As the first publicly released smart phone running the Open Handset Alliance's Android mobile operating system, the T-Mobile G1 with Google is a qualified success. But while packed with innovative features and well-designed capabilities, the device is also overrun with a raft of small, first-generation bugs and idiosyncrasies.
Despite the problems, as a consumer, I would be happy to get a G1 when my current service contract expires, if only to take advantage of what should be a vibrant developer community. However, for corporate mobile administrators, I would recommend waiting-until the bugs are fixed, until more corporate features and applications come out, and until more models are available. Companies considering Android adoption should start their internal development programs, however.
The T-Mobile G1 with Google represents a collaboration of several companies. HTC designed the hardware-which is a significant leap over HTC's last generation of devices-and Google filled the device with tight hooks into its cloud-based suite of applications and services.
The T-Mobile G1 for Google will be available Oct. 22, but the carrier is taking preorders now. The smart phone will be available for $399 without a service contract, but the price will drop to $179 with a two-year agreement. T-Mobile says the G1 will work with any voice service plan priced $29.99 or greater. Data plans for the G1 come in two flavors: a $25 plan that includes unlimited Web, e-mail and GoogleTalk Instant Messages plus T-Mobile HotSpot access and 400 messages (MMS/SMS/non-GoogleTalk IM); or a $35 plan with the same suite of services plus unlimited messaging.
At rest, the device is not the most visually appealing smart phone, but the modest countenance masks a powerful and easy-to-use piece of hardware. The device I tested came in a flat black color, but T-Mobile is also offering a bronze unit when the G1 launches, with a white one to come later. The device measures 4.60 by 2.16 by 0.62 inches and weighs a moderate 5.6 ounces.
As was widely speculated prior, the G1 is not flat. It has a slight bend near the bottom of the phone (some have dubbed the G1 "the banana phone"), but I found the curve to be less pronounced than anticipated. I actually found it conformed a bit to the natural contours of the face in a comfortable manner, while the unusual shape did not feel odd or out of place in the hand while typing.
The 3.17-inch touch-screen is large, accurate, sharp and bright-almost excessively bright. I found the screen-which supports 320-by-480-pixel resolution-to be almost blinding when used in a dark room at the default settings. Thankfully, it was easy to adjust the brightness using the on-screen Settings dialog box that is quickly accessed via the Menu button.