Finally, an Android phone in my hot little hands

Finally, an Android phone in my hot little hands

Summary: The T-Mobile G1 arrived stealthily on my door step yesterday evening, its unassuming white Tyvek shipping bag giving no hint as to Android-y goodness inside... Here are my initial impressions, both good and bad.

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The T-Mobile G1 arrived stealthily on my door step yesterday evening, its unassuming white Tyvek shipping bag giving no hint as to Android-y goodness inside...

Matthew Miller posted a mammoth G1 review and picture gallery a few days ago, so if you're looking for unboxing photos that's the place to go. I do have a few initial impressions to add, however.

Objects in emulator are larger than they appear

First of all, the G1 is tiny. I guess staring at the Android emulator on my computer for 12 months had me expecting a much larger brick of a device, but this thing is about the size of the Blackberry 7130 it is replacing. It fits snugly into the Blackberry case too. It's thicker than an iPhone, but narrower; about as big as a deck of cards but longer.

Click, clack, moo

The keyboard slides out with a satisfying "clunk" sound. There is no shortage of keys there: there are dedicated keys for all the numbers, and even a key for the at (@) symbol. Two keys, actually, if you count the normal shift-2 to get @. For some reason I find the rise to prominence of the @ sign amusing. I wonder what Christopher Sholes, inventor of the Qwerty keyboard would think. His first keyboard didn't even have an @ sign (or a zero or one for that matter).

The position of the Return key and Delete keys  are currently driving me batty but I suppose I'll get used to it. The backlighting is a nice touch. By the way, after looking at the Black, White, and Brown models, I recommend the Black G1 because its matching black keyboard works much better with the backlight.

Say cheese

The built-in camera is nothing to write home about, but it works well enough. Focusing on close-up items (like barcodes) could be faster. Don't sell your regular camera just yet.

This little Android goes to Market

One of the first things I did with the phone was to download every application on the Android Market (well, tried to, more in a second). Downloads are *much* nicer than on the iPhone because they're all done in the background. You get a little notification when it's done. I'm afraid some users may be scared by the permission questions though - they're a little too much "in your face". Some permissions (like "full Internet access") seem harmless to me, so why should the user have to approve that? And "Phone calls/read phone state" is misleading - I'm pretty sure those apps that need it are not trying to make phone calls behind my back.

Man, it's crowded in here

Speaking of applications, I'm sorry to say the G1 has a serious flaw: a terrible lack of space for installing programs. There's under 128MB free in the current model. When I tried to download a bunch of apps from the Market I quickly used that up. Does anybody remember the bootstrapping programs we used to have to use on the Treo to load programs from the memory card? Looks like we need something like that for the G1. That's a shame.

Turn that thing down!

Nobody will complain that the G1 isn't loud enough. You would have laughed if you'd seen me scrambling to find the volume controls the first time I tried out CB Blackjack from Hudson Soft. Yikes! And by the way, is there some reason all their games feature a scantily clad model named "Charlene"? If my wife is reading this, I had to run it for my readers dear.

Keep a charger handy

After charging the battery all night I started playing with it this morning and the battery was dead by noon. I had WiFi and GPS turned on but we don't get 3G in my area so that was off. Screen brightness was set to about 40%.

Fast forward >>

The T-Mobile G1 is the first Android "gPhone" phone to hit the market, so it's bound to have a few rough edges, metaphorically speaking. What's really interesting about the G1 is the Android software and operating system that power it, and the application ecosystem that will grow around it in the weeks and months ahead.

Yesterday, Google released the full source code to Android. And Monday, anyone with $25 and Internet connection will be able to upload applications to Android Market. In "early Q1 2009", Google will allow developers to collect real money for their wares, taking 30% off the top for "carriers and billing settlement fees". Alternate marketplaces are springing up all over, and there are a boatload of Android books either available now or on the way. It's an exciting time to be a mobile developer.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Telcos

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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18 comments
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  • How long did you have to wait in line?

    was it anything like the lines seen for the iPhone?
    GuidingLight
  • ZZZZZzzzzzzz

    Not buzzed just sleeping through the release of the Zune of
    Phones.
    menk
  • iPhone also downloads apps in background, by the way

    (nt)
    Zukuzu
    • Background downloads

      I have both the iPhone and gPhone. I'd call iPhone downloads only semi-background because they interfere with each other and with trying to run anything else in the foreground. On the G1, I started 10 downloads at once and there was no impact on other programs that I could see.
      Ed Burnette
      • Yes, for some reason Apple decided that average user would download

        one app a time, wait until done and then start playing with it. It kinda makes sense. Mac actually is full of such assumptions but many people seem like it.
        BUT, let see how happy T-Mobile will be when people start batch downloads over its 3-G network ;)
        Zukuzu
    • Who cares?

