Android Phone Review: G1

By Deane Barker on September 23, 2008

A First Look at Googles New Phone: David Pogue has a pretty good review of the new Android phone — the G1.

Here’s a neat feature:

They’ve even added a feature to Google Maps: in Street View (photos of actual locations taken from ground level), you can hold the phone perpendicular to the ground—and as you turn your body, the photo rotates, too, like a photographic compass, so that it matches what you’re seeing with your eyes. It’s amazing and actually useful, especially when you emerge from the subway and have no idea which way you’re facing.

And Pogue nails the joy right here:

But here’s the thing: Android, and the G1, are open. Open, open, open, in ways that would make Steve Jobs cringe. You can unlock this phone after 90 days—that is, use any SIM card from any carrier in it. The operating system is free and open-source, meaning that any company can make changes without consulting or paying Google. The App store is completely open, too; T-Mobile and Google say they won’t censor programs that they don’t approve of, as Apple does with the iPhone store. Yes, even if someone writes a Skype-like program that lets people avoid using up T-Mobile cellular voice minutes.

Suck it, Steve.



  1. What!! You need someone to control the distribution. Open source means nothing to me, google controls that and if google doesn’t control it then it will become as fragmented as the current linux scene! Anyone can write applications on all the other OS like windows mobile, symbian, apple. What’s disturbing with apple is that once you get sucked into their system, then they will extract as much money as they can from you, you are powerless. Thank you, will stay with Windows mobile, get all my applications for free or write something myself very easy.

  2. Who says the linux scene is fragmented at all…

    You just identified yourself as an extremly uninformed person. Open source is the way of the future and the way everything is moving. If a company can’t adapt to that they are dead.

  3. Open source is the way of the future and the way everything is moving I have been hearing this for 10 years now [I was once a big fan of Linux.] This is not going to happen.

  4. From personal experience using this phone, the pros outway the cons by a long shot. Once it is released, people will come out with all sorts of neat and innovative features for this phone. The open sourse android software is going to revelutionize how we all use our phones. The G1 is so unique it will blow the Iphone out of the water.

  5. hmm I doubt it, this phone does not seem to be anything grand, it has 3 megapixel camera but cant take video’s also there has been reports of the youtube app being overly pixelated. This device doesnt really seem to go head to head with RIM’s blackberry line. What will make or break this device is the apps. That is other then the faster browsing speed. T-mobile also is saying you going to the data package just to make calls, that means the lowest monthly cost $29.99+$35.99 reqired G1 data feature, that $64.98 before tax & any addional featurs. this give’n you 300 min & just free w weekends, with unltd browsing, data & msg (email/txt/picture). Something else you may not know t-mobile will be throttling data speeds. Expected amount 10GB per bill cycle. I wish google good luck but with every new product there are bound to be unforseen problems,

  6. I’m not sure that the G1 supports stereo bluetooth… if not then this and the lack of a 3.5mm jack will be a real blow to those who want to use it as an mp3 player also. I imagine there’ll be converters though.

  7. No, the G1 will not support stereo bluetooth. Seems to me somebody could write some software to fix that though.

    As for headphone jacks, I have the T-Mobile Dash and a couple of years ago I bought an adapter for five bucks similar to this…

    Word is, HTC will be shipping one of these adapters with every G1. Headphones plug right in and it works swimmingly. I’m looking forward to this one.

  8. All I know it will be a product that will make companys compete more and bring new phones out so thats why i know its a great phone

  9. I got my phone last night. Have not had much time to play with it, but so far I like the look and feel of it (my other phone is a Treo 650). The user interface is pretty easy to use …and no it does not ship with a headphone adapter.

  10. So I just went down to look at it. I’ve been intrigued for months. Google phone? Full internet? On the cheapest carrier (and as a result the carrier I use)? woo hoo!

    Well I finally got to see it in person.

    First impression? I was disappointed. When you pick up an iPhone, it’s substantial. You feel like you are holding a $200 phone. Maybe it’s the metal. Maybe it’s the glass. I don’t know. You pick up the G1 and you may as well have picked up a toy. it’s all plastic. Even the screen seemed plastic.

