Contact Us   Site Map
Airline Mismanagement

Not quite as excitedly waited for as Apple's iPhone, but still a major event in the cell phone world, is the first ever phone using Google's new Android cell phone operating system.

The first phone to use the Google Android OS is the HTC Dream phone, being sold by T-Mobile as the G1.

 
 
Travel Planning and Assistance
Road Warrior resources
Noise Reducing Headphones
International Cell Phone Service
GSM cell phone unlocking FAQs
Unlock Your GSM Cell Phone
Portable MP3 Players
GPS series of articles
Should you choose an iPhone or Android series
Apple iPhone review series
iPhone 3G/3GS Battery replacement
Third Rail iPhone 4/4S External Battery
Apple iPad review series
iPad/Tablet Buying Guide
Google Nexus 7 review
Netflix Streaming Video
Sharing Internet Access series
Microsoft OneNote review
T-mobile/Google G1 phone review series
Blackberry review and user tips
Palm Tungsten T3
Motorola V3 Razr cell phone review
Motorola V600 cell phone review
Nokia 3650 cell phone review
SIM Saver GSM Phone Backup and Copy Device
Clipper Gear Micro Light
Amazon's new (Sep '11) Kindles and Fire review
Review of the Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle eBook reader review
Amazon Kindle 2 preview
Sony PRS-500 eBook reader review
Audible Digital Talking Books review
Home Security Video Monitoring
Quik Pod review
Joby Gorillapod review
Satellite Radio Service
Satellite Phone Service
All About Speech Recognition Software
2005 Best Travel Technology Awards
How to connect to the Internet when away from home/office
Bluetooth wireless networking
How to Choose a Bluetooth Headset
Logitech Squeezebox Duet
Packet 8 VoIP phone service
Sugarsynch software review
iTwin remote access device
Barracuda Spam Firewall review
Cell Phone Emergency Power Recharger series
First Class Sleeper
Roboform Password Manager review
Securikey USB Computer Protection Key review
Steripen UV Water Purifiers
ScanGaugeII OBDII review
SafeDriver review
Expandable Bags for Traveling Convenience
USB Flash Drive
Vonage VoIP phone service
Laptop Screen Privacy Filter
AViiQ Laptop Stands
Aviator Laptop Computer Stand
No Luggage Worries
Pack-a-Cone roadside safety flashing cone
Emergency Self charging Radio
Evac-U8 Emergency Escape Smoke Hood
MyTag Luggage Tags
Beware of Checked Baggage Xray Machines
SearchAlert TSA approved lock
Boostaroo Portable Amplifier and splitter
Dry Pak protective pouch
Boom Noise Canceling Headset
Ety-Com Noise Canceling Headset
Nectar Blueclip BT headset holders
Skullcandy Link Headset Mixer
Lingo Pacifica 10 language talking translator
Nexcell NiMH rechargeable battery kit
Jet Lag Causes and Cures
SuddenStop License Frame
CoolIT USB Beverage cooler
Travel ID and Document Pouches
Protect Yourself Against Document Loss
Personal Radio Service
PicoPad Wallet Notes
Times Electronic Crossword Puzzles
Slim Cam 300 micro digital camera review
Stopping Spam
BottleWise Bottle Carrier review
The End of the Internet as We Know it?
How to Book and Buy Travel
Scary, Silly and Stupid Security Stories
Airline Reviews
Airline (Mis)!Management
Miscellaneous Features
Reference Materials
About the Travel Insider
 
Search
Looking for something else? Search over two million words of free information on our site.
Custom Search
 
Free Newsletter

In addition to our feature articles, we offer you a free weekly newsletter with a mix of news and opinions on travel related topics.

 

 View Sample
Privacy Policy

 
Help this Site
Thank you for your interest in helping this site to continue to develop. Some of the information we give you here can save you thousands of dollars the next time you're arranging travel, or will substantially help the quality of your travel experiences in other, non-cash ways. Click for more information
 
Reader's Replies

If you'd like to add your own commentary, send me a note.

