Jonathan Takiff: A good picture

takes sharp images.
takes sharp images. (The myTouch 4G Slide camera)
Posted: July 27, 2011

THE GIZMO: T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide.

PICTURE PERFECT: Can you hear the camera makers groaning? Photo capturing in smartphones has gotten so good it's hard to rationalize carrying a dedicated point-and-shooter.

Take the new HTC-made myTouch 4G Slide camera - er, smartphone that T-Mobile is introducing today at $199.99 with a two-year service commitment.

It has an 8-megapixel image sensor, a level of resolution so fine you don't even need to get that close to your subject.

Just crop the photo - as we've done to illustrate this column - and the image still looks sharp.

MyTouch 4G Slide takes fine shots inside and at night, without activating its dual LED flash.

And jumps out of the pack with "Zero Shutter Lag," accomplished by first half-depressing the dedicated shutter button to focus. Auto Face Detection helps.

THERE'S MORE: BurstShot fires off five rapid shots. SweepShot, previously seen only in dedicated still shooters, captures an ultrawide panoramic image.

The myTouch 4G Slide also makes 1080p high-definition videos. Replay clips wirelessly on a big-screen TV equipped with a "DNLA" network interface.

IN THE CHIPS: Ironically, seasoned camera makers are supplying the imaging chips for these latest, greatest mobile phones.

Samsung is making both 8- and 12-megapixel versions. Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer recently let slip that his company is supplying the camera component (believed to be an 8-megapixel) for the next iPhone, due in a few weeks.

OTHER TOUCHES: One feature on the T-Mobile/HTC phone that you won't enjoy in the iPhone 5 is superfast 4G network connectivity, made possible by the 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm SnapDragon MSM8655 processor.

The thicker chip runs counter to Apple's "thinner phones are cooler" philosophy.

But an Android 2.3 phone like the myTouch - with slide-out keyboard and 3.7-inch touch screen - is just a half-inch thick and 6.5 ounces.

Running on a 4G network (where available) does take its toll in faster battery depletion. A slimmer and more energy-efficent SnapDragon MSM8960 should improve matters for phone makers in mid-2012.

BOTTOM LINE: T-Mobile also competes well on pricing, starting with a slightly misnamed "Unlimited Plus" monthly plan for minutes, text and data at $49.99.

The fine print limits minutes to 500 and data streams at high speed for only the first 2GB - plenty, if you're not working the Netflix app.

T-Mobile's exclusive phone plans also save $$$.

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