T-Mobile G1, also known as the HTC Dream or the Google Phone (GPhone) is the first mobile to be launched in the market that will use the Android platform. Featuring full touch-screen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard, the G1 offers complete mobile web experience by incorporating popular Google products such as Gmail, YouTube, & Google Maps.
Apple has unfortunately set up a trend of releasing advanced products with missing basic features. So that means G1 also has no video recording, no Bluetooth transfers, no A2DP support and no modem tethering. Really makes you think whether HTC has hired iPhone’s technical team.
The G1 is tightly integrated with your Google account which was very much expected. What this means is you compulsorily need to have a Google account to get started. However you can only use one Google account with the phone. So if you are using a regular Google account for your personal work and a Google Apps account for your business work, then you cannot use both!
The biggest limitation about the G1 is that there is no desktop syncing app. You can only sync your contacts and calendar with Google’s online services. In other words, you cannot sync them with Microsoft Outlook on your desktop. If there is one thing we hate, it is being dictated about what to use and what not to use. Apple is historically notorious in imposing such restrictions but such diktats coming from Google which trumpets that all apps are created equal is surprising. If you are going to make an open platform it should be open and equal to everybody.
Thankfully, the G1 supports most POP3 and IMAP e-mail services besides Gmail, and also supports Instant Messaging through AOL, Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger besides its own Google Talk client.
Coming back to the topic of missing features, besides the lack of video recording, there is no video playback either except through YouTube. There is no Exchange support too. Google insists that developers will change all this by creating apps to cover all the missing functionality. But to leave basic functions to developers isn’t what the developer platform is supposed to be.
Comparison with Apple iPhone
Whether you like it or not, comparison of the Android based T-Mobile HTC G1 with Apple’s iPhone 3G is inevitable.
There is one basic difference between the two platforms: Any manufacturer can make a phone on the Android platform, whereas only Apple will make the iPhone. So an Android device’s strengths and weaknesses are as much in the manufacturer’s hands as they are with Android itself. There is a slight overlap though as many manufacturers like HTC are part of the Open Handset Alliance which supports Google in making its Android platform.
Apart from the manufacturer and the operating system, there are two other constituents of these mobile ecosystems. One is the carrier who can spoil the party with its pricing and data plans for the devices offered in various markets under an exclusive license; but this limitation is shared by both.
The final & one of the most critical constituents are the developers. Unlike Apple’s walled garden for developers writing iPhone Apps, Android will be an open source uncontrolled environment.
Making its debut a good 15 months after the iPhone, the G1 manages to take a step backwards. It can’t match Apple’s multi-touch interface. It doesn’t have a headphone jack. And according to initial reviews it feels like a cheap piece of plastic. Well, Google G1 can do cut and paste and it can send a MMS. But that’s not something for Android to be proud of, its something for the iPhone to be ashamed of.
The only significant advantage over the iPhone is its sliding QWERTY keypad. And the camera is slightly better at 3 MP as against the iPhone’s 2 MP. But considering that other manufacturers are now launching handsets with 5 MP and 8 MP cameras, it is nothing great either.
Android will face tough competition from Nokia controlled Symbian and Windows Mobile ecosystems. However, Techcrunch reports that Nokia and Motorola are already sniffing around Android, while Sony Ericsson has already expressed its interest in Android for its future Xperia series smartphones.