2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2012
I've been a life-long BB smartphone user, and always had the latest BB flagship device. However, after "upgrading" to the Bold 9900 as soon as it was introduced last Fall 2011, I experienced many software glitches, frequent "stalls" (where the spinning little clock tells you that the processor simply can't keep up with what you're trying to do with your phone), and mysterious and spontaneous power cycling on/offs. Even after T-Mobile exchanged my new 9900 for a another "new" 9900, the same symptoms started happening again after a few months. And, I still stuck with my 9900 because I loved the Blackberry QWERTY keyboard.
But, I'm done with it. After accidentally going swimming with my 9900 in my pocket, I decided that this was my opportunity to finally try a "modern" device. And, I have no regrets....yes, I miss BB's QWERTY keyboard, but the "swipe" feature on my HTC Amaze is not bad at all...as a matter of fact, it's one of the main reasons I chose the Android device over the iPhone. In short, I highly recommend this device. Even though it cost me $600 (because I didn't have insurance), but the Bold also retails for $600, so it was a no-brainer to switch devices. I'm a very heavy email user, and Active Sync on this Android device works just as well as the BB Enterprise Server (at least from what I can tell); the only advantage BB has over other devices/operating systems is when you travel overseas...T-Mobile/BB offers an "Unlimited BB email" feature for $29/month, which is unbeatable. For Android devices, T-Mobile charges $15/mg while travelling overseas, which can result in very high bills, especially if/when you send/receive emails with large attachments. Plus, now that i have a modern device with a 4" screen, i find myself enjoying surfing the net on my mobile device. People complain about the battery draining extra fast, but it's on par (if not better) than my BB. All in all, I have no regrets, and highly recommend this phone.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
So T-Mobile sent me this phone, and I've been happily using it for about a month now, and I figured it's time to start yakking about it. It's an Amaze(tm) 4G manufactured by HTC. Some may know it by its HTC production name, the Ruby. Either way, it's a stunning phone, and as I've found over the past several weeks, it ROCKS! Let me tell you the ways...
But before we get into it, let me give you a bit of back story. A few months ago, the Emerging Media Manager for T-Mobile, along with their public relations company, Big Fuel, asked me to be a part of T-Mobilizer, their consumer-driven Emerging Media group. The idea is that, as a loyal T-Mobile subscriber and active member of the T-Mobile consumer support community, T-Mobile is giving a bit back by giving me access to some of their cool new products. While it's not required, I'm encouraged to share my thoughts about the products that they send and T-Mobile in genaral. See my previous post here for more details.
So, after nearly 2 years of working my stout old Fender MyTouch 3G, T-Mobile sent me a shiny new and pretty Amaze 4G to play with. Now that I've got some experience with it under my belt, I feel that it's time to share my thoughts with all of you (which I hope will make Mr. Elliott a happy man).
*The AMAZE-ing Story*
Around the first week of November, I receive my new Amaze 4G (well, not mine, it's only a loan). I'm like a kid loose in a candy store.
Okay, my first thought after opening the box? This thing is GORGEOUS!! Very clean lines without looking like it was built by shaving down a black plastic brick. The back has a nice aluminum look (although I learned later that it's just painted plastic) with a rubberized overlay on the top and bottom that looks great and helps you grip the phone (I've heard that the white model has smooth panels where the black is rubberized...a minus in the white's column in my book). I love the look.
Second thought...the screen is enormous. This phone is big, probably about as large as you'd want to get for something that sits in the palm of your hand. The nice thing is that the screen fills almost all of the phone's face. There is a little slice taken off the top for the speaker, notification LED, and front camera, and a slice off the bottom for the navigation buttons, but otherwise it's all screen. More on that later.
Third thought...this phone is a bit on the heavy side. Not like it's made of gold heavy, but it's got some heft. Maybe about the same weight as an apple. Now, before you start thinking of this as a negative, consider this...this phone has fantastic feel. Think about driving a car. Do you prefer a car that feels like you're driving a sponge down the road, where even small boulders don't even give the steering wheel a shiver, or do you prefer a car with a wheel that lets you feel the size, shape, and consistency of that tiny pebble that you just ran over? If the former, then this phone isn't for you. Look at the Samsung Galaxy S2 instead (great phone, lighter feel). But, if you like something that says, "Hey, I'm here, FEEL me!", then the Amaze 4G is a Godsend. It still sits nicely in my pocket, and I can hold it for an hour reading a book, but it just feels...well...substantial, like something built for quality.
