for by the better auto-complete.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved AwardS

Verdict
Although the T-Mobile G2/Google Ion/HTC Magic has still has its flaws, it's essentially better than the G1 in every way. It's lighter, faster, better and supposedly lasts longer on a charge. Unless you absolutely need to have a hardware keyboard for massive text entry, there's no real reason why Android seekers shouldn't get the G2 when it debuts on T-Mobile soon.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved Award

It's lighter, thinner and faster than the G1

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved Award

Software keyboard actually works

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved Award

No more physical keyboard

T-Mobile myTouch 3G (Google Ion) Review: Most Improved Award

Exactly the same OS as the G1, so there's not a lot of reason to upgrade if you already own the predecessor