Commonly known as ‘The Google Phone‘ the G1 is the first mobile phone to use the Android operating system built by Google. Now, straight away I run into the problem a lot of the online and more technical reviews have – do you review the hardware or software? The other problem is that reviewing technology now is that it is a moving target because you can upgrade, patch or add applications to it.
So, I will start with the hardware…. one of the first things I was interested in (because it isn’t possible to tell from online reviews) is the build quality. I like it. It feels solid, the action of opening the screen to access the keyboard feels smooth and robust. It does feel like it will hold up to wear and tear (I hope!!). The keyboard itself is very easy to use, with a positive response it is really designed just to use with your thumbs rather than hold in one hand and type with the other – however this is fine and unlike a stylus operated keyboard you always have your thumbs with you (hopefully – and with apologies to those without thumbs).
Unlike the iPhone (which is obviously the closest competitor and what all phones are measured against now) there are a small number of useful buttons and controls, answer/make a call, hang up/off, back, home, menu and a small trackball which is extremely useful when trying to do precise things like selecting a small link on a web sites rather than having to zoom in till it is big enough to use the touch screen.
The camera is 3.2MP, which is much better (on paper) than the iPhone, but forget it – it’s crap! The delay is awful, the light levels are terrible, response of the shutter button dreadful, no video (although this is supposed to be coming in a software update)… not very good at all.
The touch screen on the other hand is excellent! Apparently it is plastic instead of glass and that is supposed to be a problem according to the reviews – but it is great. I’ve still not removed the original protective sheet that came with the phone and the touch works through it no problem at all. It doesn’t have the gestures that the iPhone has (I think some of this has to do with Apple patenting almost all hand gestures making it difficult for others to use it).
The only connection is a USB cable, so power, connection to PC/mac or headphones all connect to the same socket. This is OK and the headphones that come with it are actually very good, the sound quality is good even just with the built in speaker. Lastly, but worth mention because it is a phone after all, the quality and clarity of the calls is also excellent.
Much mentioned online is also the poor battery life – I have no idea, I am still using it all the time so the battery needs charged every night and often during the day as well :-/ It will take me a while before I’m not using it enough to tell what ‘normal battery life’ is.
G1 is only available from T-Mobile, but that was fine with me. I’ve been with them for a while and haven’t taken an upgrade for some time so I’m on a good low tariff so all I had to do was add the constant web access and I was off.
OK, that’s enough… the Android OS and applications will need to be different posts. Sorry if you’re not interested, but there you go.