If you have been following the news recently, you have probably seen the early photos and the launch of the T-Mobile G1. The first commercial phone powered by Google’s Android is built by THC and will be commercialized by T-Mobile for a reasonable price. It’s fair to say that it is not sexy, but it is feature packed and the platform strategy is very interesting. While many will compare it to the iPhone, I don’t really think if the G1 as an iPhone competitor. G1 lacks the design factor that is the primary sales driver for the iPhone. T-Mobile or Google won’t have a tight control over the user experience like Apple does. In the longer term, it will depend on the software (yup, the value is in the software). It could be awesome, or it could be crap – it’s hard to tell, but at least the first seeds of the eco-system have been planted.
In this post, I gathered information about the G1 that was distilled across many posts, over many weeks. Also added, is all the “official” information that was released today. This page will be updated in the coming days, when new stuff shows up, so bookmark it. Feel free to add your own comments/experience/opinion down there.
Keyboard: The T-Mobile G1 is a touch-screen and QWERTY phone, and that’s a good thing, no matter what Steve Jobs says. From the first reports out there, the keyboard is not “great”, but it’s “ok” and surely better than a virtual one.
Trackball: There is a trackball that looks much like what newer Blackberry phones have.
Touch screen: pretty much everyone agrees that the screen is great. It’s 640×320 resolution is not the highest out there (see HTC Touch HD), but it is certainly good enough to get a good visual experience.
Battery life: it is said to reach 5 hours of talk time and 130 hours of standby time, which is comparable to the iPhone’s, but barely. We will have to wait for the first real-world test to see if this is true.
GPS: Yes! the G1 has a GPS built-in, although it was not featured during the official launch. Weird.
Memory: 1GB might not seem like it’s a lot, but it can be extended to a maximum of 8GB via a flashcard. It’s hard to have an opinion on this without knowing how this small amount impacts the price. It seems really low when compared to the iPhone’s 8GB basic model, but the total cost of ownership is less. I think that they could have put 2GB or 4GB in there, honestly.
Portrait/Landscape automatic switch: I’ll have to get back to you on this one…
Size: the G1 is bulkier than the iPhone – which is already somewhat big and heavy… not good, but hey, that’s the price of having a physical keyboard.
Colors (updated 9/23, 1:15pm): The G1 is available in black,white, and brown (yuck!) version. Blue is the most consensual color, by the way…
Standard 3.5mm Jack: No. come on, this is a bit lame.
User interface: good news: the user interface seems very slick. It looks more like what you can find on a modern desktop operating system, when compared to the iPhone. Eventually, we expect to see more apps and more variety of apps than on iPhone. There will be good stuff and horrible sutff – that’s just life.
Google: You MUST have a Google account to use the phone. Well, yes it’s pretty Google centric, but is it a surprise? If your live revolves around Google’s tools, then you’re pretty much set. If not… look again.
Email: there is a GMail client and an generic POP/IMAP client. GMail is probably the better option for now.
Microsoft Exchange Support: No. Could someone download the SDK and do something about it?
PC/Phone synchronization: No. Again, if you use Google’s stuff it should be online, anyways.
Web Browser: It’s based on WebKit, like the iPhone one. At the launch, an executive said: “think of it as a Chrome light”. It does not have the cool, intuitive “zoom”, but it works based on “content blocks” – which might actually be better even if it doesn’t look as cool…
Media Player: It looks like the default Media Player is very basic. At the moment, the iPhone would be the winner of this battle.
Amazon Music: this is the music shopping place on the G1. Non-DRM music is cool – we don’t know enough about the user experience (yet) to comment.
To conclude the software section, I would say that I liked this comment: “As to be expected with any first generation Open Source product, it’s a mishmash of awesome and horrible” (link)
$179 (2-yr contract), data plan: $35 (unlimited* internet+SMS)
*It turns out that the data plan is not “unlimited” – it includes 1GB to 3GB a month from what I heard. Of course, that was in the fine prints…READ THEM
USA: October 22nd
Europe: sometimes in Q3 (Europe)