The T-Mobile G2 Previewby Vivek Gowri on October 7, 2010 12:29 PM EST
Before I actually get to the hinges, let me say that I’m a fan of HTC’s design and engineering team. They put out some of the most consistently well engineered mobile devices, and I’m struggling to remember the last time I was disappointed by the design or build quality of an HTC phone. Whether Windows Mobile or Android, HTC has generally been on top as far as build quality and design goes. Just look at the EVO, the HD2, the Incredible, the Nexus One, or the new Desire HD to see what I mean.
For the most part, the G2 is pretty great and up to the same HTC standard. The top half of the device is mostly constructed of an anodized aluminum, with the bottom edge being done in soft touch plastic. The same soft touch plastic is the primary material for the bottom half of the device, surrounding the keyboard and battery cover. The battery cover itself is rendered in brushed aluminum, with HTC and G2 logos etched in. The entire package is very solid as expected, and the level of attention to detail paid here is so high that there’s even a spring-loaded release switch for the battery door. This is stuff that normal handset makers don’t even dream about (Samsung, I’m looking straight at you. I was certain that the Fascinate’s back cover was going to snap the one time I tried to take it off). HTC's usual attention to design makes that “Z” hinge all the more perplexing.
Note the usage of the word hinge. Most landscape QWERTY devices use a slider - pretty simple stuff, just a set of rails on the back side of the screen and a set of protruding runners above the keyboard. You might find a spring attached to make the motion of the screen smoother and ensure the screen stays open or closed, though this depends on how much space there is (for example, the super-thin Droid and Droid 2 forgo the spring-loaded mechanism). Now the G1 had a funky, curved hinge that basically acted as a slider, since the motion was in the same plane as the screen (there was also an arced track/runner system on the left side of the device.) This time around though, HTC has one upped themselves and made that hinge act perpendicularly to the plane of the screen.
What this means is that instead of a curved slider like the G1, the G2’s screen actually travels in a semicircular arc in the process of “sliding” up, hoisting itself above the body and then coming back down to reveal the keyboard. It’s a pretty neat trick, seeing the screen a centimeter above the body, until it hits you - the only thing holding the screen and the body together at that point are three plastic posts that are about 1 mm^2 in cross sectional area, and an exposed ribbon cable. Oh God.
What makes this even more concerning is that HTC is having some early run quality control issues with the G2. Among the laundry list of common issues is that on some devices, the hinges are loose. For example, if one were to hold the phone upside down, the screen would fall open. As luck would have it, my unit was one of them. The looseness of the springs and the overall lifelessness of the mechanism probably is contributing to my paranoia about the hinges, but I have played with another G2 that did have properly working hinges and while the hinge did feel more robust, it certainly did not feel sturdy. I’d be interested to see how much fatigue testing HTC did before finalizing this hinge design for production, since the “pop hinge” (their term, not mine) seems like a pretty large Achilles’ heel for an otherwise excellent design.
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alephxero - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkWhich port of Quake 3 is it that you used in the test?
vol7ron - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkCould you also include the G1 "Physical Comparsion" statistisics for comparison?
crazzeto - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkThe last time I was dissapointed by an HTC device. The Verizon Wireless VX6800 wasn't very good, honestly it felt cheap from the get go. I did eventually have a partial fail of the slider hardware (half of it came off, for no apparent reason).
More recent HTC devices seem better perhaps, but the VX6800 convinced me to go Motorola for my droid and honestly, I'm incredibly glad I did!
Dark Legion - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkWhy isn't the droid incredible running 2.2? The benchmarks make it look a lot worse when it should be on par with the evo and n1.
fausto412 - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linki guess i can blame the iphone reviews for opening the gate,.
is pc hardware that dead these days?
can we get an update on HTPC building and cable card compatibility? would like to learn more about that.
what about new monitor technology and how it compares to the old TN technology?
what about a high end gaming mouse review and round up that takes into accounts software support included and new features? g9x, cyborg, g500.
there is stuff to cover in pc realm. can get get back it?
metafor - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkThe phone market is exploding while the PC market isn't seeing much growth. There also really haven't been much in the way of innovation on the PC side for quite a while now.
Myrandex - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkThe keyboard is surprisingly familiar to the Touch Pro 2's (superior to every other keybaord I've tried) keyboard, I do feel the need that with the space of such a large screen, another row of keys would have been nice to get a dedicated row of number keys across the top.
The hinging mechanism is definitely interesting though!
NguyenAdam - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkIs this phone SIM free? I would love to use it on AT&T.
Roland00 - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkif you do so the phone will just reload the OS from an included rom chip. Is this true?
phoenix79 - Thursday, October 7, 2010 - linkAm I the only one that's noticing some pretty blatant errors in this article? First is the virtual keyboard, mine came with Swype installed alongside the stock one and enabled by default. As for the 2GB of memory, 5 minutes of googling and you would find out that the phones physically have a 4GB chip in them, this has been known for days.
It seems that the fact-checking here has gotten considerably worse as of late...