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back to article Hands on with the T-Mobile G1

The G1’s looks, specifications and, crucially, launch date have already been widely reported. So, that just leaves one question on everyone’s lips: what’s the Android-based talker actually like to use? G1_02 The home screen on T-Mobile's G1 At yesterday’s launch, Register Hardware tested the phone and we quickly found …

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No matter how good...

would you pay good money for something that looks so cheap and nasty?

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Version 3 will change the market?

I've seen a lot of negative comment based on the iPhone & WM alternatives. But Jesus is a version 3 product (if you take itouch as V1) and WM is version 6. Who can expect Google to do more than MS (and most other software developers) in taking to V3 to get a rounded/stable product?

And remember the iUnique feature of this device is, presumably, the manufacturers don't have to pay MS royalties (or Apple its developers) which gives a clear cost advantage if and when it gets to volume and competitive manufacture.

Then we can expect a manufacturer (Asus?) to deliver a groundbreaking package (ieeepc?) that will deliver smartphones to the masses just as the eeepc liberated the ultramobile from the rich/gadgetry business market.

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Unhappy

Meh

Sounds kinda cool in some ways, but just as ridiculously overpriced as the iPhone. Who in their right mind would pay over £1000 for a mobile phone? That aside, what's the point of having a touch screen AND a trackball AND a bunch of buttons on the front AND a slide-out QWERTY keyboard? Sure, touch-screen isn't ideal for all forms of input, but that's the price you pay for making a device sleek and attractive like the iPhone.

Give me Android on a sexy slimline phone with a nice big touchscreen, standard headphone and USB sockets, and a decent camera with flash, and I'll happily pay you up to £500 for it.

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Unhappy

Where's the source, Luke?

Seeing as some of the stuff on the phone is supposed to be GPL - where's the source?

I know they've released an open source Java SDK, but I want the whole system for playing with and porting. Their site says 4Q 2008, but that's ages...

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Technically

Q4 08 is only 7 days away

But then again I suppose we do realise they mean some time mid 09

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@Stuart

There is no such thing as an itouch. And it would be perverse to count the iPod Touch as the iPhone v1, since the iPhone was launched several months before it. Fair comparison would probably be by iPhone/iPod Touch firmware version, which makes the current device a second-generation effort.

You're right though, this particular handset is just this particular handset; Android is likely to be embedded into much more compelling devices in the future.

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@Stuart

"And remember the iUnique feature of this device is, presumably, the manufacturers don't have to pay MS royalties (or Apple its developers) which gives a clear cost advantage if and when it gets to volume and competitive manufacture."

Yep, that $5 per-handset is a killer isn't it (mid-level Symbian licence point in 2006). I'm sure world+dog would make phone handsets if it wasn't for that cripling licence cost.

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@Stuart

"But Jesus is a version 3 product (if you take itouch as V1)"

Why would you do that? The iPod touch was released 4 months after the original iPhone.

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nasty...

totally subjective, but the thing looks cheap fom all angles... almost like a chinese copy of a phone that hasnt quite existed! the android OS may be linux based... but whoopdy-do!

I think fanboi-ism is probably stronger with this device than the i-phone! I just cant see the attraction!

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@Stuart

"But Jesus is a version 3 product (if you take itouch as V1) "

Eh? Presumably you mean "iPod touch", not "iTouch".

But anyway, the iPod touch wasn't "V1" - it came out AFTER the iPhone and shared the same software just minus a few features.

iPhone hardware is at v2 and software at v2.1 - there's no other way to look at it.

Talking of looks - this GooglePhone is pig ugly. That bit at the bottom with the buttons on looks like it is just stuck on as an afterthought.

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Threaded messaging?

Does this phone have Palm-style threaded messaging?

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Rewind to 2005

This launch reminds me of the Motorola ROKR. It looks like a prototype delivered by a manufacturer that isn't convinced but wants to get something out there.

The whole touchscreen, trackball and slide out keyboard seems to say we couldn't make up our mind which interface was best so added everything we could think of. Compare this to the HTC Touch Pro and you can see what the same manufacturer can do when they really try.

This is only going to be bought by geeks that are seduced by the words Google and open. The reality looks to be a sub-par experience that may do more harm than good.

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@ Jerome

> Give me Android on a sexy slimline phone with a nice big touchscreen, standard headphone and USB sockets, and a decent camera with flash, and I'll happily pay you up to £500 for it.

Ditto, but without the camera stuff (I have a camera that is a camera), bigger storage would be a nice addition (unless it could happily stream audio over the Internet).

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Firmware Update?

Now there's a point. With no PC connectivity, how is this achieved? OTA? Now that would be pretty cool. There are still so many unanswered questions...

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting...

The phone looks rubbish, I'd never get one.

