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Round Robin: T-Mobile G1 / Android First Impressions

By Kevin Michaluk on 30 Nov 2008 07:15 pm EST
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[ This is an official Smartphone Round Robin post! Every day you reply to an official Round Robin blog post or forum thread on CrackBerry.com, you automatically gain an entry ballot for a chance to win a BlackBerry Bold, Spare Bold Battery, and Case Mate Second Skin! ]  

With my BlackBerry Bold now in Jennifer's hands and the Palm Treo Pro I was using last week with Rene (you NEED to watch his video preview), I'm now rock'n the Android-powered T-Mobile G1. The G1 is a slider, and if you rewind to last year's Round Robin you'll remember I've got a thing against sliders (me and the AT&T Tilt did not get along so well). But having been a Google fan boy longer than I've been a CrackBerry Addict (seriously - Google has been my homepage since for over a decade now), I kept an open mind as I picked up the G1 for the first time.

Watch the video above. It's actually pretty positive (minus the sick frog voice I got going on)!! The G1's form factor is a bit wonky and the hardware is a little underwhelming, but moving from the Bold into the G1 was a fairly easy transition to make, with the trackball, back key and menu key providing some of the comforts of 'BlackBerry Home.' What had me most excited was the Android homescreen experience - I'm a big fan of the ease of customization and how fluid it is. Not all is rosy for the G1 though - I'll pick on a lot of things in the longer, follow-up review (which will be coming soon since I'm behind schedule in getting this posted), so stay tuned!

Reader comments

Round Robin: T-Mobile G1 / Android First Impressions

190 Comments

I am very impressed with this phone. Sadly, I'm with Verizon. If I had T-mobile I would ditch my blackberry and buy it in a heart beat. Very cool phone! :-)

I tried it out for a few days and thought it was pretty cool. It will be even cooler when it gets more usable apps developed for it. The technology is neat and will be ultra usable when they get 3g in my area (earlier next year). Would not mind getting one for free!!!

Matthew

Kind of an ugly device, you would think they would have put a little more R&D into the form factor. It doesn't necessarily need to be sleek and leather wrapped like the bold, but it shouldn't look like my TV remote either.

Without any meaningful enterprise support, this is more of a toy than a smartphone. It's a glorified Centro, and not much more. I wonder if the convergence of devices will split again. The iPhone has won over some business users, but it doesn't compare to BB, WinMo or even Symbian S60 phones for enterprise use. Meanwhile, those phones have added multimedia capabilities and social networking (stuff I will probably never use). It wasn't long ago that Blackberries didn't have cameras...on purpose. I think the G1 is a semi-smart phone at best, running beta software. Google is the only company that's almost as arrogant as Apple.

It does have full exchange syncing support(calendar,mail,contacts) due to 3rd party open source support however it doesn't fully support exchange's capabilities. Like remote wiping and enterprise control.

While Android is nice I really did not like the G1 hardware. I just sold my G1 and ordered a Blackberry Storm, I had an iPhone before the G1 and still may go back but I'll give the Storm a good go first.

This phone G1 was in the running for my next phone (after the Storm) and I'm still considering. I agree, this phone is not sexy but it does appear to be pretty functional and the Android software has lots of promise. I'm looking forward to the evolution of this phone and application.

could turn out to be great once it gets more developed, but the G1 will never make me want it...the device it's self is hideous looking and HTC should be ashamed of it :P

Hey Kevin, how do you like Vimeo compared to YouTube? The quality of the video looks a lot better I think. I also want to compliment you on the great job you do in these videos. I've watched a few of the other SPE editors and your videos always seem professional and polished compared to some of theirs.

Okay, not to be a traitor, but I really liked the G1. I loved the interface and the flexibility, and the combo touchscreen/trackball. its ugly though, and the keyboard SUCKED, and that alone might keep me away from it. that and Tmobile. BB should get some google peeps to design for it!

Nice review. I like this segment of the site. Phones that I otherwise would never be interested in I can see here.

It seems like a cool enough phone, but I think my storm is better. The form factor is indeed a bit wonky. I do like the "Openness" of the platform, or rather the idea of the open platform. All in all if i did love my phone i woudld consider the G1

The software on the phone looks pretty good but they should definitely have worked on the design of the actual phone a little more, looks like a phone that would have came out about 5 years ago

Didn't like it..... Didn't Hate it! The trackball was nice to see, looked familular. I have been thinking of getting a touchscreen but didn't like touching the screen to text. For me a touch screen would be more style than function. HTC is getting there, but has a way to go. I will stick with my 8310 curve. Until the prices of the Bold or even the new Curve go down.

pretty neat phone that google thingie, still not a blackberry though. but I agree that they could have done a bit more with the physical appearance of the handset. it's not THAT exciting. the storm besides it is all shiny good looking and drew my attention away form the g1 at times...

guess I won't be leaving my trusty curve for a quite a while yet, even though I ever so much would love to have the bold or storm.

frog voice you said? naah, wasn't that bad was it?;)

the g1 isn't a pretty looking thing, but it sure has got some great features. I wouldn't mind getting one if they made it look better...

