The T-Mobile Pulse packs regular Android music player software, which does a decent job at presenting tunes you've loaded onto your phone or MicroSD card.
It automatically arranges them under appropriate categories, appearing in conventional list format under headings including playlists, artists, favourites, albums, tracks, recently played and genres.
It's regular music player stuff; it may not have the swishness of the iPhone, but it's tidily arranged and a perfectly serviceable user interface. When the music's playing, the screen displays large, obvious control buttons, with a draggable timeline, shuffle and repeat options.
Cover art is supported (if available), and if you turn the phone sideways you can get an almost Cover Flow way of skimming through albums with a bit of finger swiping action. It's not as slick as the iPhone, but it's presentable enough, nonetheless.
The Pulse has a 2.5mm earphone socket built into the top of the bodywork, but it also has an adaptor lead for using with standard 3.5mm jack-equipped headphones. Our review sample Pulse arrived without the standard boxed set of earphones, so we can't comment on their performance.
We were, however, able to upgrade to our reference affordable Sennheiser headphones, using the adaptor lead. Through these we got a pleasing, well balanced audio performance, with decent handling across the range; it was perhaps a tad toppy at higher volumes, but it has a rich bass presence.
One issue we had with our review sample was a quirk or two with the adaptor lead attached. With a variety of standard headphones attached (including basic iPod ones), when we pressed the pause control on the screen, pause would deactivate after around 7 seconds and start playing tunes again. Odd.
It may be another early sample issue, but, again, we'll report back when we've had a look at an on-sale model. When we plugged in our own 2.5mm-equipped earphones, this wasn't an issue. However, we also weren't convinced by the quality of the dangling adaptor we had in-box, which we frequently had to wiggle to get full stereo playback.
There is a loudspeaker option too. It's OK, in a typical mobile phone sort of way – not too piercingly harsh, but lacking bass depth.
Unlike most mobile devices now, there's no FM radio function pre-loaded onto the Pulse. As a T-Mobile branded smartphone, the Pulse has an app (and link from the music player) for T-Mobile's Mobile Jukebox music download service.
This is essentially a simple link to T-Mobile's online portal for buying and downloading a selection tunes and music video over the air – iTune's it isn't.
The Pulse also supports video playback, with its onboard software supporting MP4, H.263, and H.264 file formats, but not DivX or Xvid. Playback looks reasonably good on the large display in full screen mode.
The pre-loaded YouTube app is well implemented, providing a fast and user-friendly way to access the online video streaming service. It updates with thumbnails of featured videos and category leaders, making browsing easy and intuitive. Naturally, you can also manage your account too and upload videos to the site from the Pulse.