 

 

T-Mobile Google G1 Phone review Part One

Neither iPhone nor Blackberry need to - yet - feel threatened by this new phone and operating system
 

T-mobile's G1 phone is a slider type phone.  With the slider closed, it is a 'soap bar' type phone with basic buttons and touch screen; with the slider open to reveal the keyboard, the screen changes orientation to 'landscape' mode rather than 'portrait' mode and the phone can be used for email, web browsing, and other keyboard intensive tasks.

The phone is available in either a black (shown here) or bronze finish.

Part one of a three part series on the Google/T-mobile G1 - please also visit

1.  About the G1 in General
2.  Using the G1
3.  Sample images, the future, and should you buy one

 

 

T-mobile's G1 phone, released on 22 October 2008, is a rebadged HTC Dream phone, and is the first phone to run on Google's Android cell phone operating system.

As such, excitement and expectations were high.  But, alas, the phone and its functionality, at least as initially released, are lacking in many essential features that roadwarriors would need, while for less advanced experts, offers nothing special over and above any generic phone.

We don't recommend the phone, based on its current version of OS and capabilities, for power users, and see no reason why an ordinary user would choose to spend the extra money and accept the weaknesses of this phone (such as very short battery life).

The supremacy of variously the Blackberry and the iPhone is completely unchallenged by this disappointing phone.

 

The T-mobile G1 - What you Get

The phone comes in a cardboard box, and of course, the most prominent inclusion is the phone itself.

The phone has a 1GB micro SD card already installed - that is a nice touch, but when you consider that the iPhones offer either 8GB or 16GB of fixed storage, a 1GB removable storage option is unexciting.  While, in theory, you could replace the 1GB card with, eg, a 4GB card, and then shuffle four of them to replicate the 16GB of capacity on the iPhone, no-one ever wants to do that, and the micro SD cards are so small they'd almost certainly be quickly lost.

We're now advised the phone will work with 16GB micro SD cards, and the thought of interchangeable 16GB cards is actually more positive.  You could store several movies to watch on a card - except that, ooops, the phone can't play video!  And we doubt there'd be sufficient battery life to play much video, even if it could.

It is good that the phone has removable storage, but it should also have a more generous amount of fixed internal storage as well.  The removable storage should be a supplement and an additional way of transferring data rather than the primary storage medium.

The phone also has a removable 1150 mAh Li-Ion battery which strangely isn't pre-installed in the phone.  It is wonderful that the battery is removable (unlike the iPhone), and with the dismally short battery life that the G1 suffers from, some people might need to think about traveling with a spare battery, just like many of us used to do, many years ago, when all phones had short battery lives insufficient to allow for a full day of use.

Instead of a single earbud headset/microphone as many phones come with, the G1 comes with a stereo earbud headset/microphone.  But I actually didn't like that - with the pathetic battery life and minimal storage capacity for music, there's no way I'd ever use my G1 for playing music, and having to put on a stereo headset for a phone call seems like overkill, making for a bulkier thing to keep in your pocket and a much more obtrusive thing to wear.

A bad design feature is that both the headset and the charger share the same USB type connector on the phone.  You can't be both charging the phone and using its headset at the same time.  Plus, you can't conveniently go to any store and buy a generic headset to replace the stupid stereo headset provided with the phone, you have to get one with a special USB type plug.

Also provided is a mains charger and a USB cable.

A carry case is provided as well - a sort of a padded glove that you'd slip the phone inside.  But this too is poorly thought out.  You can put the phone in its case, but there's no belt clip for then carrying it on your belt.

Strangely, T-mobile offer a $4 lanyard/carry strap for the phone so you can carry it around your neck, but - ooops - there's nowhere on the phone to attach the lanyard!

A bunch of paperwork also comes with the phone.  There's a Terms and Conditions brochure about T-Mobile's Hotspot service, a Terms, Conditions and Warranty brochure for the phone, a Getting Started manual and a credit card sized fanfold sheet of 'Tips and Tricks' to help you with the phone.

