T-Mobile G1 Phone Review

A white, rounded square logo with an abstract S-shaped design on a gradient blue and purple background.

This is a bit off topic for a web design firm, but I just got the G1 phone and wanted to review it for others. ”  This is my review of the G1. I am a five-year T-Mobile customer and I returned the phone on the second day of use. I am not angry, I am still a T-Mobile customer, I promise I wont type in ALL CAPS, and I would even recommend the phone for most people. I will give my fair thoughts on the phone and the overall experience. For most this is an excellent phone and for some the email application alone will cause issues enough to return the phone.

The Good

Design

The phone is solid. It’s built nicely and compact.The touch screen is really amazing and has nice animations, depth with shadow effects, nice clear menus, good slide effects, and it is real easy to use.

Connection

My first connection was hindered because the store I was buying from in Fort Lauderdale must have been built to withstand a nuclear blast. We barely had a connection, but as soon as I stepped out of the store, 3G entered my life and I was alive with Google. 3G is really fast on T-Mobile; however, depending on where you are at in the zones, you will find yourself going back to the Edge network at times.

Use

The phone is easy to use. Even my mother could probably use this phone. The desktop is easy to find, core apps can be placed on the desktop, and of course you have access to everything with one click. The applications load blazingly fast, if only all PC and Mac computer programs loaded this quickly.

Call Quality

While this is almost always overlooked, the real purpose of the phone is calling. The phone worked great in its primary capacity and sounded clear. As Jack Nicholson asked in A Few Good Men in “Are we clear?””  “Crystal.””  Yes, this phone is crystal clear.

Texting & IM

I was impressed with the ability to text quickly. ”  IM was nice in that it had preloaded MSN (which I use a lot), Yahoo and AOL. Texting took about a second to arrive on my co-workers desktop. In the future, I would imagine everyone will be logged into one of these services and we can all stop texting and avoid additional charges by the carriers. Nice!

Keyboard

What can I say, I love keyboards. I do think the keyboard is actually a bit too large and the keys could be a bit closer together. Go figure. I also feel that the period key should be larger and perhaps take the place of the comma. It’s used more.

Maps & GPS

Although at times slow, the maping and GPS worked as promised. Nifty!

The Bad

Hinge Design

I feel that the hinge design is somewhat of an inherent flaw and will eventually break. I have nothing to back this up scientifically, although there are a few photos I have seen where wires have come loose and other users have reported creaking sounds. I just feel that after years of repeated closing and opening, any hinge or slide design will not take the abuse that I dole out to my phones. My Treo 600 is still working fine, partly because it’s a stick design, but I doubt that in five years the G1 hinge will be still functioning. Of course, most users of the G1 will have moved onto the G2, 3, 4 and 5 by that date, so it’s probably a moot point.

Battery

For me I got about 8 hours of use out of the phone in the first day on a full charge (4 hours awake and 4 hours standby). Yes, I disabled Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. I also went into the settings, disabled 3G, lowered the screen brightness to its lowest setting, and told Google apps to stop syncing!”  Still 8 hours seems short, especially since I am used to charging about two to three times a week for my current phone. I am sure patches will rectify this; similar to how the iPhone was patched to increase battery life.

Menu

Maybe it’s the Treo blood in me, but I feel the desire to be able to click on the battery and see the exact amount I have remaining. ”  I would also prefer a button at the top to launch the menu. The slider effect for notices is real cool, but I want to be able to easily grab the menu too at the top, rather than click on the menu button at the bottom.

Wireless Settings

I also want to be able to turn on/off WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G and GPS with two clicks, such as Wireless and then the appropriate button. As it stands now, you have to click Menu, Settings, Wireless, Manual Settings and then the appropriate button.

The Ugly

Email
If you are not using Gmail, don’t bother using the Email application. The default Email application might be the worst I have seen to date. I have even used old 1996 web based email programs, and even older bulletin board email systesm, that were easier to use.

Most importantly, there are lots of connection issues. On the G1, the Email application did not work and connect to our email server consistently (sometimes as low as a 5% connection rate). But even once connected, the entire email system has serious design flaws.

I feel the Email application was an afterthought. Obviously, GMail is the core application and the thought is to push users into the Google world. But at least Google could have put together a standard email application that is similar to any webmail program in terms of functions.

On the G1, you could not create new folders, you could not purge the trash (it comes back each time after closing the phone), you could not even delete a message and have it deleted on your email server (a common function with IMAP or even POP3). The list view of emails seems cumbersome and you cannot quickly delete messages without holding down buttons. You could view images, but there is no viewing of any Word, Excel, or even PDF files.

Any Smartphone that launches today should include a standard email application that works. This is not new technology and G1 users should not have to wait for developers to do the job of Google. Seriously, this is not new technology and should have been included before the launch.

Viewing of Applications

As mentioned above, you cannot view any PDF file, Word or Excel file. Since this has been a standard on Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and iPhone we would expect it on this phone.

Viewing of Flash

Seriously, why is it so hard to get mobile devices to view Flash?”  Adobe, you really need to embrace the mobile web and help out Apple, Google, RIM and other companies.

The Return

The return was quick and easy. My contract was voided and I was put back into my old plan. Kudos to T-Mobile for making that an easy process.

Final Thoughts

This is a great first phone for Google and Android. I will definitely want to check out the G2 phone. The Android system shows promise, so long as Google can sign up developers to their cause. Suprising that with Google’s billions that they could not devote more resources to the applications.

However, until email is fixed, I woulT-Mobile G1 Phone Reviewd consider this not a true Smartphone, but rather a mobile web phone. It’s great at the web, its great at being a phone, but not-so-great at the email part. I would not recommend this for anyone who needs email on a daily basis that is not tied to Gmail. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a great phone, great touch screen, maps, GPS, the web, IM and the promise that applications will come to fix the email and other shortcomings.

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