I had to file an online waiver at a college intramural game using my buddy's G1(officials wouldn't let me play otherwise). I was actually surprised to see how flawlessly the university web page loaded. It was as if I was viewing it on my PC. The screen wasn't as responsive as I thought it would be, but that could've been a matter of personal settings that my buddy had used. The keyboard felt a little awkward, but overall, I was surprised at how nice the phone operated and felt in hand. For those of you into programming, I think this phone could be an awesome choice.

Like a lot of people, I get a lot of services from Google, and I do like Android. I believe that Exchange support is just a matter of time.

However, the hardware is crude. It's certainly not on par with more mature platforms like the BlackBerry and can't hold a candle next to the Bold.

I've been waiting for this review, this phone looked pretty sweet, not as much as a Berry of course but still awesome. If berry's didn't exist this would be in the list of possible phones I would have, I would also consider this as a second phone/backup. I can't wait to see the final impressions.

I would hope for a physical keyboard to have raised keys. I have heard that keys on this are sometimes are hard to type on.

No doubt about it - this OS will dominate the smartphone market in a year or two. From that video (I'm going to go play with one soon), it's clear that the OS is very intuitive to use and frankly, the overall design is something Blackberry should pay attention to. I agree that the hardware leaves little to be desired, but that's the way of it - you can never seem to get EVERYTHING in one phone.

Wifi and 3G are included, which is a huge bonus, and a decent camera... I'm paying close attention to this operating system from now on!

The Android software is definitely nice, but the next phone that runs it really needs to be better looking. That stupid chin makes it not fit in any universal cases either...what was HTC thinking?

This has been a great round of Round robin. I have really injoy this thanks for all the great reviews

If Blackberry weren't around I would own this phone. Thankfully my Bold to me at least still is leaps and bounds better than this phone. A friend at work has the G1 and definitely better than the iPhone but nowhere near my Bold. But of course I'm partial to my BlackBerry's.

I do like the functionality of the OS. Good review, Kevin!

I think my concern would be typing on that keyboard. It seemed like the keys were a little more flat than I am used to. As a speed typer (even on my 8830), I would want to make sur ethe flatness of the keys wouldn't slow me down.

Good job Kevin. I can't wait to hear your final review. But like a lot of others, the BOld is the 'ONE'. Best hands down. Would love to win one or something..... ;o)

Honestly, the G1 is looking a heck of a lot sweeter than I thought. Wouldn't trade my storm for it... but a dang nice piece of equiptment to play with

I had some hands on with it its a fun device.. friend has it. I am not a fan of t-mobile however I can see android being a huge player in the future here.

The phone was really smooth and fun to work with. I didn't get a full on feel for how email was on it but everything else worked pretty sweet. Another competitor is always good.

Thorough. Especially liked that you directly compared it to the other smart phones out there.

For those who are up for something less informative but (arguably) more hilarious, you should check out this review of the G1 by some guy who has never seen one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEYWtouy8eE

My favorite parts are the Morning Glory sound effects and the decongester (I've got a wicked cold).

Cheers and keep up the good work.

Like others I find the phone just horribly unnatractive just to look at. Reminds me of one of those toy cell phones for kids or something. Too bad because I like the ideas behind it. Infact, I wouldn't complain at all if my Storm had a slideout keyboard on it!

Android looks very promising and for a first phone that is very impressive. Should be very interesting what they develop next with all the feed back they will have on it.

It looks like HTC and google tried to satisfy all users by having a touch screen with a real keyboard and a trackball. (surprised there was not a stylus hidden in there for Palm users:P) However this just makes the hardware look strange and lack direction. It also probably confuses the user as to when they should use the ball or keyboard or touch the screen for certain functions.

I think the Android Operating system is going to be huge. I think version 2.0 will be a nice contender in the smartphone arena. With the shift to having everything in the Web, who knows better the web than google?. I specially like the fact that is open source and anybody could develop apps without being rejected, or criticized (ahem Apple)

Its a good thing there is another operating system in the cell space. Competition is always a good thing. However this thing looks like it would make a good toy, cant see it replacing my beloved bold. Thanks for the vid.