A separate and more detailed 141 page user manual can be downloaded from T-mobile's website.

The phone comes with a one year warranty.

Strangely, while the box said that the phone comes with a SIM, the man in the store removed the SIM from the box and said 'you don't get that unless you are prepared to pay $20 more'.  Having occasionally lost or broken SIMs in the past, I had hoped that the included SIM would indeed have been truly included, as implied/promised by the printing on the box, but apparently one can't believe everything one reads.

So, while the phone comes with a good set of included items, all of them have weaknesses or limitations.  As does the phone itself.

The G1 capabilities and specifications

The G1 is similar in size, but a bit thicker, than an iPhone or a full size Blackberry (eg 8800), but this is not really a major consideration.  it measures 4.6" x 2.2" x 0.7" and weighs 5.6 ounces.

The phone has full quad band support for GSM phone service, so can work anywhere in the world.

It also supports high speed ('3G') data service on the HSDPA type networks, with dual band 1700/2100 MHz capabilities.  The 1700 MHz frequency band is peculiar to T-Mobile, while the 2100 MHz band is supported in much of the rest of the world.  AT&T uses 1900 MHz in the US, as do some countries in South America, so the phone's international roaming abilities on 3G networks is not as perfect as its roaming ability on the regular GSM voice and data network.

T-mobile's 3G network is reportedly somewhat slower than AT&T's, and also is more limited geographically, not being available in as much of the US.

The phone also supports earlier wireless data networks - the slow GPRS and the medium speed EDGE type networks (both of these operate on the four GSM frequencies.  In addition, the G1 also can connect to Wi-Fi networks (both 802.11 b and g).

The phone is 'locked' to only work with a T-mobile SIM and service, but T-mobile will likely remove this restriction for you after you've had the phone for 90 days and kept your account in good standing.

The G1 has built in Bluetooth, with the latest version 2.0 functionality, but this is limited to only handsfree and headset support, which is a massive crippling of the Bluetooth capabilities that could have been otherwise included.

The phone also lacks any capabilities to be used as a data modem with a laptop or other device (sometimes referred to as 'tethering').  This is a shame, because clearly being able to access the internet through the high speed 3G connection would be a valuable benefit to people, but unsurprisingly, T-mobile is seeking to limit the amount of data traffic its network will experience.

The 3.2" screen is larger than a Blackberry's screen, but slightly smaller than an iPhone screen.  It has 480x320 pixels of resolution which makes for sharp clear images, and can display 16 bit (ie 65,000) color.

It has a 3 Megapixel camera (2048 x 1536 pixel resolution) camera, and similar to all other phone cameras, takes poor rather than good quality pictures, and is best in a well lit area.

The screen is a touch screen, but it only uses one finger touch, not two finger touch like the iPhone.

The phone has a built in GPS receiver which is moderately sensitive.  It also has a digital compass and a motion sensor/accelerometer.

Using the Phone in General

With a great deal of excitement, I put the battery and SIM into the phone and turned it on.  The Getting Started guide told me that a setup wizard would appear to help me configure the phone, but this didn't appear.

After some investigation, it turned out that my phone had been already used - back on 26 September (the phone only went on sale on 22 October, and I bought one that very same morning).  Apparently someone at HTC's factory in Taiwan had been playing with my phone before boxing it up and shipping it off.  The phone was registered to someone else, and configured to their preferences, and it could only be reset to my details by doing a hard reset to erase all data from the phone.

This is actually more of a problem than it sounds.  If you want to change the Gmail account that the phone is associated with, the only way to do this is to completely reset the phone and lose all of your customization, all of your data, and any extra software you've downloaded onto the phone.  While most of us won't be regularly changing our associated Gmail account, if we should ever wish to, it is surprising and disappointing that the only way to do this involves completely losing everything on our phone as part of the process.

