Following rumors earlier this year, Huawei and T-Mobile have just announced the myTouch and myTouch Q Android smartphones — virtual twins that only differ in their offering of a slide-out landscape keyboard (the Q has one, the basic myTouch doesn't). Both models feature 5-megapixel autofocus cameras with LED flashes, 4-inch WVGA displays, HSPA+ support, front-facing cams for video calling, and 1.4GHz single-core processors. Needless to say, they're targeting toward the lower end of the market, and they're priced to match: both will be available for the same price, $49.99 on contract after a $50 mail-in rebate, when they launch on August 8th.

T-Mobile has a few in-house brands that it spreads among its smartphones — Sidekick, myTouch, and the G series, most notably — and these two myTouches take cues from their predecessors, most notably a "Genius Button" in the capacitive button row that launches a custom voice control service. Of course, third-party voice control becomes less relevant in newer versions of Android, but unfortunately, both of these models are launching on Gingerbread, version 2.3. To be very clear, that's three major revisions of Android ago.

They feel like spiritual successors of the T-Mobile Comet from 2010

We had an opportunity today to play with the black versions of both phones (the myTouch will also come in a dark red, while the Q will have a white option). They feel like spiritual successors of the old T-Mobile Comet from 2010, one of Huawei's first serious US smartphone launches — it was a pretty powerful statement at the time that the Chinese company could make a splash in the entry level, and I think these new models could have a similar effect if they drop to free on contract. I was impressed with the build quality and material choice, particularly on the textured non-slip rear covers. The keyboard on the Q worked very well, and surprisingly, you don't pay a premium for it over the base model.

Unfortunately, the choice of launching on Gingerbread this late in the game is rapidly becoming unforgivable, and T-Mobile is essentially going to have to hoodwink potential customers into thinking they're getting a "new" device — not one underpinned by 2010 software — when these phones come to retail in a few weeks. If the carrier can rapidly deploy Android 4.0 and drop the price within a few dollars of free on contract, though, both models could be strong offerings for first-time smartphone buyers.