Android is all about politics and little about a phone. The phone itself sucks and the OS borders on unusable. But hey, it's Google. Google is loved in the IT sector, and hey, it's not a MS OS. All politics, no substance.

The G1 is a very nice phone but typing is kind of weird cause the keyboard is off center. I just got my BOLD and love it.

looks like an 8703 lol and the software looks wonkie - blackberry totally has the perfect blend of hardware and software..menu structure- I can totally type while driving, calling, hell I can juggle and talk on my bb, with this one you gotta slide, flip, drag, tilt, eawwww, eawwww

I'm not a big g1 fan, I think Android is the only plus about the phone, the actual phone is not what I'd expect a first release model to excite people to look like.

It has has all the toys that will keep ya playing on the web but where does it stand when there's work to be done.

My BB curve works when I need it to and I plays when the work day is over. Can G1 do that???

That is actually a really cool phone. I love all it has to offer and its ease of use. I also love that it has a physical keyboard, since I am not so sure I am ready to switch to a touch screen just yet. I only hope their next model is more attractive. They would make a killing if they put more time into its look.

Of course, I am quite certain I am a BlackBerry girl forever and always. Something would have to truly blow my mind in order for me to switch.

Nice review, as always.

The G1 is a great idea and is an excellent start, but that is all, a start. It stands no chance against the established and more powerful blackberry platform. I do see good things from it in the future, but not quite yet.

My sister has the G1 and I kind of like it. I think htc could have done a little more with the design of the device especially after seing what they did with the touch diamond and touch pro.

I'm really excited about this as a phone OS. I really think once a lot of hardware manufacturers get onboard with Android, a lot of amazing things will be possible.

I wish I wasn't obsessed with BlackBerry, I'd have that G1 in a heartbeat. Oh well. It looks awesome, though.

my girl has a g1...not too impressed with it though. She hates my storm though, or should i say envies it!!!

How open minded all the editors are when testing a new device, and the reviews are all very good. I am actually liking this OS, although the phone leaves some things to be desired.

Honeslty in regards to the hardware, I think it's kinda ugly especially when you slide it open and you are "right side heavy" with an offset keyboard. Kinda has aspects of T-Mobile Sidekick.

Software wise though, I kinda like the OS. It looks super easy to move around, very customizable, and with a decent screen its a pretty good package in that respect.

If I had to rate the three phones you used as comparison for touchscreens I would want iPhone first (I'm a diehard BB fan, just not a big fan of the storm) the Storm second, then the G1.

Overall good review Kevin, but soon enough the Bold will be mine and then I will be truly satisfied.

i'm actually very interested in the g1. i want to see what andriod has to offer.

can't wait until the full review.

I'm not a big fan of HTC, but it looks like the trick is to have Google design the UI. For their first go it's pretty nice. I did notice even early in the review the screen seemed to be collecting fingerprints though.

Do you have to turn the phone off to wipe the fingerprints off the screen without accidentally starting apps or moving things around on your desktop?

There is one cool thing about the G1 that I wish I had on my BB. The ability to scan a barcode and it search the internet and compare prices in my area. That would be AWESOME for xmas time.

anyone else think the homescreen/desktop was hot?
but i have to say that the phone itself looks pretty cheesy.

The OS looks amazing, flexible and alot of options to play with. I really dislike the phone. How is typing on that thing? Does the right side (while holding it in landscape) bother u when u type?

I'm glad to hear that the G1 is getting good reviews from the crackberry populous. An Android device is probably the only kind of device that would cause me to leave the BlackBerry fraternity (good hardware of course being a necessity).

Can't wait for the final impressions rundown.

Very clean interface. I kinda like the no-frills hardware, too. Neat and clean all the way around.

The g1 has great potential but has some more development to be done on it. One of the biggiest areas that need work is the form factor.

Meh....Im not a fan of sliders either...I went through like 3 of them in about 2 months....nvr again!

I hate sliders, I need enterprise Sync. That is why I am going Bold!!

Nice first entry for the Android OS. Will do well in the same market as the iPhone3G for more consumer oriented users.

Nice looking phone but way to bulky for my taste. Don't like to feel like there's a brick in my pocket.

now if only it was available on verizon. do you think we'll ever be able to buy the phone of our choice and then pick our network? Verizon is the only choice for me because of coverage, but I really love some of the other carriers phones. very frustrating.

I LOVE HTC product's just a little less than BB because they usually run WM, but this baby is one bada** piece of equipment!

Great video, actually made me want to try it now compared to windows mobile devices. If we had that home screen experience on a berry, I'd be sold for life...