      The iphone is a lovely piece of kit if it ticks your boxes.

      Others amongst us need a keyboard more than we need other 'features'.... hence why we look at other gadgets. This might not hit the mark, but who cares that the iphone does something better. And yes, the battery life is useless if it's as bad as he says BUT I guess you can carry a spare if need be. Downloading apps in the background is seriously way down my list of desired features.
      johnmckay
  • I pre-ordered on the web

    so I didn't have to wait in line.
    (oops that was supposed to be a reply to GuidingLight)
    Ed Burnette
  • Got mine yesterday...

    ...and its been great. I fail to see what this would have in common with a Zune outside of choice of brown. This little thing has almost replaced my laptop for non keyboard intensive stuff in just a matter of a day.

    My only complaints so far are the lack of the rest of the Google apps. I want to see Picasa for Android and integration with Picasa web. We're having a child next week and I would love to be able to push all the photos to Picasa web right from the phone and just send out a link instead of the individual photos.

    Aside from that it was worth the wait for what I wanted in a smartphone.
    storm14k
  • What happened to all the developer and developing?

    I've read where there was like 13 apps available? I mean for
    months now I've been reading about how Apple's SDK had
    stiffled developers and everyone and their mother was
    developing for the GPhone. I expected a much larger list of
    Apps since they've had the tool kits and time to develop.
    Also since there we soooooooo many of them to develop.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Besides the fact that there are more than 13 apps...

      ...when you visit the app store from an actual phone....

      The App Market isn't even open to developers yet. The apps out there are through some launch agreement with Google. Try again when developers can actually put their apps on the market.
      storm14k
  • Thanks for clearing that up

    [i]The T-Mobile G1 is the first Android Phone phone to hit
    the market, so it's bound to have a few rough edges,
    [b]metaphorically speaking[/b].[/i]

    Good to know. Otherwise I would have been afraid that I
    might cut my hand when using this phone.
    Marcos El Malo
  • Hairy hands?

    LMAO 'Hot little hands'?

    Were your pants wet when you opened the box?

    What we have learned so far from your review is:
    The battery is worse than the iPhone.
    The phone has some 'rough edges'.
    All will be well when they fix it in your opinion.

    Too funny! I didn't see you guys review of the iPhone be so forgiving! How do you know that everything will get better? Are you Nostradamus?

    Monday, more apps....Tuesday, the first virus for the G1. No policing.

    Have fun bootstrapping.

    I swear ZDNet is paid by Google.
    GoneFromZDnet
    • Apparently ZDNet is paid for...

      ...whoever we're not bashing at the moment.
      Ed Burnette
      • Wow

        Thank you for confirming that you are being paid for by Google for pumping up their phone.

        Your post could not be construed as anything but an admission and I am really surprised at that. At least that is now cleared up.
        GoneFromZDnet
        • I'm not surprised

          seeing another fanboy here.
          massivegas
          • Definition

            [b][i]fanboy[/b][/i]

            A pathetic insult often used by fanboys themselves to try and put down people who don't like whatever it is they like. See fool.

            [i][b]Googlejerk[/i][/b]

            A person obsessed by the Android platform and who gets upset at anyone not posting anything glowing about the platform or any phone associated with it.

            The first is a real definition. The second I am submitting to Wikipedia.
            GoneFromZDnet
        • zero comprehension of sarcasm... :\ nt

          nt
          T1Oracle
          • ^^^^ Zero Comprehension of sarcasm....

            ....on top of sarcasm.

            If the author has time to post a snide answer then the points on my original jibe could have been dealt with or defended such as, battery life, 'rough edges', etc. Instead of calling me a basher. The credentials of the author don't impress me, only the quality of the article.

            Not a basher....Just giving a little back of what I got on these boards for even daring to like an iPhone.

            Obviously the Googlejerks can give but not take.

            Typical ZDNet hack.

            Again for all you in need:

            [i][b]Hack[/i][/b]

            A writer who is paid to write low-quality, quickly put-together articles or books.

            Should we all get paid for so little work in this scary economic world where people in our own country are starving.
            GoneFromZDnet