Google Phone (G1) Review
When the iPhone came out, I tried very hard to resist reading too much about it. I knew the hype would get to me, and I'd find myself "needing" one. It was easy to resist at the time, though, since it came with a hefty price tag. But even when the 3G iPhone came out at $200, I wasn't that thrilled. Apple was starting to sound a lot like a company called Microsoft, with buggy software and bundles. Also, there were rumors circulating about a Google phone, using a dazzling new open source operating system. I had to wait it out to see. The result? I'm a happy camper. The G1 is an excellent (and cheaper) alternative to the iPhone.
I read as many reviews as I could get my hands on before heading out on release day to sign up. Most reviewers agree that the OS is great, but it's not as fancy or impressive as the iPhone's interface. Gigaom compared it as "G-1 is a Honda to iPhone’s BMW." Well, I drive a Civic, so it works for me.
It's also a little heavier and thicker, but as engadget points out, it's no dealbreaker. Plus I like my gadgets to feel sturdy and hardy. The iPhone is a little too delicate for my taste.
Additionally, my experience with the G1 isn't colored by any iPhone usage. Even though I've seen it up close and personal, I've never handled one. Some reviewers got frustrated when trying to use iPhone shortcuts out of habit and finding the G1 doesn't work the same way.
For me, I thought everything was fairly intuitive. There aren't a lot of options -- it's clear what you can do and can't do. There isn't a way for you to sync with the computer. Instead, it syncs automatically with Google's applications -- Gmail, Calender, Contacts, etc. Since I use these apps, it didn't cause additional hassle, but I can see how non-Gmail users would find this annoying.
Overall, I'm very happy with the functionality and usability. I love the Qwerty keyboard. That's really what I cinched the deal for me. I didn't like the touch screen keyboard on the iPhone. The trackball is also extremely useful, and the touch screen is responsive. I've already downloaded a few applications from the Marketplace and am kind of addicted to the Memory game which is just like this old game called Simon.
The low memory will bother some people, and may indeed be a dealbreaker. But I didn't want a phone that would replace my iPod -- I actually don't mind keeping the iPod around for music, video, and photos. The data plan is also cheaper. $25/mo compared to AT&T's $30/mo. The T-Mobile plan also comes with 400 text messages, which AT&T does not. 400 text messages is more than sufficient for me. So really, this saves me $10/month.
I did have a problem last night while on a conference call -- the call dropped 3 times in 1 hour. I called T-Mobile immediately afterward, where I was sent to three different unhelpful but friendly technical support representatives. The first representative actually called the person I had been on a call with and kept him on the line for 10 minutes to see if his phone was dropping calls (I had tried to explain that I was on a conference call, and I was the only one dropping out of the call). The second person (level two technical support) told me he was sending me over to a "G1 specialist." This G1 specialist asked me to turn off and then turn on my phone. Wow. I couldn't have done it without her.
Today my boyfriend called me and kept me on the line during his commute to work (about 40 min) and no dropped call. Not sure if it's because he's on T-Mobile too or the off/on trick really did work.
Ultimately, I'm not sure if the G1 is taking away any market share. Would I have bought an iPhone eventually? I doubt it. But I picked up the G1 on the day it came out. I'm just happy that the Honda crowd has a chance to own a phone that reflects their interests instead of settling for a less attractive option. Go Google.
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