T-Mobile G1 Review

Remember when the iPhone was going to revolutionize everything?  It was so new, so shiny, so fast, so pretty…and so closed.  Sure, it was eventually cracked, but every time there’s an update it has to be re-hacked, and as of now the 3G still hasn’t been solved.  Apple created a wonderful piece of hardware with an extraordinary operating system, but forgot to make it consumer friendly.  Ok, they didn’t forget, they wanted control over everything and alienated a lot of would-be buyers in the process.  Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the iPhone was an amazing feat of technology but until Apple embraces the whole developer community, not just who they want at the time, the iPhone will never reach its potential.

In steps Google.  The company headquarters may be separated by just nine miles, but the company philosophies are light years apart.  Where Apple looks to control every aspect of the business in order maximize profits, Google has embraced user generated content and makes next to nothing from the general public.  They open up their doors to innovation from anywhere, and then figure out how to make it profitable later.  There is no more perfect example of this than Android, the search giant’s mobile operating system and a shot across the bow of the wireless industry.  And the best part is that it is free.  No licensing fees.  No developer fees.  Nothing.  Anyone can download the entire source code from the website and, with a little innovation and creativity, port it to any device they like.

Of course no movement can succeed without the backing of the industry.  Realizing this, Google created the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) and quickly brought on board some of the biggest names in the wireless world.  Japanese operators KDDI and NTT DoCoMo signed up, along with China Mobile, Telecom Italia, Sprint and worldwide operators Telefónica and T-Mobile.  Samsung, LG, Motorola and HTC represent manufacturers, and big name component companies such as Qualcomm, Intel, NVIDIA and Texas Instruments are members.  Innovative software companies like eBay, Esmertec, Packet Video and Nuance help round out the who’s who member list.

Ok, so what does this all mean?  It is a forward-thinking, consumer-first vision for the future, backed by companies that can make it happen.  T-Mobile USA and HTC have brought the first Dream to reality and released the G1.  As the first device running Android it has had lots of expectations heaped on it, too many most likely.  Android is not about a device, but rather a mobile computing environment and more importantly a philosophy.  Still, as the launch device first impressions are critical and the G1 has a lot to live up to.

Included in the box you’ll find:

•    Li-Ion battery
•    AC adapter
•    USB data cable
•    1GB microSD card
•    miniUSB stereo headset
•    Leather carrying pouch


The G1 is an odd device.  At first glance it has a huge 3.2” capacitive display with a few hard buttons below and trackball navigation.  The screen actually arcs open (more on that later) to reveal a large, 5-row QWERTY keyboard.  The overall design is very minimalistic though, so much so that finding the microSD slot took us a bit of search (its unmarked on the bottom left, if you’re wondering.)  It’s definitely on the large side, but it still manages to feel pretty good in the hand.

You can compare the T-Mobile G1 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The phone currently comes in two hues, black and bronze (brown,) and will be available in white later this year.  The screen dominates the front, and the small area below is houses the navigational keys and trackball.  This portion actually curves out a bit, giving the G1 a protruding chin.  It’s a small but noticeable design measure, and makes typing more comfortable.  The HVGA (320x480) screen is gorgeous.  It is large, easy to read and videos look great(when you can play them, again, more later). Like the iPhone it uses capacitive technology, meaning that you must use a bare finger to operate it.  It is plenty responsive, though without Multi-Touch and a glass screen it doesn’t feel quite as good as Apple’s.  Usability isn’t an issue; it takes a second to get used to, but afterwards we had no problems.  A quick tap doesn’t always open applications, you have to hover for the slightest second, and this is most likely on purpose so as to reduce accidental screen presses.

In true Google fashion the navigation keys are very simplistic.  The trackball sits in the middle (it has been shown to be the same one used on BlackBerry devices) with a rectangular menu button above.   To each side sits two round keys; Send and Home to the left, Back and End to the right.  They offer good feedback and there is no doubt when they have been pressed.

