Friday, October 24, 2008

gPhone tire kicking

I finally saw my first HTC G1 today. I stopped by the T-Mobile strip mall store and spent 10 minutes with one (although it had the anti-theft hook attached).

The phone design was small and slick. Unlike many phones, the SD card was readily available and removable. As with other HTC phones, the PC and power cable is a standard USB mini 4-pin connector. There was a dedicated button for bringing up a Google search window.

However, with its sideways keyboard and half-VGA screen, it seemed more like an upgrade to T-Mobile Sidekick than an iPhone killer. I did a little bit of web browsing, including to my SDTelecom blog. The screen was sharp and almost wide enough for the text — certainly wider than my Nokia E65 (my only other web browsing phone). The crucial test would be website compatibility — presumably similar to the iPhone WebKit browser but I didn’t have a large sample.

The Android Market was a major disappointment due to minimal selection. Perhaps it’s the lack of incentives: free applications, versus the paid apps available at third party gPhone stores such as Handango (let alone the stores of Apple or various carriers).

Overall, the form factor was interesting, but I couldn’t really see anything distinctive about the software. The iPhone has a wow! while the BlackBerry and Symbian S60 are mature, complete platforms. Right now, the G1 has a long way to go.

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