Android phone hits UK shops

T-Mobile has started selling the first Android device, the G1, in the UK, with Carphone Warehouse to offer the handset from Friday

T-Mobile started selling its G1 phone, which runs on Google's Android platform, throughout the UK on Thursday.

The G1, which is a rebranding of HTC's Dream handset, has touchscreen functionality and a Qwerty keyboard. It uses the open-source Android platform, a full mobile stack including operating system and applications.

As a result, the G1 also provides access to Android Market, where customers can find and download applications for the phone, including mashups. Developers are free to create their own programs for the Android platform and upload them to the Android Market, where they will get 70 percent of revenue for their software.

Daniel Meredith, T-Mobile's UK head of handset and device marketing, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the launch was "incredibly exciting" for the mobile service provider.

"Today marks a step change in where we are going as an industry," Meredith said. "Android opens up communication on a platform that is truly open. The Android community will deliver unique services and applications."

Meredith said that users would be able to give feedback to developers about their applications both on forums and by rating and ranking software on Android Market.

On Thursday, the G1 will only be available from T-Mobile shops, but, from Friday, Carphone Warehouse will also sell the device. The G1 is also available for order online from T-Mobile's UK website and through T-Mobile call centres.

The handset is currently offered through two packages, aimed at individual users. The Combi package, at £40 per month, gives 800 minutes of voice calls, unlimited texts and unlimited mobile internet browsing. The Flext package, again for £40 per month, comes with unlimited internet browsing and up to 1,250 minutes of voice calls, plus up to 2,500 texts. T-Mobile also plans to offer business packages, details of which were unavailable at the time of writing.

The G1 device has a rich HTML email client which synchronises email with POP3 or IMAP services. The Bluetooth and HSDPA-enabled handset also has Wi-Fi connectivity. Its battery life gives five hours' talk time and up to 130 hours' standby.

The G1 is available in black or white, has GPS and a compass, a 3-megapixel camera, an MP3 player, comes with a pre-installed 2GB microSD memory card, and supports up to an 8GB card.