    The phone flips open ala the sidekick to reveal a keyboard. Although slightly better than the sidekick style of opening where you would feel like the screen was just going to fall off, this was not much more impressive. Again, it’s more about feel here, but it felt cheap. It was a very quick, jerking motion, with no smoothness to it. The buttons on the keypad, on the outside of the phone, and the rollerball all seemed to work fine, but still had that “I’m going to break before you even leave the store” feel.

    The salesman came up to me and began to show me the features of the phone on one that he had in his pocket. Despite the weeks of e-mails I got from T-Mobile warning me to pre-order so I could get one before the Second Coming of Christ, the G1’s seemed to be in ample supply, and this salesman was giving me the full court press.

    Alright, so on to the features.

    Initially slated to release with over 50 apps, it only had about 13. Some highlights included a barcode scanner built into the 3MP camera that would tell you on the fly where you could get a product cheaper. Scanning the G1 box sadly produced no hits, but amazon had a great price on the new Indy DVD. While I saw the usefulness of something like this, I wanted to see the meat and potatoes.

    He went on to show me Google Maps, “This comes with something NEW called ‘Google Maps’. You may not have heard of it, but soon everyone will be using it. ” While I grinned through my teeth, the salesman tried to show me the street view functionality moving the phone around to have the street view move. This seemed a bit jumpy but did work.

    It also had features like “Taxi” which upon a press of a single button would find the closest taxi co and call you a cab, and a quick mixology reference to tell you how to make any drink… ho hum…. on to the web .

    The web browser loaded very quick, and did show “the REAL internet”. The zoom function seemed a little wonky, having to either press magnifying glass icons or using a magnify box that would zoom into a particular area. Since there is no multitouch functionality on the G1 this was as close as you were going to get to an effective iPhone style zoom. It was a bit wonky and not the most responsive, but once you got past the bit of jumpiness of the zoom, the pages loaded easily. Sadly even the salesman had yet to get the hang of the zoom feature yet, giving me reason for pause.

    He offered to take my picture and put it on the internet with “your new G1 phone”. I said “Thanks but no. I have enough pictures on the internet for now, thanks.” and left.

    All in all, I know I’m being a little hard on the poor G1. Still, at $179 for a two year contract, or the simply outlandish price of $400 without a contract, I would expect something better than what appears to be a rushed prototype of what could have been a much better manufactured device. I’m sure Android is going to be the mobile operating system of the future. I’m sure there will be more open source apps than you can shake a stick at.

    Until they come up with a better device though (Word is several other phones are already in development) I’m hard pressed to pay iPhone prices for a device that just doesn’t measure up. Drop the price mark by $100, and I’m in. Heck, make it an even $100 and I’m there. This phone is simply not worth what they are charging.

  11. Poe, you should have 30 days to return it. I believe all carriers offer a kind of “trail period”. Look into it.

  12. I received mine today, its by far the best smartphone i’ve ever had. I’ve owned a treo 650, 700 and more then one blackberry, they don’t compare.

    As far as what “M” says about the feel, i couldn’t disagree more, if you want something more substantial, go buy that piece of crap iripoff, with its fancy steel and glass, be distracted by them, away from the lack of basic features like SMS and cut and paste. I’m looking forward to developing java apps for it, thats right, java, not objective C. Not to mention the little fact you can develop on any platform, your not tied to an intel mac with xcode, and any app you release goes immediately to the app market, no BS anti-compete nonsense like with the iripoff.

    Everytime i hear people complain about the lack of functionality or apps it makes me laugh, this isnt your moms nokia 3390, its a completely open and accessable operating system.

    Its developer API allows for hooks directly to the hardware. What this means to the layman is any developer can feel free to write things like: a better media player, video support for the camera, etc. What you should be judging it on is its future prowess and scalability, not its current list of apps, because unlike the icrap, it actually has a future.