The left side of the phone has a slightly raised volume rocker near the top, and the aforementioned microSD slot stealthily integrated into the chin.  The slot is somewhat hard to get open, and recessed enough that those with short nails may have problems getting the card in and out.  The right side simply features a camera key just before the chin break.  The miniUSB charging/data/headphone jack is covered on the bottom of the phone.  The back offers more minimalism.  The 3.2 megapixel camera is set next to the small speaker.  TThe words “with Google” are screen printed in the middle; that and the T-Mobile and HTC logos are the only markings on the phone.

The screen slides to the right to reveal the large QWERTY keyboard.  Uniquely it does not simply slide, but rather moves in an arcing motion.  We’re not sure if there is any advantage to this, we certainly didn’t see one, but it is cool nevertheless.  It is a very heavy slide, but not too much so.  Animations are generally as smooth as can be, but it does take a second for the screen to re-orientate when open and closed.  The delay is less than a second, and nothing like delays we see in other operating systems such as Windows Mobile.

The keyboard is very big, one of the better keyboards we’ve used.  Keys are large and well spaced, they are a touch shallow but there is no wondering if you’ve pressed them or not.  Unlike devices such as the Bold and Touch Pro, the G1’s keys are staggered like you find on a real keyboard, making typing more natural.

We’ll be honest, while there are some nice design touches such as the chin and staggered keyboard the G1’s design doesn’t wow us.  Perhaps this is intentional, after all Android is about the OS not the hardware, but it seems rather pedestrian for such a highly anticipated device.  That said, the design is a good one it appears HTC went with usability over wow factor.  For as much as the iPhone and Diamond have pushed touchscreens into the forefront, giving up a keyboard is still not a sacrifice everyone will make.  One thing we will chastise HTC for is the lack of a 3.5mm jack, though this comes as no surprise as only the Touch HD has ever had one.  Another thing is that the phone is creaky.  It’s not loose or anything, but there are a lot of plastic on plastic creeks as we squeeze various areas.  Short of this there is nothing really wrong with the G1, we just wish there was more.  Some rumors have the Touch HD being loaded with Android and rebranded the G2, which we would be perfectly fine with.



1. unregistered

This has gots to be the ugliest 3g phone for 2008

2. unregistered

I think the word "ugly" is becoming redundant for the G1 already. I think anyone with eyes can see its not that attractive but the phone is a joy to actually "use". I want my women sexy i want my phone functional. Great review guys

14. unregistered

whaT? I don't see the relationship between sexy women and a functional.

16. unregistered

He means he prefers things to be practical. And yes, I also mean the women.

24. unregistered

I mean I love sexy women and I love functional phones. I dont need my phone to be "sexy" as long as it does what it is supposed to do. I for one dont find the phone ugly but it wont win any beauty contests either.

3. unregistered

In regards to the video player, you can make it play in landscape mode. The video player takes advantage of the accelerometer, if you rotate the phone it will rotate to landscape view.

8. PhoneArena Team

Posts: 258; Member since: Jun 27, 2006

Thank you! Not quite sure how we missed that, but we've updated the review accordingly!

4. Armo unregistered

the arch-like slider is meant to keep the phone more sturdy.....and it worked. but i would never had said this but after reading this review u should rename ur website to iPhoneArena.com or HateG1Arena.com this phone is clearly a great phone. the cam isnt as bad as u made it to be. "Android is still immature". oh please! get over urself. android would get the stupid iPhone OS and still have room for Symbian you retard. i get u taking a FEW points off under corporate but 7!! r u kidding me!!! this deserves at least a 7 or 8. and saying "Until Android’s security is proven we have a feeling most will stay away" is the stupidest thing i have ever heard! thats why theres about half a million sales already if not more. this deserves a minimum of an overall 9.5 rating and definitely is an award winner. i cant believe i wasted my time reading this.

5. unregistered

did you not read the entire first part of the review where they bashed apple? jesus, you people are retarded...

6. Armo unregistered

u call that bashing? wat they said was that the iPhone was extroadinary but was close sourced unless hacked. and that the G1 was the opposite. why dont u try interpreting wat u read next time.

15. unregistered

okay, we're sorry that the whole world doesn't like the G1 as much as you guys do. I apologize on everyone's behalf for not worshipping the phone and giving it a 10/10. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive us?

