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T-Mobile G1 Review

T-Mobile G1 8.5

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There is no way to sugar coat it; the camera sucks.  Pictures turned out badly in all lighting conditions.  Colors were washed out, images were hazy and grainy and fine details were fuzzy at best.  As you can see from one of our sample shots the camera just plain messed up.  There really is nothing good to say about the camera other than that Android gives users the option to geotag pictures with GPS location information.  There are no settings, what you see is what you get, and what you get is terrible.  We’ve seen better image quality images from VGA phones, the G1’s performance is flat out unacceptable for a 3.2 megapixel module with autofocus.   Furthermore, right now there is no video capture.  Developers, get working!

Outdoor samples - T-Mobile G1 Review
Outdoor samples - T-Mobile G1 Review
Outdoor samples - T-Mobile G1 Review

Outdoor samples

High light - Indoor samples - T-Mobile G1 Review
Medium light - Indoor samples - T-Mobile G1 Review
Indoor samples - T-Mobile G1 Review

High light

Medium light


Indoor samples


The G1 is a bit thin on multimedia, and developers need to step up to the plate quickly.  The music player is good enough; it is the only phone we’ve tested besides the iPhone that properly read both ID3 and album art from all six of our test albums, and the interface is intuitive.  It’s nowhere near as pretty as Apple’s interface, but it gets the job done and is certainly not ugly.  AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, MIDI, MP3, WMA, WMV file formats are supported.

Music player - T-Mobile G1 Review
Music player - T-Mobile G1 Review
Music player - T-Mobile G1 Review
Music player - T-Mobile G1 Review

Music player

Options are sparse, you really only get Shuffle and Repeat, but over the air downloads from the Amazon MP3 store make it more robust for sure.  The library is excellent though, on par with Apple for sure and much better than we’ve seen on recent HTC devices.  The miniUSB headset jack is a setback because the included headphones are nothing special and adapters are cumbersome.

There is no native video player, which is a big omission.  We grabbed Video Player from the Android Market.  It's a good, basic solution that plays MPEG4 or 3GPP videos with H.263 and H.264 video and MP3, AAC or AMR audio.  Rotating the device switches between landscape and portrait mode, and videos looked crisp on the large screen.  Like stereo Bluetooth, we're not quite sure how Google approved the launch without such a basic function but this is a perfect example of how developers will plug the holes.

G1 features a stand-alone YouTube client, though it is not as impressive as the one found on HTC Windows Mobile devices.  The functionality is the same, but we prefer the layout of the WinMo client.  In this mode videos play full screen, and looked good even over EDGE.  Over Wi-Fi they were crystal clear.

YouTube client - T-Mobile G1 Review
YouTube client - T-Mobile G1 Review
YouTube client - T-Mobile G1 Review

YouTube client

If Android is going to dethrone the iPhone then it needs to strike at its core.  The iPhone is after all the best iPod ever, and right now the G1 cannot compete.  We look forward to developers bringing new features such as A2DP and a better music and video player, but it’ll be a later piece of hardware, not the G1, which takes down the iPhone.


The G1 runs on a Qualcomm MSM 7201A processor at 528 MHz.  It has 192 MB RAM and 256 MB ROM, and ships with a 1GB microSD card.  It’s not slow, that’s for sure, and animations are smooth and slick.  For instance, the wallpaper is actually a widescreen picture since there are three pages to the homescreen.  You only see the full image by swiping from the left page all the way over to the right, but the picture isn’t simply cut into three segments, one for each page.  Instead the icons/widgets move at a faster rate than the wallpaper.  It’s a bit hard to describe, but a very cool effect that shows off the graphical capabilities of the phone nonetheless.

Google Maps - T-Mobile G1 Review
Google Maps - T-Mobile G1 Review
Google Maps - T-Mobile G1 Review

Google Maps

Google Maps is the default maps application, and runs extremely well.  Everything is incredibly smooth, and it’s pretty much like a desktop experience.  The G1 has built in GPS, but it didn’t work all that well for us.  When it was able to determine a location at all it was usually off by a mile or so.  We’ve never experienced this with Google Maps on Windows Mobile, OS X or Palm so we’re surprised to see it on the G1.  Hopefully some software optimizations will fix this shortly.

Like Apple’s App Store, the G1 and Android really come to life with the Android Market.  Here the user can download programs that extend the capabilities of the phone.  Since Google has released everything for Android’s source code we expect to see some amazing apps in the future.  There will eventually be paid applications, but until the end of the year everything is free.  Some developers are taking advantage of this and giving free applications that simply point to paid ones, others- such as EA- are holding out on developing until they can make money, but there are hundreds of applications available just a week after launch.  Some are definitely more useful than others, but with Google’s “everyone is welcome” policy we expect to see applications that will appeal not only to the masses but also to niche crowds.  This will eventually allow users to truly make their device their own, and in the end that’s what it’s all about.

  • Options

posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. (unregistered)

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

posted on 04 Nov 2008, 12:39 1

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

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 23:41

14. (unregistered)

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

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 23:47

16. (unregistered)

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

posted on 10 Nov 2008, 14:01

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.

posted on 04 Nov 2008, 15:37

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.

posted on 05 Nov 2008, 08:28

8. PhoneArena Team (Posts: 258; Member since: 27 Jun 2006)

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

posted on 04 Nov 2008, 21:37 1

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.

posted on 04 Nov 2008, 21:43 1

5. (unregistered)

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

posted on 04 Nov 2008, 22:49

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.

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 23:45

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?

posted on 07 Nov 2008, 16:24

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.

posted on 13 Nov 2008, 18:49

26. Rytr23 (Posts: 5; Member since: 13 Nov 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.

posted on 05 Nov 2008, 02:48

7. veneoth (unregistered)

nice reading good work

posted on 05 Nov 2008, 13:56 1

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.

posted on 10 Nov 2008, 14:04

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

posted on 05 Nov 2008, 19:58

10. kai (unregistered)

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

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 18:09

11. crd22 (Posts: 77; Member since: 15 Apr 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.

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 19:06

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

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 23:47

17. (unregistered)

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

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 19:05

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.

posted on 06 Nov 2008, 23:48

18. (unregistered)

I guess the glass feels like plastic then.

posted on 07 Nov 2008, 00:09

19. (unregistered)

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

posted on 08 Nov 2008, 09:40

22. (unregistered)

No Actually it doesnt feel Plasticy at all sorry

posted on 08 Nov 2008, 09:43

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.

posted on 07 Nov 2008, 06:15

20. person (unregistered)

the iphone 3g can be hacked. ive done it

posted on 13 Nov 2008, 18:52

27. Rytr23 (Posts: 5; Member since: 13 Nov 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..

posted on 14 Nov 2008, 21:48

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.

posted on 09 Dec 2008, 14:02

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.

posted on 09 Dec 2008, 14:04

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.

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Display3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixels (180 ppi) TFT
Camera3.2 megapixels
Qualcomm MSM7201A, Single core, 528 MHz
0.2 GB RAM
Size4.60 x 2.16 x 0.62 inches
(117 x 55 x 16 mm)
5.57 oz  (158 g)
Battery1150 mAh, 6.76 hours talk time

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