Okay, I get it. By buying the first device of its kind (i.e. an Android-powered smartphone), I’m an early adopter. In a sense I was helping out in a massive public beta as Google, mobile phone carriers, and handset manufacturers worked out the kinks in the design and realized things like, “Oh, we really do need more memory than that, don’t we?”

But it’s still annoying to read the early reports that Android 2.0 “Eclair” won’t fit on the G1.

We have done this dance before, when rumors surfaced that the G1 wouldn’t be able to handle Android 1.6 “Donut.” Fortunately, engineers managed to squeeze it into the space available, and T-Mobile sent out Donut as an OTA (over the air) update to MyTouch and G1 devices alike. But I’ve had time to think about the issue, and my thoughts basically come down to this:

  • New software eventually reaches a point when it can no longer support old hardware. You can’t run Snow Leopard on a G4 or Windows 7 on a Pentium II.
  • When the hardware is usually tied to a fixed-term service contract (in this case, 2 years), the provider really ought to fully support it for the length of that contract. The G1 launched 1 year ago with (in most cases) a 2-year contract.
  • Even if this is the last major update, my phone is still better now than it was when I bought it.

It will be very nice if history repeats itself, and Google and/or T-Mobile finds a way to cram Eclair onto the G1. Even if it means dropping the convenience of OTA updates and instead requiring you to download it to a PC and update over a USB cable. More likely, though, they’ll freeze the G1 on Android 1.6 except for bugfix and security updates, and it’ll be up to unofficial distributions like cyanogen to bring a newer OS to the older phone.

Because I don’t really want to mess with rooting my phone and installing a third-party distribution, if this is the end of the line for the G1, well…Android 2 has some really nice features that I’d really like to be able to use, but nothing that screams “must have!” The only real worry I have at this point is that app developers might start requiring newer versions of Android.

The other option: buy a newer phone. I’ll probably want to do that anyway in a year or so, but I’m not there yet. It still feels like I just got this one.

Update (February 26): It turns out the G1 will get Android 2.1 after all, but will probably require wiping the phone. That makes sense, because it would allow developers to reassign some of the space set aside for over-the-air updates and use it for a larger system instead — and maybe more space for apps.

5 thoughts on “G1: No Android 2 for You!

  1. So do you think they will eventually release a newer version of the G1? A G2 perhaps? My contract is about up with T-mobile on my blackberry curve, and I really want to go to the Android platform, but I looove the G1 phone and keyboard. But, I don’t want to be limited in the future like you said, so I guess I should wait and be patient? 🙂

    Thanks for the write-up!


    • This is just one G1 owner’s opinion, but I find it unlikely. The G1 seems to have been essentially a prototype to prove that there’s a market for Android phones. If anything might be a G2, the MyTouch is mostly the same hardware plus more memory and minus the keyboard, but I think we’re more likely to see entirely new phones like the Droid than a revision of the G1.

  2. Wow, you clearly have no idea about “unofficial” modifications. You don’t need root in order to flash a cyanogen rom. Flashing cyanogen GIVES you root. It also protects root with the su app.

    You can also flash ota updates in pretty much the same manner and not get root. You just get the rom as it came, but before it arrived from your carrier or if your carrier don’t send you it. It takes an absolute age for Vodafone to get around to pushing out the updates for me so I just get the OTA update package and flash it manually.

    Also it’s possible to take an ota rom and make it fit on a device like a G1 that it may not have previously fit on, by optimising the applications and images.

    The G1 WILL get android 2. In fact Android 2 source is already out and there are tons of people who’ve compiled it for their G1. This kind of rubbish comes up every time an update is due. There will be a worry that the next version (after 2.1) won’t fit, but it will and everyone will still get it. It will be a while before the G1 is dropped and then there will still be people building it from source. I wish people would just stop spreading it around. I also wish people would stop spreading around the assumption that non-ota updates are untrustworthy, difficult to use/flash or dangerous in some way.

  3. This is pretty sad if true. I agree new software shouldn’t be ruined to support old hardware, but the G1 is the best phone made. The Droid is the most similar and every comparison review I’ve heard has shown that the G1 is far superior. For instance the keyboard has separate keys which makes typing a lot easier than with a giant meshed pad.

    • On the other hand the Droid is faster than the G1, has more memory, a better camera, a built-in headphone jack, a flash for the camera, etc.

      I agree that the keyboard is awful, though. I played around with one in a Best Buy a few weeks ago, and couldn’t stand it.

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