  13. yeah My Husband Got it like 2 days ago and when its charging you cant really use it, you cant type well. The tail gets sOOo Hot and the battery life isnt good. =( and where is the white one? i want the white one!

  14. So far I’m not too impressed. The battery life is short. No fun trying to get my contact list (from outlook) into the gmail account. It’s there but many of the numbers and names don’t match up. As well as a whole slew of unkown numbers. I haven’t had a lot of luck with emails either. I’ve had a blackberry for a couple of years and I like the nifty notifications, and visual cue’s. The G1 has a little icon bar at the top that notifies of emails, but it won’t load all the emails from one account and loads all the emails from the other. This could possibly be operator error as I am by no means a tech wiz, but should I have to be? For those that like using your phone one handed, this will also be a problem with the G1 as you have to open the keyboard everytime you want to do anything involving text. Which is just about everything. There is no voice dialing using a bluetooth…which makes no sense since there is voice dialing on the phone. Okay, there is no 3G network in Denver right now and there may be some bugs, but it doesn’t jump on wireless networks as easily as I would have hoped either. Some of the app’s are pretty cool, but what I really need first of all is a good phone. It sounds fine, but with the short battery life, lack of voice dialing with bluetooth and clunky address feature, I’m not sure I’m keeping this thing. I’ll give it another week. If I either can’t figure things out better, or some updates are made (stereo bluetooth…which may account for voice dialing) I’m back to my blackberry till they make a G2.

  15. 24 hours into new G1, left BB Curve. Love the phone but problems prevail. Email won’t download always plus must be leaving me signed in on G1 because desktop email won’t work stating username / password incorrect. Have not tried to load contacts via DOS export in Outlook yet, we’ll see. And although I did not expect full integration with my car BT (07′ MB 300E) it does work but does not always recognize where at least my BB did. This forces me to pair occationally if I leave the car, and come back.

  16. I got the phone Monday. I was upset by a few things. I also had the same issue with getting contacts from Outlook to Gmail and just ended up typing in all the others that did not come over, no biggie, tech support walked me through that and other things to make setting up easier. They have awsome tech support!! With every device, you have to start somethings from scratch. I too had a lot of issues bringing my mail from comcast to this phone. My understanding from Tmobile is that they are working on the with Comcast. I figured out to just have my emails go to gmail and gmail forwards to my phone. Also, my receptions goes on and off, they said that an update is coming, I got it today…didn’t fix it but there is another one coming by Nov. 11th that is suppose to fix it all.

    I don’t like the battery life, but I keep it plugged in when I can. I am unsure if I LOVE this phone or not, I am a bit put off due to the fact that I have had issues with the sidekick (had 3 of those) and the Dash (had 3 of those). I didn’t want to pay the arm and a leg that Tmobile wanted to do for me to go into the Curve, so I decided on the lesser amount and the G1. My understanding from them and talking to others and reviews, this phone is suppose to have some awsome cutting edge capabilities, but do I want to chance it or not?? I am relying on more knowledge based folks that understand all this stuff for their opinions!!

    I like the functionality of being able to lessen the typing by using the touch screen. Love the games!! there are other things I would like on this like Work apps and such, comcast mail to work and other things, but the potential for this phone is unlimited. I am not sure what I am going to do. I would have liked the ability to try it for 30 days in order to get the updates that is needed to see if this will work properly, however, they only offer 14, so I am not sure if I will “stick it out”, or cave and go to the Blackberry Curve. Hard decisions when you have not had a functioning phone for over 2 years!!! But I love Tmobile’s customer service and rate plans….can’t beat them!!

  17. I purchased a G1 phone 3 days ago and plan to return next week. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great multi-media device; watching Youtube is fun, camera is better than most cell cameras, GPS was excellent (until I used it to map driving directions). My problem is I need a business device, I send 30 emails daily and the effort to slide open the keyboard had me pining for my old Blackberry. Shoot, just listening to voicemail requires the cover open to delete a message.

  18. Nothing is better than iPhone3G. I had been a TMobile customer since since the Ariel and Voicestream Days that is a little over 10 years. I could not take the dropped calls delayed text messages and no coverage in Yorbalinda CA or parts of Orange County and elevators so I joined the iPhone3G bandwagon and have not looked back since.

