Android's 1st Born (1/3)

T-Mobile G1

November 7, 2008
Review by: Adam Z Lein, Senior Editor

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As many of you may know, T-Mobile was the first carrier in the USA to release HTC's first phone (the HTC Wallaby) which was also the first full touch screen smart phone available in North America. It was running Windows Mobile, then known as Pocket PC Phone Edition and, at the time, was the most powerful Smartphone around. That was six years ago.

    Now, T-Mobile has released HTC's first phone that does not run Windows Mobile. The G1 runs the Open Handset Alliance and Google's first attempt at a Smartphone operating system called Android.  The following review will primarily look at the G1's offering from the perspective of a heavy user of Windows Mobile. Read on for the revealing review!

(all images link to higher resolution)

     The big thing about the T-Mobile G1 is that it runs a new operating system called Android, which is open-source and free. To the average consumer, that means practically nothing, so the other big thing about the G1 is that it syncs with Google's services such as Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts.  It also supports Google Maps, and for the first time on a mobile device, Google Maps' Street View.  So if you use Gmail and Google for everything, then you should be very excited about this phone.  In fact, it requires you to log in with (or sign up for) a Gmail account when you boot the phone.  You aren't even allowed to use it without a Gmail account!  So don't try to set it up in an area without a data connection, 'cause it won't work and you can't turn on WiFi from there, either.

    Just like Windows Mobile, developers are allowed to create any type of program they would like in order to enhance the smartphone experience on Android. However, there are supposedly no restrictions.  Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.  Open-source software has never become very popular in the public view, probably because giving it away doesn't leave you much money for marketing.  Windows Mobile has had few restrictions for years and supports many many different types of devices. The bad news is that this type of model often leads to a difficulty for developers to create applications that can be supported on such a wide variety of hardware.  Currently, this is not a problem for Android since there is only one device that runs it on the market today.

    The T-Mobile G1 comes with a Mini-USB sync cable (same as other HTC devices), USB AC adapter, stereo headphones, and manuals.  There is no software CD for your desktop computer because there is no desktop syncing interface at all. 

Check out our unboxing video, and try to figure out where Wal-Mart is.

    Let's talk specs. The G1 uses the same Qualcomm MSM7201A CPU clocking at 528MHz than does the HTC Touch Diamond and Touch Pro. The capacitive touchscreen is 3.2" and has a resolution of 320x480, making for a pixel density of 180ppi (the Diamond has a 285ppi screen, and the iPhone has a 164ppi screen). Running on quadband GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and dualband UMTS (1700/2100), the G1 packs 256MB ROM and 192MB of RAM. Also included is Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, WiFi (b & g), aGPS and microSD for memory expansion. The camera on back is 3.2MP and includes autofocus but no flash. Powering it all is a 1150mAh battery. For even more specs, check out

Size (inches)
Weight (grams | ounces)
3.96" x 2.34" x 0.67"
133 | 4.76
4.68" x 2.44" x 0.67"
188 | 6.63
4.58" x 2.42" x 0.47"
120 | 4.20
4.56" x 2.33" x 0.65"
178 | 6.28
3.92" x 2.41" x 0.60"
137 | 4.83
4.24" x 2.09" x 0.53"
117 | 4.12
4.17" x 2.00" x 0.85"
151 | 5.34
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"
122 | 4.30
4.57" x 1.70" x 0.64"
140 | 4.94
4.88" x 2.44" x 0.53"
130 | 4.56
4.21" x 2.20" x 0.55"
120 | 4.20
4.53" x 2.47" x 0.47"
146 | 5.15
4.63" x 2.19" x 0.67"
158 | 5.57
4.35" x 2.07" x 0.67"
158 | 5.57
4.56" x 2.41" x 0.51"
125 | 4.41
4.44" x 2.36" x 0.55"
133 | 4.69
4.01" x 1.98" x 0.55"
124 | 4.37
8.28" x 4.67" x 1.08"
640 | 22.5
4.48" x 2.52" x 0.59"
154 | 5.43
4.17" x 2.38" x 0.68"
147 | 5.18
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.71"
165 | 5.82
4.41" x 2.24" x 0.49"
122 | 4.30
4.41" x 2.28" x 0.73"
140 | 4.94
4.61" x 2.51" x 0.78"
183 | 6.45
4.40" x 2.40" x 0.50"
123 | 4.34
4.01" x 2.00" x 0.45"
110 | 3.88
4.56" x 2.36" x 0.70"
200 | 7.05
4.60" x 2.30" x 0.50"
110 | 3.88
4.30" x 2.40" x 0.60"
120 | 4.23
4.10" x 2.00" x 0.80"
138 | 4.80
4.20" x 2.30" x 0.60"
136 | 4.79
3.70" x 2.30" x 0.60"
126 | 4.44
4.48" x 2.39" x 0.51"
116 | 4.09
4.60" x 2.60" x 0.50"
134 | 4.70
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70
4.10" x 2.10" x 0.60"
150 | 5.30
4.01" x 1.97" x 0.78"
110 | 3.88
4.40" x 2.32" x 0.75"
190 | 6.70
4.69" x 2.40" x 0.85"
196 | 6.91
3.99" x 1.96" x 0.69"
140 | 4.93
4.40" x 2.50" x 0.50"
120 | 4.20

Here's our hardware tour video of the G1.

    The device is a bit larger than what we've been used to lately, but it still feels good to hold. Unfortunately, the build quality is a bit lacking, and you can hear creaking sounds when squeezing the device between the battery cover and sliding screen piece. Even squeezing its sides will make a noise.

    When the screen is slid up to show the keyboard, you still have a big hump on the right side which may interfere with typing characters on the right side of the keyboard. However, it does give you a good grip and easy thumb-access to the trackball, menu button, home and back keys.

With full brightness on, the screen is still fairly usable outdoors during the day. There is no automatic brightness control.

The screen slides out in a loud arching motion to reveal the hardware keyboard. This is the only way you can enter text on the device.

The keyboards buttons are spaced out well, but they're too flat and difficult to feel for.

The hardware buttons are very flat and difficult to feel with your fingers. The small trackball in the middle works quite well and seems to be more accurate than the Blackberries in everything except the web browser.

On the left side, there are volume up/down buttons

Here's a close up of the volume up/down buttons. It's just a simple rocker switch.

At the bottom, you'll see a ExtUSB jack and microphone hole. I've come to love the ExtUSB jack instead of having separate audio/charging/sync jacks because now I only need to plug in one wire to perform all those functions at the same time.

The right side includes a camera button.

The top end is completely void of any hardware buttons or controls.

Here you see a view of the microSD slot. It's a bit difficult to find if you don't know where to look.

    On the back is the 3.2MP camera, along with the reflection mirror, the external speaker and a "with Google" logo.  Is that a complete sentence?  What is with Google?  There is some nice space to the left of that logo to place your own words as stickers. The battery cover here on the back is made of a rubbery "soft touch" material very similar to that which was introduced with the HTC Prophet (i-mate JAMin).

Behind the battery cover is the 1150mAh battery and SIM card slot.

Here you'll see from left to right, the Touch Diamond, T-Mobile G1, Blackberry 8820, and Treo 800w. 

Here you can see a comparison of the thickness. From top to bottom you see the T-Mobile G1, HTC Touch Diamond, Palm Treo 800w, and Blackberry 8820.

Here is a hardware tour video.

Click on over to the next page we'll talk all about the G1's software.

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