So, I get it unpacked and set up with the new SIM card (you need it to use the recently enabled WiFi calling), fully charged, and boot it up. Boy oh boy, what a beautiful screen. This puppy is full 960x540 pixel qHD equipped, and that means huge, tight, sparkling digital goodness for your eyes to feast on. I'll grant that the SGS2 is a bit brighter and the colors are a tiny bit punchier, but the screen on the Amaze 4G is, for me at least, more elegant and less "cartoony" than the Sammy. No diss on the GS2's screen. It's beautiful too. I just prefer the more realistic and cleaner look of the Amaze's screen.
Booted up and registered (took a couple of hours for the new SIM to register with my number), I start to play. This phone comes stock with the HTC Sense 3.0 as a launcher. It's pretty nifty, and comes with some great preloads like Netflix, the Google suite (except for Google Plus, which you can download from the Market), Lookout security, T-Mobile TV HD, and qik Video Chat (for 2-way video chats). Of course you can load up on other apps as well, and I'll discuss a few that I like in a moment. It also comes with some preloads that I'm not really keen on, and unfortunately they can not be removed without rooting the phone WHICH YOU SHOULD NOT DO! That is, unless you really really really really really really know what you're doing, and are ready to accept a total loss of operation of your brand new $500+ investment. So, you're stuck with the shovelware that you don't like, but luckily you don't have to use them, and they don't seem to cause problems with the phone if you just ignore them.
HTC Sense. It's the whizzy, bangy, nifty launcher that the Amaze 4G comes with. It's very slick, gives you lots of options for widgets and looks, but from what I've read, and what I've seen on this phone, it comes with a cost in battery life. I opted for a little different launcher that I downloaded from the Market. Just like the differences between the Amaze and the SGS2, your mileage may vary. This highlights one of the beauties of Android phones like the Amaze 4G and the SGS2, that being the availability of choice. If you don't like the launcher, change it. If you don't like that launcher, change it again. It's all up to you, and not up to some drone in a fruit-based electronic device development hive.
Okay, so now I've had it for well over a month (almost two, actually). What are my impressions? Let's discuss.
I still love the phone. It will be a sad day when I have to send it back. I've become quite comfortable with its size and feel, and the operation has been flawless. Big happies to HTC and T-Mobile overall. Here are some of the things that I love about this phone:
I'm still impressed with the quality of this phone. It's solid! Heavy, yes, but I think that is partly due to the fact that it is a rock-solid piece of engineering. Everything fits precisely, and the back has a satisfying "click" when it closes. I've used the phone without a screen protector in place, and it's held up beautifully (it's supposedly made of some analog to Gorilla Glass, and it seems to be just as durable and functional). The hardware buttons have a very positive feel, and you can tell by touch when they've bottomed out. No squeaks or mushy feel when pressed. Overall, this seems to be a very solid piece of equipment.
One thing that I would like to note though is that I do have the black model, which has a rubbery material on half of the back panel. Given the phone's weight, I'm very glad for this grippy surface, and the white version, which is a smooth plastic finish, may be a bit more difficulty to handle. I'd recommend sticking with the black version unless you're really into white for fashion reasons.
Call sound quality is beautiful. I've not had difficulty hearing people on the other end (in fact I've had to turn down the volume from time to time), and the Bluetooth connection seems to work well with my Plantronics stereo headset. I've not had any issues with people hearing me on the other end either. Quality also remains high when using wifi calling (recently enabled) for those times when you're outside of T-Mobile's signal range but within a wifi hotspot.
All I can say is, wow! This is one beautiful screen. I noted above that the SGS2 seems to be a bit brighter and punchier, but the Amaze 4G screen is plenty bright. The colors are, in my humble opinion, very well saturated and rich, without looking like they were painted in a cartoon cel. The resolution is the kicker though. There isn't a phone out there that beats it, and it really shows. Viewing a Netflix video or something off your media server is just so clean and clear. Some people are bothered by the light bleed from the buttons (the light from the soft buttons at the bottom of the screen can bleed into the main screen), but I don't find it to be too annoying, and I believe that there's an app on the Market to shut off the button illumination if it's really a problem for you. I'd much rather have this delicious resolution than worry about how black the blacks are.
This is one of the real standout items of this phone. The camera is phenomenal! Resolution is amazing with the 8MPx rear-facing camera, and it's really not too bad with the 2MPx front camera either. Low light shooting is fairly nice, especially with the built-in twin LED flash (only for the rear camera). The thing that really blew me away though was the way it handles contrast. I'm used to cellphone cameras really blowing out highlights and blocking up the shadows. They are also notorious for bleeding light over from bright areas into dimmer areas. The Amaze 4G shows none of these drawbacks. It also boots up and is ready to shoot immediately.