    I use goolge apps on a daily basis so a Google Phone intrigued me. My Bro in Law got for a 14 day trial and the first test we did of the 3G speed G1 failed miserably by popping a message theat network is not available. WTF.

    So here are the bad things mostly about the Carrier TMobile and Some about the phone:

    3G network slow more like 2.5G to not available. 3GB cap monthly for web browsing what happened to unlimited. (TMobile thinks that everyone will drop their iPhone and buy a G1. Keep dreaming TMobile) More dropped calls I think this is a combination of G1 and TMobile Price… are you freakin kidding me $400 for no contract and if you are current customer the upgrade fee is $350.00 if you have upgraded in the past year. Sucks. For a ten plus year customer. Time to join the Death Star ATT. I can confirm that Youtube videos are gariny on 3G and better resolution on WiFi go figure. After using iPhone 3G you really do not like any other interface for navigating apps on the screen G1 screen seemed smaller and less pleasing to the eye

    I would not get one if one fell into my lap for free. Wait for BB Storm. Much better options!

    Good Luck.

  19. I’ve had this phone for 2 weeks and the first week it was amazing but ever since i’ve had nothing but problems. I’m not sure if its me or the phone. Its not a full blown PDA like blackberry. IF your looking for a “social” phone this is it but I was looking for more of a “business” phone and this is definetly not it. The G1 is like an overly upgraded sidekick to me, good for kids good for ppl who dont really need it for business reasons but other then that its completely horrible. Its constantly crashing on me, the Google map i’ve looked at the “street level” feature and it does not do what its advertised to do, at least not for me. The most reliable thing on here is gmail and google talk and I dont use those for business. Tmobile doesnt seem to have a phone thats made for business other then teh blackberry and you can find better blackberrys at verizon. I would not recommend this phone to anyone, maybe my nephew thats it. I’m so disappointed w/ this phone again I realize it could be me thats the problem but in my conversations w/ Tech support it doesnt seem to be the case. This phone is over hyped w/ little substance. I’ve installed some of the applications they have available, some really cool ideas and “toys” but most of them are not fully thought out and dont function very well. DONT BUY THIS PHONE ITS HORRIBLE.

  20. Hands down the G1 is the best phone that I have ever had. I am a “phone whore” and am very hard to please. People are complaining for reasons like, its not a business phone or the headphone jack doesn’t work or even the battery life sucks. It can be a business phone given all of the free applications they provide but if your only complaint is that it takes time to slide open the phone, then the problem is with you. Also you dont have to open the phone to delete voicemails. When a call is in progress there is a little slider at the bottom, like that on the main menu, where you can use the touch screen number pad. On to the headphone jack not being there. Now when you buy the phone, the adapter comes with the phone and free headphones, which are amazing. Last, the battery life sucks on any kind of phone that has such high quality capabilities (i.e Ipaq, Iphone, Treo..etc). Those that are interested in getting the phone, I recommend just getting it. I was a little doubtful at first but once I got it, I have not been happier about a phone.

  21. You just identified yourself as an extremly uninformed person. Open source is the way of the future and the way everything is moving. If a company can’t adapt to that they are dead.

  22. Who says the linux scene is fragmented at all…

    Anyone who has ever used linux knows it’s fragmented. You’re just a die-hard fan if you think it’s not. I’m not saying linux isn’t getting better, but the fragmentation and lack of control is what keeps it on the back burner for longer.

    Why has Apple jumped to the front of the scene lately? Bcause all of their stuff “just kinda works” … well that’s real easy to do when you control EVERYTHING about the computer’s hardware AND software. Except peripherals of course, but whoever said all peripherals work? I can give you a list a mile long of peripherals that don’t work with ease on an Apple.

  23. I have samsung GT-1550-3 android phone. my problem is, if i use the camera and the layar and have a half battery meter my phone will automatically off. It is the problem unit itself. or the samsung application?

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