2008
09.23

This morning in New York, HTC, Google and T-Mobile put on a press event. The purpose: to introduce the HTC G1, first phone featuring Google’s new mobile operating system, Android.

Featuring tight integration with Google service to the point that the phone syncs only with Google’s calendar and contacts applications (no Outlook sync, but a GMail account is required), the HTC G1, and its Android operating system, is whatever you make it. Like the iPhone, the G1 has a built-in application store. Unlike the iPhone, “Android Market” is completely open; developers are free to publish whatever software they want to the system.

The phone itself is a relatively high-end model, though most of its features are mirrored in other phones of the same price. It has a relatively large (but not iPhone large) touch screen, a Blackberry-like scroll ball for navigation and a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard that looks comfortable enough to type on, if it weren’t for the way the phone is designed: at the bottom (or on the right when the keyboard is open) there’s a bulge that doesn’t move with the screen.

The G1 also sports a 3.2 megapixel camera (that, like the iPhone, can’t do video) and 3G data capability on T-Mobile’s US network. You can also take the phone internationally, and 3G will work there. There is a 1GB limit on data transfer per month, however, and T-Mobile won’t sell you the phone unless you’re in or near their 3G coverage area (we aren’t…yet). The phone also has WiFi built in.

A few nice Google-focused developments on the phone include built-in GMail support with push capability (then again you can do this with any other smartphone via a few ways that I’ll discuss in a lter article) and a version of Google Maps that not only has Street View but actually ill reorient the street view depending on where you’re pointing the phone.

The phone will go on sale October 22nd in areas that have T-Mobile’s 3G network available for $179 with a two-year contract (by the way, Verizon will now let you get their service contarct-free if you pay full price for your phone, but that’s another story). Data plans are either $25 for “unlimited” (1GB then painfully slow thereafter) plus 400 messages (text or multimedia) or $35 for both data and unlimited messaging. These costs are in addition to that of a voice plan, which on T-Mobile can be had for as little as $30 per month.

I’m looking forward to eventually seeing this phone in person…it seems to be missing some features (stereo Bluetooth, also not found on the iPhone…is still in the works) and T-Mobile’s 3G coverage is still extremely limited, but the Android OS holds promise (you can actually buy music from Amazon MP3 right on the phone) and, like Google’s recently released Chrome browser, is open for tinkering for all. As opposed to that crazy amazing slab of plastic, glass and metal that they sell for $200-$300 over on AT&T…

You can find more information on the phone at this site.

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