The Pulse uses a mostly a standard Android 1.5 user interface with a touch of home screen re-working.
It combines touchscreen finger action with trackball control, and is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7200A 528MHz processor.
The capacitive touchscreen used here is pleasingly responsive and precise. It responds quickly and flows very smoothly when finger swiping, dragging and pressing.
It reacts to light touches, and sweeping actions have a motion-flow feel to them, so you can whiz through lists (such as contacts or music tracks) and navigate screens with proportionate movement related to finger action. It's very well done.
The trackball too is suitably responsive, giving a good sense of control over navigation.
Home screen customisation
T-Mobile has themed the Pulse menu backgrounds to a default dark grey with understated carbon fibre patterning in it, and it looks pretty classy. Unlocking the screen requires an upward finger flick rather than a typical sideways swipe.
The home screen look has been tweaked from the usual setup of sideways swiping between multiple home screens; the Pulse offers an expandable multi-screen style 'canvas' of an initial six joined home screen panels, allowing you plenty of scope to customise the display with the numerous app widgets, shortcuts and other goodies you can add to the home screen.
These panels, which can be swiped between using a bit of finger or trackball action, are arranged in a 3 x 2 formation - three panels across and two up - though the canvas can expand further as you add content to the home screen.
To get an overview of what's on the home screens, and to move around quickly, you can zoom out or in with a quick press of the trackball and then scroll between the panels using your finger or the trackball.
Pressing and dragging down the tab on top of the screen provides additional information, including notification status for messages, connections and so on.
Out of the box, the home screen features a tidy row of function shortcut icons in typical Android style. These include shortcuts for the content gallery, dial-pad, and music player, plus T-Mobile's Mobile Jukebox and Web'n'Walk browsers, and a suite of Google apps including Google Mail, Google Maps, Google Talk, and YouTube.
There's also a button to take you directly to the Android Market apps download service.
Out of the box, there are a just two control icon buttons on the bottom of the home screen. One pulls up a 'My favourites' carousel of user-defined photo contacts, illustrated by images you've assigned to your contacts.
Scroll and press the one you're after and a list of communications options pops up on screen (call, send message, send email, start chat plus an activity log).
This can be expanded as much as you like or re-ordered, and you can also change it so that it opens any other of your defined groups instead of your favourites.
The other home screen button pulls up the phone's applications menu – a scrollable grid of icons that displays 20 apps at a time. Here you can peruse all the software pre-loaded on the phone in regular Android style. Functions can be opened with a quick tap, and sub menu options can be scrolled and selected by finger or trackball.
Within apps, further menu options can be pulled up by pressing the Menu button next to the trackball, with grid options appearing in a pop-up panel at the bottom of the display. It's an intuitive system to get to grips with, and the screen's responsiveness makes it feel comfortable to operate. There's plenty of head-room for your fingers too, which is always good on a touchscreen device.