Another cool feature of this camera is actually on the app side. It provides you with several effects options that are very useful. One of my favorites is SweepShot. It's a panorama setting that lets you shoot about a 90 degree pano shot by sweeping the camera while the shutter is open. The software then stitches the shot together into a wide pano shot. It really is pretty neat! There is also SmartShot that lets you capture a series of photos of people, and it combines them into a "best of all worlds" shot. Great for eliminating the old "I blinked!" disaster that can ruin a group shot. There is also a burst-shot setting, great for action shots, ClearShot HDR that helps in high-contrast situations, Portrait to set off a subject with a soft background, and several other options. I have to admit that I haven't even tried them all yet.
All in all, considering image quality, features, and ease of use, it really is an outstanding camera for a phone camera, and would even shame a few purpose-built digital snappers that I've seen!
The built-in video isn't too bad, and can shoot up to 1080p (1920x1080) resolution on the rear-facing camera (limited to SD on the front camera), which is the current high standard for HD video. The video is nice and clear, without any noticeable stutter or motion blur except in very low-light situations. There are some nice features too, such as the ability to turn on the camera's flash LEDs as movie lights in low-light situations.
However, the audio leaves a bit to be desired. It's not a complete disaster, but I had higher hopes for audio quality given the quality that the rest of the phone exhibits. It's possible that we'll see an improvement with future firmware updates. In the mean time, I wouldn't replace a decent quality purpose-built HD camera with this unit just yet. It's nice for those spur of the moment shots, but don't count on it for high quality stuff.
This is something that is extremely cool, and something that you have to experience to see just how cool it is. The Amaze 4G has two dedicated buttons along the right side of the phone (when held vertically). The smaller button activates the video camera, and the larger one activates the still camera. They both double as the shutter/record buttons. Why so cool? When's the last time you've fumbled around, opening up the camera app, finding the shutter soft-button, only to see the picture opportunity fade before you're ready? This gets you ready to shoot in an instant. Believe me, once you've had this feature, you'll cry if you lose it.
Overall, these are some great features, and have helped make my experience with the Amaze 4G a very good one. However, there are a negatives that I'd like to point out:
I hate soft buttons. This isn't an issue that is specific to this phone, and I fear that, because it's cheaper, all phones going forward will have soft buttons rather than physical buttons. However, I find myself constantly brushing the buttons accidentally, closing windows that I'm typing in, deleting email, jumping to the home screen in the middle of some other activity, etc. This happens most often when I'm one-handing it, reaching with my thumb to drop down the notification window and end up palming the Home button accidentally. Very annoying.
The touchscreen on the Amaze 4G is extremely sensitive. In fact, I've noticed several times that the screen has responded without my actually touching it. Typos waiting to happen! This is especially annoying when you consider the soft button issue that I noted above. I haven't tried this phone with a screen protector yet, and that may eliminate the issue, but I don't recall any difference between a protected and non-protected screen on other touchscreen devices, so I think that this is a flaw that won't go away. I'd suggest that HTC dial down the sensitivity a bit.
The USB connector on the phone is a brand new style. It's not the old Mini-B connector, nor the Micro-B connector that some more recent phones have. The connector that the Amaze 4G uses is a funky little adaptation of the Micro-A connector with an extra channel down one side. While the manufacturer and T-Mobile indicate that a Micro-B connector will work, function is often sketchy, and you find yourself tinkering with the phone to get it into just the right orientation to keep the cable connected. I will say that the new connector is inordinately stable, and feels much more solid than the Micro-B connector that my wife uses in her MyTouch 4G, but I haven't yet found where to buy any aftermarket cables, so would be forced to purchase a T-Mobile branded cable to ensure compatibility. Not sure that's a good move, given that the biggest competitor of Android phones is also notorious for forcing esoteric configurations on their users, to their detriment. However, it works well when used correctly, and you can always do the Micro-B route in a pinch.
So these are my impressions so far. Would I trade it in for anything else out on T-Mobile now? Not willingly. It's an outstanding phone and digital assistant. T-Mobile's 4G speeds are outstanding, and I'm still exploring some of the phone's incredible array of features. The rumored Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade in the next few months only makes it more attractive to me. There are plenty of other fantastic phones out there, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Nexus (soon to come to T-Mobile, I hope!), but I'm very happy with my decision to go with the Amaze 4G, and would recommend it for anyone.
**FULL DISCLOSURE** The Author has been selected as an Influencer for T-Mobile USA, Inc and in conjunction with this role has been provided with a device.