You may have noticed I’ve been looking for a smartphone for a while, and looking at the T-Mobile G1 more or less since it was announced. Well, I finally went for it. I was going through piles of papers on my desk and realized I had almost enough cashback bonus on one of my credit cards to cover the upgrade cost. And I was already seriously considering adding a data plan in order to put Opera Mini on my RAZR.
So I went down to the nearest T-Mobile store, asked about a couple of issues that hadn’t turned up in my previous research, and got the last one in stock. There was a couple there before me looking at them, but they said they weren’t ready to buy, just researching.
It took me about an hour to activate the phone, mainly because I didn’t have a data plan beforehand and it can take that long for a new plan to take effect. Once I did, I started
playing around experimenting with it. (Unfortunately this meant a lot of the things I was going to do this afternoon…didn’t get done. Oh, well.)
- I really like the keyboard. Even though I’m using my thumbs, just knowing where the keys are (and not having to do any kind of combos for letters & numbers) means that I can type much faster than I could on the RAZR. I’m already starting to get used to some of the secondary characters, like dashes and such.
- Real web access! The web rendering is very nice. But then it’s WebKit, so it’s basically the same as Chrome or Safari, so that’s not a huge surprise.
- Twitdroid (a Twitter app) and Quickpedia (an optimized front-end for Wikipedia) have impressed me so far.
- There’s a tip calculator app called BistroMath. I had to pick it up or the name alone. (Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work as an FTL drive.)
- I absolutely love being able to look things up online instantly!
- Wi-Fi was easy to set up, including WPA2 security, so I can use our wireless network at home.
- Wallpaper selection is very nice, with a built-in crop & resize function.
- Plain old USB charging, which means I can still use the car charger I got for my last phone.
- The WPhone alternate interface for the WordPress admin area, originally developed for the iPhone, is fantastic on the G1! (Too bad they aren’t developing it much anymore.)
- The built-in calculator app includes limited scientific capabilities (trig, logs, roots, etc.)
- My bank has an app that will look up the nearest ATMs or branches to where I am.
- Scrolling by dragging the actual content instead of the scroll bar is surprisingly easy to get used to. Actually a lot of stuff about the UI is like that: awkward at first, but in just a few hours it becomes second nature.
- Our apartment is right on the edge of a cell coverage area, so I haven’t had a chance to try it out on the 3G network yet. But that’s not the phone’s fault.
- It took me a while to figure out how to
synctransfer data via the USB cable, since they’ve changed the way it’s handled since the manual was printed. The manual lists it as a system setting, but it’s now an option that pops up in the notification area when you connect it to a computer.
Not So Good
- The touch screen isn’t always responsive, but that may be because I haven’t removed the screen protector that ships with it. I wanted to pick one up that’s actually designed to be used before I pulled this one off. Update: After replacing the screen protector, it’s much more responsive.
- The covers on the USB port and memory card feel really flimsy.
- Battery life doesn’t seem to be terribly great. In fact, the clerk at the store suggested I charge it nightly.
- I’ve only played with the camera a little but seems slow and isn’t great with artificial lighting.
- Playing around with WordPress and Wikipedia shows how valuable it is to have a layout optimized for the small screen. The Android browser seems to rely entirely on zoom to handle large-screen layouts, and it would be nice to have something like Opera’s fit-to-width option. Update: It seems to ignore handheld stylesheets, which IIRC is true of the iPhone as well. When website providers try to help you with the small screen, maybe you should let them? *sigh* Need to see if it handles media queries, at least for screen size. Update 2: It does have a fit-to-width option, but I’m not entirely sure what it does, given that I keep running into layouts that end up scrolling horizontally.
Stuff I Have Not Tried But Intend To
- Anything involving GPS. I’m inside right now and it can’t get a signal.
- I don’t know how fast the download speed is over 3G. (Wifi is quite nice!) Update: 3G speed seems pretty decent, actually!
- Map directions. But it’s Google Maps, and those are generally quite good.
- I haven’t hooked up my Bluetooth earpiece yet. Update: Pretty simple. I just needed to remember how to put the headset in pairing mode.
- I haven’t tried connecting to an open WiFi network/hotspot.
- I need to do some more testing with the camera, see how it handles daylight, check out image quality, etc.
- I haven’t really messed with voice dialing.
- Email. It automatically links to your Gmail account, and has the ability to access POP and IMAP accounts, but I haven’t tried out any of the above yet.