So, for a Bold, I would drive over my Thinkpad, Motorola q9H & BlackBerry curve using a Ford Super Duty!

Any takers?

i have played with the G1 and i like it but not as a main device. i f i were rich it would be a backup/personal device

Kevin,

Even though I am a Blackberry enthusiast, I must say, I have my eye on the G1. Since I am with T-mobile of course my next choice of phone would have been the Storm and being a gadget guy a lot of the new phones are incredible, including the G1. It's a tough decision though and since I am able to get a full upgrade I think the G1 will be at my front door in a couple of days. Don't get me wrong, I love my berry and my curve is definitely a winner but I think I will explore some more options since we have so many to choose from.

The G1 is alot better than the Treo, but the lack of official multi touch a la iPhone kinda sucks. Now about that Bold...HAHA

This phone looks very good (well the os at least), i think it would be my second choice after my blackberry, cant wait for your final comments.

Not a bad looking OS. Not to keen on the look of the phone but the software looks pretty sweet. I wouldn't trade my Storm for one mind you, but it looks pretty cool.

The G1 just looks so big and bulky compared to the Bold. It's so unattractive when it's next to the Bold.

i like seeing all the diff. people's (& reviewers') reactions to all dese phones. Bold is in the limelight for me so far, though. Thanks

Kevin,
I am sorry, I have sinned. While awaiting for my contract to end with T-Mobile on December 15th, I had been drooling over the Blackberry Storm(really for about 1 1/2 years) anxiously awaiting release to trade in my Pearl. This all seems fine and dandy as I get a 20% discount from Verizon through my workplace, the Storm had just been released, and my contract was nearing end. Then the many Storm reviews came out. BUGS!? SLUGGISH!? NO WAY! I cracked. I quit the habit. I guess you could say I got greedy. I didn't want to wait for some update(which is now released it seems). I extended my contract and purchased a G1 online. I have not even receieved this phone yet and I am regretting it all!! I will not quit reading this site. I'm sure the G1 is a great phone. I am just a Blackberry Man. I had to confess..

Hmm, it's a pretty nice phone and definitely featured packed but like everyone else said it's not a very good looking phone.

interested in this phone, as I am on T-mobile and I want 3g support, but I love my BB too much to give it up. Im seriously thinking of switching over to AT&T for the Bold. I just dont like AT&Ts plans, and thats the only thing really holding me back. If t-mobile had a 3g BB I wouldnt even consider it. And I dont feel like waiting 6 months for them to get the bold.

I really think the combination of a touchscreen, full qwerty, and the trackball provides all of the most efficient interfaces mechanisms. However, it sounds like the execution of having all of these is going to take some refinement. Having selected the Bold after having used the Storm and iPhone, I believe touchscreen to be the least essential. However, there are some instances where it would be great to have.

i love the idea of a true goolephone but i really think this one missed the mark. the phone is unattractive and android still needds work. ill keep my curve over this phone anyday

I understand from reading several reviews some of the G1 phones have a problem with valid OS commands. For example if you type the word "reboot" it will reboot. That is a huge OOPS. Still love the Bold. Keep us informed but I am still a Crackberry Addict.

Thank you for these informative reviews, even though "touch" looks appealing, I have eyes for the Bold.

Out of all the reviews, I'm definitely most excited for this one (and conversely, Androidcenral's review of the Bold) as I'm personally debating G1 vs. Bold. Both seem to live well in Google's cloud (a must for me), with an obvious nod to the G1 for Google-ness... but form-factor and ease-of-use for me so far leans toward the Bold (since I've been a Treo user for 5+ years now). I'm ESPECIALLY curious, though, to see how a Crackberry-user (i.e., a front-facing QWERTY person) feels about the G1's weird off-center, overly-flush keyboard. Is it tolerable, and could a smiley-face-keyboard user like myself adapt to it easily?

The G1 is an ugly phone with a good OS. I would buy it if it was on Sprint's network.

I would also own an iPhone if it was with Sprint.

Hell, i would have the Storm if it was on Sprint's network. I first started visiting this site because i was excited for the Storm but after all the bad reviews and the fact that Verizon want's to charge me $25 - $35 more per month just to get the same service i get with Sprint.

So i guess I'll just suffer with my Sprint Diamond until more Android phones become available, the iPhone is released from the over-priced AT&T or the Storm is released from the over-priced Verizon "network".

Awesome review Kevin. Much more comprehensive than Jennifer's can I crack your Bold's screen with my finger review. I am interested to see what other devices Google will get their hands on.

