The Googlephone for everyone?
The Pulse’s standard Android browser is very intuitive, easy to operate and speedy. Running on T-Mobile's HSPA 3G network - up to 7.2Mb/s downloading, 2Mb/s uploading - it’s impressively quick for a mobile device. It rockets along on Wi-Fi, which is very easy to set up and switch on or off.
The Pulse's 3.2Mp camera is weak
The browser offers multiple windows you can switch easily between, plus fast zoom controls – although there’s no iPhone-style pinch zooming. It’s still great to use, with convenient menu options and Google-driven suggestion lists as you’re typing in a URL.
As well as T-Mobile’s own Web’n’Walk portal, there are bookmarks for popular social networking sites and other online services, including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, eBay, the BBC and so on. An dedicated app delivers a smooth YouTube experience too, with a tidy UI for browsing or searching for clips. Playback quality is good on the large touchscreen.
The Pulse’s 3.2Mp camera is disappointing. The interface is tidy and easy to operate, if limited in its range of settings and control options. The camera app takes a few seconds to start up, but once open can be accessed more rapidly in future. The performance of the shooter is reasonable in strong lighting conditions, but where lighting dips or is uneven, it seems to increase shutter lag issues, and images become less clear. It has an autofocus system that works reasonably well and takes decent close-up shots in focus.
Colour reproduction is so-so, though – again, it’s fine in strong lighting conditions, but can look flat and pale at other times. The level of detail it captures isn’t among the best in its class, either. With no flash, low-light shooting is poor. Video shooting is below par too, the resolution limited to 352 x 288 at 20f/s.
Google Maps is the only out-of-the-box application that tapes into the Pulse’s Assisted GPS pick-up. The version used here is excellently implemented, with a neat graphical user interface that works with finger swiping and is very responsive. Maps load up nippily if you have a decent data connection. You can get the usual selection of precise mapping, route planning - for walking, driving and public transport - plus search options for finding addresses and looking up local services.
Not a phone for the serious photographer or video shooter
Street View is available too, with a long press on the map pulling up a thumbnail next to the address. Another tap pulls pops up a full 360° finger-panning photo the street. You and your friends can keep tabs on each others’ locations on Google Maps.