21. Armo unregistered

i dont love the G1. in fact i dont plan on ever owning one. but its a great phone. and to ur comment, u say that the whole world doesnt like the G1. thats fair. but, the whole world, especially phonearena, loves the iphone, which is a piece of crap. that was fair too.

26. Rytr23

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 13, 2008

It is rev1 of an OS you moron.. of course it's not "mature". Are there thousands of apps for it you tool? A history of any sort? Stop with the stupid juice.. How is it a 7 or 8 when this phone CANNOT EVEN SYNC WITH EXCHANGE you f*@kwit? Is there a notes sync? VPN built in? Can my company put a policy on the device and wipe it if it gets lost or stolen? NO? THEN IT"S NOT READY FOR BUSINESS! I can;t believe I'm feeding an obvious troll... Anywho.. It seems pretty obvious you have very little idea about ...anything.

7. veneoth unregistered

nice reading good work

9. unregistered

This phone is cheap looking and Android need at least 1 more year in development to be ready for prime time. I would definitely get an Android phone next year, but definitely not the G1.

25. unregistered

This phone is not very photogenic. I promise if you actually get a chance to use one you will see that its not cheap looking at all. The phone has a nice weight to it and the sliding mechanism is very sturdy. The touchscreen responsiveness is in the same category as the iphone, no other phone comes close

10. kai unregistered

want to see how Android store catch up app store. the stong thing about the iphone is the app store!

11. crd22

Posts: 77; Member since: Apr 15, 2008

Personally, I think the G1 actually looks pretty cool (in black). It's pretty good phone too, but.... There's a few things they need to work out: the raised button area is sorta annoying when typing, no video recording (!!!!), absolutely zero camera settings, no onscreen keyboard (least of the problems though), the browser isn't that good (my opinion)-is there gonna be Opera Mobile?, and more widgets for the home pages. Overall, this is a very good phone.

13. Galen20K unregistered

I own this phone and I am Absolutely Pleased with it on all levels including its Retro-Future style Design. Its just Amazing and Compliments Android Very Well. - D

17. unregistered

I don't think that is going to be the future of the mobile phone design in this century

12. Galen20K unregistered

I've read Several Times that the T-Mobile G1 in fact has a "GLASS" screen that was said to have been Confirmed by HTC itself. In your Review you had mentioned that it lacked that which it doesn't.

18. unregistered

I guess the glass feels like plastic then.

19. unregistered

ive felt it too, and it sure feels like plastic. theres definitely some drag to it

22. unregistered

No Actually it doesnt feel Plasticy at all sorry

23. unregistered

yea there's no drag at all I have no idea what those other two people were thinking, I'm guessing they don't actually own the phone and haven't spent nearly Enough time with it. Please know what you're talking about before you post, regardless if its Anonymous or not.

20. person unregistered

the iphone 3g can be hacked. ive done it

27. Rytr23

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 13, 2008

Great Review. If T-mobile had a larger footprint I might consider picking one up.. Oh and if there was some other way to sync accounts.. I'm not quite ready to put all my faith in Google for storing my info..

28. NDPTAL85 unregistered

Uh how did Apple forget to make the iPhone consumer friendly? And 'alienated a lot of would-be buyers in the process'? You mean the extremely small percentage of buyers who are geeky enough to even know what Linux is right? All those hundreds and hundreds of people right? The iPhone just passed the RAZR as the #1 most sold phone in the US. Somehow I think Apple got it right. Lets see if the G1... or any Android phone can match those sales numbers.

29. kool kidz unregistered

the G1 is a great phone and is 1337 pwnage and owns ur faces off and you all wish you had one.

30. WCK 4 LiFe unregistered

i agree with kool kidz, the iphone is nub compared to the G1. the G1 is so beastly that if it could piss then its pee would cure cancer.
  • Display 3.2" 320 x 480 pixels
  • Camera 3.2 MP
  • Processor Qualcomm MSM7201A, Single core, 528 MHz
  • Battery 1150 mAh(5.83h 3G talk time)

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