So I got my T-Mobile G1 Android phone yesterday, and boy am I excited! I had mixed feelings about it initially because I wasn't so sure of the form factor. I remember thinking that it looked a little clunky, but now that I have it here, in my hand, I have to say that it feels well-made and rather solid. The exterior is made of plastic, and it feels smooth to the touch and not cheap at all. The keyboard slides out smoothly and I've had no problem typing on it. The interface is pretty snappy. I was actually surprised at how smooth and responsive it was. As far as the interface is concerned, the only issue I have is with the zooming. It may just be that I haven't figured out to activate it reliably. I guess they had to go with this method because Apple is trying to patent the "pinch" motion for zooming. I think that is completely stupid, of course, and the patent office should throw it out.
Anyway, so once I picked up the phone I opened up the package and carefully laid everything out. T-Mobile sent me another SIM card with it, which didn't work; I guess you have to activate it. But that really wasn't a problem since I have my old SIM card. Once I put it in the phone and hooked up the new battery, I started up the phone. When it firsts starts up, it asks you for your Google account information so that you can sync everything with your phone. As soon as it synced up (which happened within a matter of seconds), I was good to go. I started off by trying to import my contacts from the SIM card. This is where I came across a problem. Apparently (I could be wrong, I was too impatient to explore more options) you can't import all your SIM contacts in one go. You have to do it one by one. I found that a little annoying. You can either import your contacts one-by-one, or import them all in one go by hitting the Menu button and then choosing the Import all option. As soon as I had my contacts imported, I started exploring the other options. The home screen is pretty sweet. You can drag and drop icons on there, and swipe left and right to either add more icons or run google search. In addition to GMail, you can add other POP3/IMAP accounts and you can also use other IM networks in addition to GTalk. The G1 also has a music player and a bunch of sample tracks (including Flight of the Conchord's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room"). The phone doesn't have a headphone jack, so you have to get a USB to 3.5mm converter. The Bluetooth works fine and synced up to the Hands-free Link in my Acura without any problem. Although, like the iPhone, you can't transfer files via bluetooth. I imagine that they will fix this eventually. The phone also has a feature where you can set up a "pattern" to unlock it. You have to "draw" a pattern on the screen connecting nine dots (laid in a 3x3 grid pattern) to unlock the phone. The other cool thing was the "Compass Mode" in the Google Maps street view. The phone adjusts the street view based on where you're pointing it, and so the scene on the phone actually moves when you move the phone. It's pretty neat!
So, my opinion? As far as a phone (or PDA) goes, I think that the G1 is pretty solid. I know that some reviewers claimed that they didn't think it would really appeal to most people. However, I think that it will. It has a pretty slick interface and a lot of neat features. Additionally, I think the demographic it will appeal to most, is people like me - developers and people who like to play with neat gadgets. I know that once I get some more time on my hands, I'm going to try and develop stuff on it. iPhone killer? I don't know. But I think the G1's strength is that it is completely open. In effect, it is the antithesis to the iPhone, or the anti-iPhone. Google doesn't control the G1 (or Android) as strictly as Apple controls the iPhone, and especially with regard to the SDK. Google seems to want to encourage developers whereas Apple seems to want to encourage them only as long as they play by Apple's rules. Consider also the fact that if you do want to develop for the iPhone, you can only do it on a Mac. Whereas you can develop apps that will run on Android on Windows, Mac, or Linux. I guess we'll have to wait and see. But for now, I'm just happy to have a cool new toy er... I mean, phone!
I've noticed a lot of queries to this blog post regarding the importing of SIM contacts into the G1. The process is quite simple:
- Swipe the dock at the bottom of the screen upwards to access the G1's menu.
- Select Contacts from the menu.
- Hit the Menu button and then select Settings
- You should now see "Sync Groups" and "SIM contacts importer"
- Select SIM contacts importer. You should now be able to import your contacts.
- If you want to import them all in one go, hit Menu and then select Import all
As a general rule, if you're having trouble finding (extra) options, hit the Menu button. It should show you a few more options.
The G1's outer box
The G1's inner box
The G1 inside the box
The G1's accessories and manuals. The accessories you get are a carrying case, battery, headphones, USB cable, and charger. Oh, and you get a SIM card too (if you ordered through T-Mobile's website)
The G1 inside the box
The T-Mobile Android G1
G1 side view
G1 keyboard flipped out
G1 keyboard flipped out
G1 displaying Google Maps
G1 displaying Google Maps (side view)
G1 displaying Google Maps Phoenix Satellite View (side view)
G1 displaying Google Maps Street View
G1 displaying vivin.net
The G1 in its case