Saturday root got the G1 phone. Within 24 hours, the geek had conquered the phone. Here is his review:
For those of you that don't know what the G1 is, it's Google's new phone that has the new Android OS (uses a Linux Kernal). It has a flip out keyboard but also a touch screen and a track ball. 1G SD, expandable to
8GB <EDIT> 16GB now </EDIT>. Wifi, 3G/2G, GPS, and Bluetooth. Music player, google's browser (Chrome) for on the go websurfing (not to be confused with mobile spefic sites--this is a real browser), Youtube, POP/IMAP email client, Pictures, 3 megapixel camera, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, and the ability to sync to all your google account features (Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Gtalk)
So let's get right into.
What's worth mentioning:
- Market Place. Android OS means it's open for developers to create apps/games. It's open to all, and with just a 25$ fee for the developers to get into the market place--a built in app that lists all the apps available to the phone--you can see the value straight away. Every day I check the market place and find 3-5 new apps out there. The developers to these apps are also constantly improving their programs with the feedback given to them by their users. This is very much like any Linux package manager but it takes it one step further with feedback directly to the developer. Bugs/Feature requests are heard, and new releases come out relatively frequently (depending on the developer really).
- Apps. There are some truly great, innovative apps out there. Just to name a few: With ShopSavvy you can scan a barcode (taking a picture of it), use your GPS, and find the nearest/cheapest place to buy that product. Parkmark allows you to mark where your car is via GPS and later, after a long day's of shopping, find it again using a radar like screen or a google map. Maps, G1's built in google maps gives you realtime view of where you are at with GPS and directions to where you are going--or the ability to search around you for restraunts/shops while you are walking around. Brain Genius Deluxe, like the nintindo DS's brain age. ConnectBot, a putty-like application allows you to ssh into a server/switch/computer. Dial 0, a huge database of businesses and the automatic shortcut to getting to a human being immediately. Budget Droid, for on the go budgeting. Power Manager, sets rules as to what your settings are (brightness, wifi/3G/2G/bluetooth/GPS/etc) based on how much battery life you have left--allowing you to get the most out of your battery. Locale, which sets up rules based on your location and time of day as to when your phone is on vibrate/silent, or who/when can get your phone to ring (wife calling during a meeting vs your friend or 'that guy'). And of course, imeem, a free internet radio service (a second cousin to pandora)
- Desktop. The desktop has three screens: Left, Middle, Right. This lets you organize icons--or shortcuts--easily or supply widgets. But of course, you can always pull up the master list of apps.
- Search. It's what google does best, and they have a specific key for it on the keyboard. Touch it and it uses contextual searching (if you are in the market place, it will search apps, if you are in the gmail app, it will search your emails, etc)
- Unlock pattern. 9 balls in a square matrix that is the security screen to get in. While optional, very cool to use and very annoying on the gf.
- Track Ball. After a while of using the touch screen/keyboard, you learn to use the trackball as well--which is great for when you are browsing. Very similar to being your mouse.
- 2G. While slower than 3G, it is nice to have the option to only use 2G. Why? Well to conserve battery life.
- 6 in memory. This is both a pro/con--but more so pro for me. How Andriod is built is that it keeps the last 6
programs you've opened in memory. The 7th one (And beyond) get closed.
Holding down the home button, you can do an alt+tab to any of the last 6 you openned.
This is both good and bad. Great idea (your phone will run consistantly
at the same level performance wise), but you don't have the option to specify certain apps being persistant
and not allowed to close--like IM. I use Gtalk, AIM and Yahoo
Messenger. Only Gtalk is always on. If the IM application becomes 7
programs old, it will automatically close it and log you off of
AIM/Yahoo. Thankfully I have a laptop that I use for most of my chatting and only when I'm out and about do I log onto the IM program... and Gtalk is always on... but it's still annoying to not have the option for persistent or being able to close a program (always on until 7th one).
What's not great:
- Keyboard. Don't get me wrong, it's good. It's just that I'd like to have the option of having a soft keyboard. There are a few apps out there that can do it, but none are as asthetically pleasing or as good as the iphone/storm.
- Tilt. All the apps that come standard with the G1 (i.e. google's apps), do not tilt when you turn it sideways... only if you open up the keyboard will it go into landscape mode. Now I have seen many apps out there made by the developers that will go into landscape mode when tilted, even without the keyboard showing. So we know the hardware is there, it's just getting them to code it in--or at least giving us the option.
- No ActiveSync. For the corporate citizens, this is a major downer.
- Touchscreen. Sometimes it doesn't recognize my input. It's not enough to get me frustrated, but it happens enough to have it mentioned here. Mostly happens in the browser with the small links and on the edges of the menu screen.
- Built in Storage. I'm a KDE kinda guy, I like a lot of applications. Unfortunately,at this time, you can only store the apps on the internal built-in storage, not the 1GB SD card. SD card you can upgrade, just not the internal space. There is the option of jailbreaking it (post RC30), but for the layman that's difficult.
- Location of the USB Charger. A small thing but when charging the phone, the wire is in the way of using the phone for internet use (keyboard) for me.
- No 3.5mm Jack. You have to use the connector for charging the battery for the headset
- No Multitouch. Yet.
- Amazon, not iTunes. Which, really, if you don't have itunes music already, this isn't a big deal. Its just that for us iTunes people, who already have a lot of music already, can't play the encrypted drm stuff. Meaning we have to spend the time/money on burning CD's and copying them back to convert it into a non-DRM format. But I'd LOVE to be able to use iTunes, to be able to rent movies and watch it from my G1--but I know that wouldn't ever happen... and if it did, they'd require a wifi connection and that I wouldn't be able to dl it over the 3G network (amazon requires this when dl'ing music anyways).
Now most of the cons are software related issues that could be address in an upgrade or an app, but these hardware related issues is something that won't be fixed until G2 (or whatever the next version is) comes out. The greatest thing I love about this phone, though, is the apps and the developers. The applications you can use the apps for on the go is limitless. And since Google is marketing the Andriod to not just their product (G1) but to anyone that want's to use it as their OS (unlike windows or iphone's os). Now comparing this to iPhone would be silly. It has a long way to go from both a useability and style. But I will say this: In my mind, it's got windows by the balls.
Root's recommendation (strictly phone, not factoring in service): Not worth full price, but worth it if purchased with a contract (or second hand from a trusted, cheaper source). If you want customization and you are OK with banking on the future--with a limited budget for this type of phone--go for the G1. If you want something stylish, better storage, has better hardware (IMO), great for the simpleton, and you don't have a limit on the budget, go iPhone.