Which brings us to an annoying part of the phone.  Just like the iPhone is 'hardwired' into various other Apple services, so too is the G1 hardwired into a dependency on Google.  It is important to understand that this phone doesn't just have a freestanding open operating system that was designed and coordinated by Google, but it is also joined at the hip to Google, whether you want it to be or not - a 'feature' that flies in the face of the claimed 'open operating system' concept that supposedly underlies the Google Android OS.

The setup wizard insists you either link the phone to an existing Gmail account or, if you don't have one, you create one.  You can't use the phone for anything - not even the simplest phone call - until you've linked it to a Gmail account.

I noticed one silly thing.  I attempted to create a Gmail account with the identity "dmr.g1".  Now I'd count that as six characters.  But Gmail ignores the period and considers it only five, and for reasons best known to itself, demands a six or longer character identity.  One can only guess why a period isn't considered a character.

Locking the Phone

Any sort of phone that stores a lot of personal information should always be kept in a locked state.  That way, if you lose the phone, you're not exposing information such as credit cards and who knows what else to a stranger - quite possibly a stranger who stole your phone for the very reason of wishing to get that information and steal your identity.

The G1 can be locked.  But rather than keying in a code word or code number, it is locked with, of all things, a pattern.  You have to draw a pattern on the screen to unlock it.

This is a 'clever' idea that shows off the touch screen, but it is a very stupid idea in real life.  Instead of being able to use a word or number that we're familiar with, we now have one more thing to remember - a pattern.  I don't know about you, but I am used to remembering passwords and code numbers, but remembering a pattern?  That's a new concept, and not one I feel comfortable with, and how do you easily write down a pattern to help you remember it if you forget?

This is a classic example of the phone designers opting for showy 'cleverness' rather than boring functionality.

Keyboard

The G1 does have a great keyboard.  Both the Blackberry and the iPhone have a three row keyboard; the G1 has a full four row keyboard, the same as your computer.  This makes it easier to type numbers and other special characters.  It is also a larger keyboard than either of the other two devices, but the keys themselves aren't as nice to type on as the Blackberry, being less positive in operation and slightly harder to push.

On balance, the extra row of keys on the positive side and the less pleasant key pressing on the negative side makes the keyboard a bit of a wash with the Blackberry, but vastly better than the awful virtual keyboard on the iPhone.

However, there's one aspect of the keyboard that is a nuisance.  Whereas it is always present, below the screen, on a Blackberry, you have to slide open the unit to reveal the keyboard on the G1.  This is an inconvenience that you quickly grow to resent (and might even be part of the reason why you unlock the phone with a pattern drawn on its touch screen rather than by entering a code on its keypad).

There is also a clickable trackball on the phone, which is a useful way of moving through webpages to select links, although you can also select links by touching them on the touch screen.  It is nice to have both ways of doing things.

Part one of a three part series on the Google/T-mobile G1 - please also visit

1.  About the G1 in General
2.  Using the G1
3.  Sample images, the future, and should you buy one

 

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 31 Oct 2008, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
Apple iPhone and iPhone 3G review series
G1 phone review (the new HTC/T-mobile/Google phone)
Should you choose an Android or iPhone
Motorola V3 Razr review
Motorola V600 review
Sample pictures from a Motorola V600
Blackberry and other personal email device reviews, analysis, and helpful hints
Nokia 3650 review
Permanent international GSM SIM
Extra software for Symbian cellphones
Sample Pictures from a Nokia 3650
Sierra Wireless Aircard 750 review
SIM Saver GSM phone backup reader/copier
Unlock your Nokia Cellphone
iSkin Cerulean RX review
Clipper Emergency Cellphone Recharger
Xingtone Ringtone Maker
Satellite Phone Service
Boom Headset Review
How to get International Cell Phone Service
Dry Pak protective pouch
Skullcandy headset mixer review
About Bluetooth
How to Choose a Bluetooth Headset


CallWave Free Trial - Click Here!


Your Feedback

How Would You Rate this Article

Poor
Average
Good

Was the Article Length and Coverage

Too short/simplistic
About right 
Too long/complex

Would You Like More Articles on this Subject

No
Maybe
Yes

Back to Top