Thoughts on the T-Mobile G1

G1Well the excitement has died down and the press event ran its course and now it’s time to reflect on what I saw and think about the implications of the G1.  It’s finally official that T-Mobile and Google, or G-Mobile, have married and produced the offspring they have been teasing us about for so long.

The G1 phone itself is exactly what rumors have leaked.  It’s not the thinnest nor narrowest and probably not the lightest phone out there but it shows definite HTC quality from what I could see.  I watched a few videos of analysts playing with the G1 after the event and the QWERTY keyboard looks well designed.  I was happy to see the slider have a definite "click" when it opens and closes, a sign that it is well constructed.  The phone is pretty simple by design and I think that’s a good call as a bevy of buttons would have confused some folks.  The usability will be defined by the UI, not the buttons.  I am glad to see they used a trackball on the front like the Blackberries which are much better than D-pad navigation controls.

The UI was shown too briefly to form an opinion about it which isthe case usually.  You have to play with touch phones to see how theywork but it does look like the touch UI is thoughtfully designed. Ifound the touch and zoom gesture in the browser to be particularlyuseful.  The demos at the press event were carefully set up I’m surebut in the after event it appears that the G1 is very snappy.  I know Ican’t wait to get my hands on one.

The only surprises for me at the press event were T-Mobile related.I expected them to have special data pricing for the G1 and the $25/$35plans are reasonable.  They did confirm you need a voice plan inaddition to the data plan which is not surprising to me.  The $179phone price was less than rumors pegged it and that’s a good thing andquite reasonable.  They’ll end up getting lots of new 2-year contractsas a result when existing customers buy them.  The biggest surprise forme was the admission that you cannot tether the G1 to a laptop forconnectivity.  The T-Mobile rep was not clear if that was a hardware/network limitation or a plan restriction but he was clear that the G1is a mobile device, not a modem.  That won’t take long to break beingopen source.

I was not surprised to hear the G1 will not support Exchange Serverfrom the beginning.  T-Mobile made it clear that they would leave thatto third party developers.  Whoever does that will have to licenseActiveSync from Microsoft I suspect which is part of the reason whyG-Mobile passed on it.  GMail will have push email though and IMAP willbe pull.  Interestingly along these lines there will be no desktopsyncing application so data will only be in sync with the Googlecloud.  They obviously are taking pains to make sure the G1 is astand-alone internet device and not dependent on the desktop in anyway.  The cloud syncing probably means that contacts and calendars willbe "push" in that the phone data will likely always be in sync with thecloud data.

Overall I’m impressed enough with everything I heard and saw aboutthe G1 that I will buy one.  Unfortunately even though the T-Mobilesite says you can order one I can’t find it to actually let me do thatyet.

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