That said, the Android OS itself looks OK. Once people figure out how to port it to other HTC devices, hopefully it'll open up a whole new game; replacing existing WM installs with Android.

I'll play.

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I like it!

It looks less cheap and nasty than the average Samsung...

It's good to have multiple input devices, I have a SE G900, which has a number pad and a touch screen, so I don't need to get my stylus out on Dalston High Street to text and get bopped over the head!

Also sometimes it's quicker to use predictive text... If the G1 had a number pad I'd be ready to buy one, although it would also need to shed a few grams to sway me.

Good first attempt. :)

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@ Jon Brunson

I like to have the option to take half-decent snaps at a moment's notice, without lugging around a separate camera. I can bring my SLR along if I know I'll need to take high quality photos. It seems crazy not to build decent cameras into phones when half of the components (screen, processor, storage, batteries) are common between the two devices.

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@Neil

It has a data port for connecting to a computer or to an adaptor for headphones. From what I understand, it's the same port that HTC has been using on all it's other phones.

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Looks like a slightly improved Sidekick to me

Apart from the real plastic finish there's nothing in this that makes it significantly different from a Sidekick/Hiptop, let alone a WM or iPhone.

Like it or loathe it (I'm indifferent because it has no keyboard) the iPhone was a game changer because it pushed the UI expectations to a whole new level but apart from appearing to the Open Sauce folks I don't quite get the hype around this.

From an app dev perspective there's nothing here that you can't do today on a WM5 (let alone WM6) device (in native C++ or managed C# or even using something like Basic4PPC) and devices like the Omnia, Touch Pro etc look much nicer.

It's a Sinclair Spectrum for phone users :)

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Firmware update to do photo zoom?

I assume you're talking about digital zoom then? Which, lets face it, is pointless... You're just cropping the number of pixels down on the phone instead of on photoshop when you get home. The only zoom worth having is optical, and I've yet to see a phone with one, it's a tad tricky to fit into a slim chassis.

On a phone camera you can just hope for the most pixels you can get, and a good flash.

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Linux

err .. phone ... surely we are missing something here?

Nice review .. but what's it like to use as ... *shock horror* a phone?

Did I miss that bit?

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4 months to upgrade

nice toy, i can upgrade from my htc tytan 2, on tmobile, in 4 months, i hope they still do the android then. i love the htc popout keyboards.

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Not Quite Enough

I'm not convinced. It seems to tie me in too much to the Google Way, as well as being deficient in some features I'd find useful.

What I'd really like is a tri- or quad-band GSM phone with 3G, not using Windows Mobile, not locked to a network with decent configurable push-IMAP SSL email and web browsing (email more so than web). A good camera would be nice for opportunistic snaps but not as essential. Think of a cross between a P[89]00 and a K800i as a starting point.

Anyone got any suggestions? Or do I have to keep waiting? Most of the customisable Linux phones seem to be deficient in the 3G area.

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Unhappy

Were you taking the photos *with* the phone?

...because I don't think you managed to get a single one in focus. Anyway, while I'd dearly love one of these, and I don't mind the form-factor per se, it does look cheap and tacky. While the JesusPhone is an overpriced toy, at least it *looks* like it's worth the money you pay for it.

It's a shame, but I hope some other manufacturers get in, or HTC get some decent designers on board.

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The Big List: 30 critical issues with Google G1 phone

Its manufacturer HTC called it "The most exciting phone in the history of phones." I compiled a list of all software, hardware and service flaws of G1 and asked the question, "Would Apple have been utterly crucified and AAPL have tanked if the iPhone came out with so many shortcomings?" in:

The Big List: 30 critical issues with Google G1 phone

http://counternotions.com/2008/09/24/g1/

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Google put their name on _this_?!

I'm surprised that Google let this be the first Android phone. To Joe pub, this is the googlephone, and it looks cheap and fugly. I hope that others will pick up and run with Android, but the first cab off the rank is a bit of a lame duck, it seems. Perhaps there'll be something better available by the time I've finishes mixing and mangling metaphors.

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Flame

BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!

So far all I have read is "...oooh it looks cheap", "...it must be crap cause it's not Apple/MS" (pick one please). "...geee, I never touched, but it must suck...."

So why don't you all shut the f up, and wait until you actually USE one!

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re: Woody

Why would you need to "actually USE one" to decide that it looks cheap?

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@Woody

Careful, sensible posts are not permitted on articles about phones, see anything to do with Apple for further clarification.

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Stop

Re: BLAH BLAH BLAH

Funny that I should comment on the comments re: my post: All the previous post are basically: "I can't give you a definition of pornography, but I will know it when I see it."

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@AC, RE: Interesting....

