Review: HTC T-Mobile G1 smartphone

The HTC T-Mobile G1 smartphone is not an iPhone killer but is a very nice phone for the avid Google application user that wants their Gmail and calendar synced on a smartphone.

The T-Mobile G1 smartphone is not an iPhone killer but is a very nice phone for the avid Google application user that wants their Gmail and calendar synced on a smartphone. The robust Web browser and maps application round out the feature set that make this phone an enticing prototype for the Android platform.


  • Qualcomm® MSM7201ATM, 528 MHz processor
  • AndroidTM OS (version 1.5 of reviewed unit)
  • 256MB ROM, 192MB RAM
  • microSDTM memory card (SD 2.0 compatible)
  • WCDMA, Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • Weighs 5.60 ounces with battery
  • Dimensions (LxWxT): 4.60 x 2.16 x 0.62 inches
  • 3.2-inch TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with 320 x 480 (HVGA) resolution
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery (1150 mAh capacity)
  • Talk time: 350 minutes for WCDMA, 406 minutes for GSM
  • Standby time: 402 hours for WCDMA, 319 hours for GSM
  • Trackball with Enter button
  • Slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard
  • 3.2 megapixel color camera with auto focus
  • GPS navigation capability with Google MapsTM
  • Bluetooth® 2.0 with Enhanced Data Rate
  • Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11b/g
  • HTC ExtUSBTM (11-pin mini-USB 2.0 and audio jack in one)
  • Built-in microphone and speaker
  • Price: $149 with 2 year contract, $399 without
  • More information: HTC, T-Mobile
  • For a closer look, check out the TechRepublic Spotlight Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

The G1 offered by T-Mobile is geared towards the avid Gmail/Google calendar user and text messengers. The G1 is not necessarily for use in the enterprise, however, small businesses could use the G1 with professional messaging from Google to provide a seamless mail/calendaring smart phone. Most of the G1 features are aimed at the younger, social-network-minded consumer.

What problem does it solve?

The G1 brings the power of many of the most popular Google applications to a smartphone (Gmail, Calendar, GTalk, Maps, YouTube, etc.). It automatically syncs with your Gmail and Google Calendar. The GPS with Google maps can act as a personal navigator with the familiar street view and directions features. In addition to the Google applications on the phone, it provides a very robust browser and the ability to add up to five other email accounts.

Standout features

  • Google Integration: The Google integration with the G1 allows you to hit the ground running. The first time you power on the phone, it will ask you for your Google login credentials, syncing Gmail and Calendar right away. The mobile version of Gmail has most if not all of the features available on the desktop version. The YouTube application allows you to watch videos available from the different feeds (most popular, most viewed, etc.). Maps and Google Talk are installed and work as expected.
  • Touch Screen: The touch screen is very bright and clear. The G1 doesn't use a stylus and responds to touches just like the iPhone. Navigation is fairly intuitive with most applications on the G1. The only problems encountered were attempting to click small links on the browser, but that is solved by using the track ball to navigate.
  • Keyboard: The slide out keyboard is rather large and easy to use. The spacing prevents most "fat finger" typing errors. Exposing the keyboard puts the screen in landscape mode (note: the G1 doesn't switch to portrait vs. landscape like the iPhone by simply tilting). The recent Android 1.5 update introduced an on screen keyboard that automatically displays when text input is required and the keyboard is not exposed. The onscreen keyboard is tight, but very useful for one handed operation in a pinch (which is difficult if not impossible with the slide out keyboard).
  • Browser: The browser on the G1 is outstanding. It has very little trouble rendering pages not designed for mobile devices. The zoom in/out feature makes touch navigation easier or the track ball can be used to highlight and click through small links.
  • Market: Market is an application on the G1 where you go to download applications written by the development community (similar to the iPhone app store). There are numerous apps available with an overwhelming majority being free to download. The apps are categorized as Applications or Games at the top level with several sub categories. The apps are searchable and can be organized by popularity or date.
  • Android: The G1 runs on the Android OS. Android has proven to be a stable OS and rarely crashes or locks up the phone.

What's wrong?

  • Form Factor: The G1 is a bit large and a tad bulkier than other smartphones. The phone will fit in your pocket but is definitely noticeable. The design is not as sleek and sexy as the iPhone. The screen slides out to expose the keyboard and snaps into place easily but doesn't have a sturdy feel to it.
  • Battery Life: The battery life on the G1 is somewhat poor. Under moderate usage (Gmail, browser and normal talk time), the battery lasted for about 12-18 hours. The longest time between charges was two days with light usage. Future Android updates promise to improve battery life.
  • Application Management: The Android OS does an excellent job of managing multiple tasks running on the G1, but there doesn't seem to be any option to stop applications (as with Windows Mobile). Once you start an application, it remains running. After prolonged usage of the phone with multiple apps running, there is a noticeable slowness in response time.
  • One handed operation: If you primarily want to operate the phone with one hand (like a Blackberry Pearl/Flip), this proves to be difficult with the tight on screen keyboard.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

The HTC T-Mobile G1 smartphone is not slated to be a business phone. It's targeted for the younger, social-minded consumer. It could have a niche with small businesses using professional Google services for mail and calendaring. There may be a market for Android developers to create applications that sync with Microsoft Exchange or other enterprise business software to make this useful as a business class phone.

User rating

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