iPhone Life magazine

G1 shootout...and uh, unboxing!

This week I had the priviledge of reviewing the T-Mobile G1. The new phone that runs Google's Android operating system. I'm working up an article focused on product comparisons with the iPhone (and by extension, the touch), but wanted to post a few early screenshots and thoughts. I must say, I regret to have to send it back (it's an eval unit)... The iPhone wins the opening round no doubt, but version 2 of the flexible G1 might be a different story.

The new toy...can I keep it, Ma? No son, you must release it back into the wild...

The G1 came in a standard but colorful cardboard box that was pleasingly compact. The unit ships snug in a soft foamy little square at the top of the box, so it is facing you when you first open it. Underneath are all the accompanying goodies, like USB cable, headphones (USB headphones, but with a little control unit and volume thingy built in), and a cheapy neoprene-like case (which is not that great), etc. A decent product manual is included in the sleeve you see to the left.

G1 unpacked...

 

Finally I get to touch it...

The phone is practically svelt enough (width-wise) to probably be included in the candy-bar category of mobile phones. It's a little trimmer than either the iPhone or iPod touch, yet markedly longer and thicker than either. This is due to the fact it has a fold out screen that reveals a keyboard. The bottom of the unit includes typical phone oriented buttons for primary functions like making/answering calls or navigating to the home screen. The surprising addition is the added trackball in the center. The phone's GUI screens can be navigated via the 3.17" touch-screen, or trackball. Folding out the keyboard as pictured above will automatically cause the display to rotate to landscape mode.

Starting up...can't wait...

Android takes a while to start up (about 45 seconds), and I won't go into too much of the operating environment in this post, but a few things like starting the camera (by using the camera button) were not as snappy as on the iPhone. Since screen rotation does not occur automatically based on an accelerometer (like with iPhone), it's probably not a fair comparison, but flipping the screen open brought landscape up nearly instantaneously in my testing. For much of the comparison I used both my son's iPhone and my iPod touch. The G1 has a volume control on the upper left side, and a micro-SD slot along the lower-left edge (esentially just under where you see the green call button). The unit comes with a 1GB card inserted. The slot is covered (same for the miniUSB port), with a plastic cover that can be a devil to get loose.

more size comparison shots for reference...Blackberry, G1, iPhone (L-R)

I'm certainly no audio expert, but one of the first things I wanted to try out (after setup, which I'll go into in more detail in another post), was to see how the player/audio sounded up next to my iPod touch (which I think is outstanding). I particularly wanted to test sans and with headphones. So, I loaded up some of my favorite classic rock mp3s (as well as a few other music genres) on the G1. This is very easy to do, by the way (no iTunes involved). I simply mounted the G1 to my computer like a thumb drive, and transferred the files to the micro SD card. The G1's player had added the new songs to the library when I started the app. I was amazed at the clarity of the little internal speakers of both units, but then iPods have always amazed me. The G1 actually pushed a higher volume through it's tiny speaker (without significant distortion) than my iPod. However when the headphones went on, the story was different. The iPod sound was markedly richer and I can of course blow out my ear-drums with it. Not so with the G1, but it does get points for the nifty control bulb that's is attached to the headphone cord. The sound was still quite good on the G1, but still not quite up to the level of the Touch. I used the factory provided Apple headphones on the iPod, and the miniUSB headphones provided with the G1.

Head2head with my iPod...

Well, that's enough fun for now. Like I said, I will be doing a full review post here soon so stayed tuned! I really like the G1 phone, and I think we will be seeing a lot more of it. It packs in an impressive list of features, but it's not quite reached the nirvana that Apple enjoys with the iPhone...yet. To see my early comparison of the G1 and Android OS (written while still waiting for the unit), go here on my other smartphonemag blog, which is more Windows Mobile specific.

The G1s backside...Camera button--top left side...

 

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Nate Adcock's picture

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.drupalgardens.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.