I'd play that game too especially on the HTC Touch HD (http://www.htc.com/www/product.aspx?id=64790). 528Mhz CPU, 288Mb RAM, 480x800 WVGA Screen, HSDPA, Quad-Band, GPS, Bluetooth EDR & AD2P, WiFi, 5mp Camera, 3.5mm headphone jack, FM Radio, Accelerometer, MicroSD card (2.0 compatible).

Now THAT is the phone I've been waiting for...

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@Woody

Yup, plus nobody seems to have noticed that its a FIRST LOOK not a review. I tried out the J-Phone on a couple of occasions and had over an hour to play and decide it wasnt for me and eventually got a Touch Diamond. Eventually I will have an hour or so with one of these (mate is a T-mobile manager so I know I can have a play when I want) and I'll make up my mind then. As to the looks,well it does look rather like a Sidekick and that seemed to find favour with a certain Ms. Hilton.......

Yeah, maybe it is cheap and tacky :)

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Did Google not learn from other's mistakes?

Why does this not have a 3.5mm headphone jack?

Why does this have such a small onboard memory?

Why does this not have Exchange support?

Why is this locked to one network?

Why is the source not available?

It just seems daft to me that almost every smartphone manufacturer has been slated for any of the above, and yet they have ignored all the criticism when making the Satan Phone?

Roll on OpenMoko...

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@Andrew

The headphone jack thing is pretty dumb, and I was hoping to find out just how "open" this thing is. I'd like to buy a phone because of it's hardware, while not paying for software I don't want. That'd be real openness. If Android is really open so that you can install additional drivers, it would be fun to put it on other phones, and of course seeing OpenMoko and others on other phones as well would be neat.

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@ Dave

Nokia E71? £280ish sim free, does imap, has gsm, 3g and wifi. build in browser's ok and opera's a worth while addition.

3.2M camera, nothing special but takes decent pics and strangely for a high end nokia stable

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Jobs Horns

The Satan Phone?

If this is the Satan phone, then Satan's running around Hell carrying an HTC Touch Pro and screaming: "What the fuck are you up to? *This* is where it's at!" at His minions right now.

The only thing that looks like it's been dreamed up in Hell as a Machiavellian plot to Own The World here is the lock in Network contract and Apple did that one first.

Satan is dead. Long live the new Satan.

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nasty photos

it's not the sleekest phone I've ever seen, and design is a factor in purchase too.

that said, the photos in this first look were mostly unfocussed and taken in very poor light that made the white facade look dim, and the keypad shot is so heavily shadowed I thought the back was transparent (between the keys) until I checked other photos.

I suspect this product may suffer from Applism.

5 years ago I thought my trusty iRiver was great - it did lots more than an iPod, and was cheaper too. But it lacked the swanky interface or simplicity of design, and look what happened. iRiver were pushing ahead in what the technology could do and keeping prices fair, but apple will still succeed by pushing out stylish, simpler models as most people are not technical, and want simplicity and style over functionality - and evidently will pay more for less too. Now iRiver, for all their advances, are the ones pushing to get that sleek apple-style ease of use into their product range, while apple control the market.

google as the late-comer to the party have made a good first attempt, but it hasn't got enough to be anything other than a techy small-percent share yet

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Jobs Horns

Wishful thinking

I don't suppose there's any chance that one day in the future I might be able to buy the phone of my choice and install the OS of my choice on it, like I can with a PC (excluding Apple OS's, of course, but then I always do).

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So what's it's USP?

I thought this was to be the FOSS alternative to the closed source approach of Apple and Microsoft? yet it's on contract, will be locked down and there's lots of commercial applications.

It just looks to me like a Google clone of Windows Mobile with some iPhone features on typically badly designed ugly hardware.

Trackballs? why not force users to plugin a mouse and be done with it. A properly designed mobile interface does not need trackballs and millions of buttons. A keyboard is justified if the device comes with mobile office software.

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@Kontra

Most of your list seem to be either criticisms of the providers plans, or the lack of features that plenty of other smartphones don't have either.

I agree with everyones criticisms of the visual aspect of this phone, but then I thought the whole point of Android was that it was supposed to be a platform not a single phone model (so the cheapness of the build is surely on the shoulders of HTC rather than Google). But lets face it, why would HTC invest big bucks on the design of a phone for a new unproven platform... they are testing the waters to judge the reaction to the Android UI before they make any serious investment. Apple on the other hand controls both the hardware and software for the iPhone, and as such they needed to pay as much attention to the physical appeal not just the UI.

So while I won't be rushing to buy this particularly ugly phone, I will be reserving my judgment on Android until I've had a chance to play with it. I'm also hoping that as someone suggested, Android gets ported to some of the other HTC devices (I'd love to try it out on my current HTC WM6 phone).

As for Google, I'm no fanboi... I've started using Scroogle and while I do use Google Docs for some things, I'd never use it for anything personal or sensitive.

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