T-Mobile is known for its love of low-cost Android handsets, and its latest branded offering is no exception. But with a smaller, resistive screen and lower-cost styling, how will the trimmed down T-Mobile Pulse Mini compare to its already-budget predeccessor, the T-Mobile Pulse?
Update: We previously reported that the T-Mobile Pulse Mini doesn’t have built-in GPS but it does. When we first tested the handset out there was no mention of GPS in the spec sheet and we couldn’t get it to work. GPS is included and it works well.
What we like
T-Mobile has channelled the pebbly beaches of Britain’s coasts for the styling of the Pulse Mini – its rounded corners and curved back make it nice to hold, while the dark grey asks you politely to take it seriously.
As always, we’re glad to see the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack – particularly because the Pulse was lumbered with a smaller connector which required an adaptor. The music player, while a little on the dull side, isn’t bad. It’s the typical Android music player affair and does the job as well as it needs to.
For such a small onscreen keyboard, typing with your fingers is not too bad provided you’re of the small-fingered persuasion. Even though we’re no fans of the stylus, we’re glad to see it housed by the handset, minimising the risk of misplacing it or having to rummage around in your bag looking for it for hours.
We love the freedom of multiple homescreens, and you can populate around fifteen of them on the Pulse Mini – and get a quick and easy overview of them all using the zoomed-out grid mode. The T-Mobile Pulse Mini comes with lots of handy features pre-loaded, like MyCommunity for social networking and a number of games and apps. Access to the Android Market means you can download whatever else you need; and with Android 2.1 behind it come the end of April, you should be able to use most apps to their full functionality.
The 3.2-megapixel camera does a passable job, while the microSD card slot is a welcome addition to expand the 300MB of internal memory. Email was very straightforward to set up and with the opportunity to add multiple accounts you’ll never be out of the loop.
What we don’t like
Web browsing on such a small screen is a bit of a chore, although the Pulse Mini was quite nippy so loading speeds were fine.
We can understand that resistive touchscreens keep the costs down for the consumer, but we’ll just never be on board with them. This particular screen is less responsive than many – we really had to press down to register a command and typing was frustrating as we wanted to work faster than the screen would allow us.
Speaking of which, typing with the stylus was really quite annoying. As the screen is so small it’s difficult to hold the stylus like a pencil and still see what you letters you’re aiming for – not to mention the slippiness of the screen and the thinness of the stylus working together to make you drop it repeatedly. It’s also nigh on impossible to access the pull-down menu on the homescreen without the stylus, so you do end up relying on it quite heavily.
Similar to its predecessor, the Pulse Mini’s screen resolution isn’t up to much, tending heavily towards the pixelly side. We also felt the handset was a little slow to respond to commands, not a hugely noticeable lag but just a general lethargy that grated as we used the handset.
Considering that the original Pulse was already a fairly low-cost Android handset, it seems almost arbitrary to indulge in another. But the Pulse Mini is actually quite nice to use; we love the feel of it in our hand, and the Android operating system is always a joy. On a par with the HTC Tattoo, it’s really the tiny screen that lets the Pulse Mini down most of all.