T-Mobile G1 Review
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!
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.
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.
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 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.