T-mobile MyTouch series: camera app seriously flawed

August 22, 2012
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T-Mobile’s newly unveiled myTouch and myTouch Q might have not enjoyed much attention from the wide public with their rather modest specs and mundane appearances, but they are now certainly under the spotlight. The phones are not under scrutiny for the best of reasons, but, hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, is there?

T-Mo started selling the mid-rangers about two weeks back, and the first few online reviews didn’t praise the handhelds, but they didn’t completely put them down either. One particular detail seemed to disappoint though – the 5 MP rear-facing cameras. You know that trick the Nokia did with its PureView 808? Well this isn’t as cool, and to be quite honest, I think we can all understand why consumers might be a bit irked at the idea the spec sheet isn’t telling the whole truth.

It didn’t take long for restless tech journalists to get to the bottom of the issue, and Mike Gikas from Consumer Reports dropped the bomb a while ago. It therefore seems that the advertised 5 MP “shooters” can’t actually shoot 5 MP photos, but only 3.9-megapixel images. And that’s at the highest settings.

The story behind the headlines is this: the maximum resolution at which the two phones can snap photos is apparently 2560 x 1536 pixels, which translates into 3.9 MP images with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio is key here, as most fully functional 5 MP cameras would take photos at 4:3 with a max resolution of 2560 x 1920 pix. You can say the problem is that the phones’ shooters crop images by default for some reason to deliver them at the “best quality”, but sacrifice a full megapixel in the process.

Before jumping at T-Mobile’s throat for lying to customers, you should know that the cameras’ glitches aren’t tied to the hardware of the handhelds, but are in fact software-related. Both the myTouch and myTouch Q run Android 2.3 Gingerbread and, while the aging mobile OS version should have no problem in supporting even higher quality cameras, in this particular case we’re dealing with some kind of a bug. This being said, we’d like to note the aforementioned is a non-standard resolution, so it’s not surprising that this should happen. The app was probably made for a standard resolution phone!

The good news is that the issue should be easily solved with a software update, with myTouch adopters then being able to enjoy their cameras’ 5 MP sensors at their fullest. The even better news is that T-Mobile might start considering updating the new phones to Android 4.0 ICS to ensure the problem will be left behind. That’s just wishful thinking, so don’t get overly excited.

On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious that Magenta officials knew about the camera glitch and tried to conceal it, falsely advertising the two phones as being equipped with 5 MP cameras.  In the meantime, if you have a MyTouch and are eager to get your full resolution, you can always try out Camera ICS+ or select from the myriad of other 3rd party camera apps out there in Google Play.

Do you agree that T-Mo should have given us a heads up? Are you still considering purchasing any of the two phones? And do you think this “bad publicity” could actually drive myTouch sales forward?

 

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