Google first phone, T-Mobile G1

On September 23rd T-Mobile, a mobile operator owned by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, presented its new phone, the G1, which is made by HTC, a Taiwanese manufacturer. The reason for the buzz is that the device is the first to be based on software called Android, made by Google, the largest internet company.
The G1 will cost you $179 and will be available October 22.

Most mobile operators and handset-makers are searching for a platform for their mass-market phones of the future. Many have warmed to Linux, a free, open-source operating system which can be customised. Some are tweaking Linux to make their own flavours. Google’s Android is also a variant of Linux.

The G1 is slightly bulkier and heavier and—well, let's just say it—a little uglier than the slim, sexy iPhone. Weighing in at 5.6 ounces and just 0.6 inches thick, the G1 should fit relatively easily in a jeans pocket.

The G1's 3.17-inch screen is slightly smaller than the iPhone's 3.5-inch display, and at first glance, its interface looks a bit dull compared to Apple's red-hot handset. But beneath the G1's sliding display, we get a surprise—a full, Sidekick-sized QWERTY keypad, perfect for those who don't want to deal with a touchscreen keyboard. There's also a trackball, a Home key, and physical Call and End buttons.

While the G1's main screen isn't quite as eye-popping as the iPhone's, the Android-powered display was surprisingly responsive—a quick flick of fingertip opened a windowshade of applications, while tapping the status bar at the top of the screen instantly revealed e-mail, SMS, and voice-mail alerts. Indeed, tapping and scrolling around the G1's various menus was a seamless pleasure, akin to what you'd expect from an iPhone. The G1's peppy interface responded quickly.

You'll get the most out of the G1 if you're using Google's suite of online applications, all of which sync automatically the moment you sign in. The push Gmail client features threaded messaging, just like you'd expect online, and you can star messages, organize them with filters, and even conduct Google searches within the e-mail client itself. You can also use the client to check your POP and IMAP accounts.

The G1's dialer and contact list immediately grabs all your online Google calendar info and contacts—and for those with IM accounts, the G1 will indicate which of your contacts happen to be signed in for chat, an "online presence" feature familiar to anyone with a Helio phone. As with the iPhone, you can flick your contact list with a finger, spinning it roulette-style. Nice.

The Android Web browser on the G1 immediately takes its place as one of the top mobile browsers I've seen, right next to those on the iPhone and Nokia Nseries handsets. Pages rendered quickly (over Wi-Fi, at least) and perfectly; a tap brings up zoom in/out controls, while a touch-enabled magnifying glass lets you quickly scan lengthy Web pages. If you want to save a picture you just touch and hold; a contextual menu pops up with a variety of options, including saving the image to the phone.

Using Street View with the G1's built-in compass. Say you're facing north; you hold the G1 in front of you, select Street View, and you'll see your street from a north-facing vantage point. Turn east—with the phone still in front of you—and the Street View image follows. Angle the phone skyward, and Street View moves likewise.

The G1's music player is no great shakes; it'll play your standard MP3/WMA/AAC/Ogg Vobis files, but the bare-bones player interface can't hold a candle to the iPhone's. Also, there's no video player. And while the G1's three-megapixel camera tops the iPhone's 2MP shooter, the G1 doesn't come with built-in video recording.

All of the G1's main features are open to third-party development.


Anonymous said...

Glad to know that iPhone has a real competitor. The G1 will drive price of the touch-screen phone down and encourage competition in the market, which in turn will lead to more advanced technology at cheaper price.

Anonymous said...

third-party developers will need time to make it a smart, versatile phone

Peter L. said...

Android platform looks great. This open source cell phone idea will only get better.