I looked at this phone at T-Mo when I bought my wife the BB pPearl flip. My "guy" at T-Mo let me play with it for a bit and I had to think twice before jumping over. After several sleepless nites I decided to stick with the curve I have now and hold out for a new BB modle to be named at a later date. When I feel I can afford it anyay. Please help me not have to wait.

I got bored within an hour with the phone. Maybe I am enjoying the E71 too much, or the Pearl Flip is just too good as a phone, or I am waiting to have a chance to buy a reasonably priced Bold...who knows...

The G1 is just so easy to pass on.

I was at my sprint store today and they said sprint won't get the BB BOLD So in this case I will need to win a BB BOLD the newest and greatest Smartphone on the market. In case something goes wrong and this requesr dosent go thru Please forward this to SANTA(RIM) or Miss SANTA(RIM) I'm Single

OK i was just watching this first impressions and it was a lot better than I had with the phone. I tried to get a good friend of mine to get a bb but he got this thing. I liked only like two thing with this phone but that was it. It has to be the ugliest smart phone on the market. if you don't wear really baggy pants than it a no go for putting it in your packet. I think it will get better but i am glad that i have my curve.

I love the combination of the touch screen and the full qwerty keypad - the best of both worlds, IMO.

i'm waiting for the G2 to make a decision on google's two cents in the phone realm

until then i'll stick with my BOLD =]

It seems like a cool phone and very user friendly, but could it be any uglier. It's like a Moped. We all want to ride one, but we don't want our friends to see us on it.

I've switched from BB Curve to G1. IMO, BB is still the gold standard in the email department without a doubt, but this is probably the only area that BB shines in comparo to the G1.

POP/IMAP on G1 was spotty at best during the first month with constant error connection, but this issue has been resolved since. Exchange will soon follow as more & more apps are being added to the Market daily.

While I miss the quick instant email from my old trusted BB Curve, everything else about the G1 far exceeded the Curve. I'm an old school guy that still prefer the full QWERTY tactile keyboard, so Storm is out of the picture for me. My wife has the iphone and she absolutely hated it since it is nearly impossible to input txt with her long finger nails. She is waiting for the white G1 to be made available so that she can make the switch.

All & all even though this is Google's foray into the smartphone market, I think they have done an excellent job thus far. The open G1 OS platform is fantastic, there are no less than 2 new apps introduced to the Market everyday.

The default G1 web browsing is on par with the wife's iphone. OperaMini has just been released to G1, and flash will soon to follow. If you can look pass the G1's "homey" skin (and yes, to this day I think it is still as ugly as sin ;-), but the moment you hold it in your hand, it's money and almost melt in your hand, something that I never felt with my old Curve.

If email is a priority for you, then I suggest to stick with BB. Otherwise, the G1 is worth a look. I can't wait for the G2 & beyond to be released.

My two pieces of the copper.

Nice preview Kevin! You do a really good job on these videos. The G1 is the only non-Blackberry that interests me right now, so I was curious to see your take on it.

Nice preview Kevin! You do a really good job on these videos. The G1 is the only non-Blackberry that interests me right now, so I was curious to see your take on it.

Yet another great review. For me however I can by see my self using a g1 anytime soon. Maybe in a year or two when the tech has been developed more.

The G1 with Androit has two paths for the future, a more robust OS or a chaos when all the developers start going each way.

the OS looks better than windows mobile or other blackberry competitors in my opinion.. the shape/look of the phone is very unattractive though. bold all the way.

I'm glad someone actually likes the g1 instead of just saying "ohhh yeah it sucks ahhh" like a grumpy old man whos car just broke down.

It just seems a bit unneeded to have a touch screen and full QWERTY to me when you could integrate the QWERTY into the touch screen interface like the Storm has done. Its seems to work well enough on that device. Plus, the slider motion this makes seems wonky and unstable. I've used a slider cell phone before, but it ran on tracks and never had issues with instability like this seems to have. Maybe its just me.

I do like the homescreen set-up and functions though, as it does seem really nice and fluid to use.

Thanks for another great review.

I'm surprised that there is no option for a software keyboard, especially when you have to select an input field on the touchscreen.

when I first saw the G1 in pictures, I thought it looked way too bulky for anyone to even consider. I saw it in person a couple of days ago, and I have to say that I was wrong. it's not as nicely constructed as say, a Blackberry, or the iPhone, but it's still a great phone with a nice feature set.

but I'd never let go of my curve, at least not for a G1. only for a bold would I abandon my curve.

It is not a good looking device. At least not on the video. Seemed to function pretty good but I'm not digging the keyboard layout or the looks of the device overall.

good phone, im actually looking into the dev phone so i can really test the apps ive been making

Of sll the phones in the round Robin this was the review i was most hoping to read from you Kev, nice work.