I have a confession to make. The new Google G1 smartphone appeals to me a lot more than the iPhone does. Not in terms of slickness and coolness of course, but actually, even though it’s about 30% thicker and nearly 20% heavier than the iPhone, I kinda’ like the G1’s more understated and utilitarian look.
I don’t own a smartphone. I live at least 30 miles from the nearest GSM coverage and we barely get digital voice service here. But were I in the market, I would be leaning toward the G1 for a variety of reasons – appearance being well-down on the list.
For one thing, I’m not a touchscreen fan and prefer a physical keyboard. The G1 has a retractable one as well as a touchscreen (albeit not MultiTouch). I like easily user-replaceable batteries; G1 has one, iPhone doesn’t. I like lots of manual controls. The G1 has a trackball and arrow keys.
As for the G1 not being video-enabled, I can live with that. Watching movies and TV shows on a tiny display doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. I also don’t mind putting up with some advertising in order to keep costs down. Google is the master of that motif. That, and the open platform should make the G1 a much more economical smartphone option than being locked in to the draconian contract package provisions and fees for iPhone service imposed by AT&T in the U.S. and the even more outrageously expensive and restrictive ones piled on by Rogers Wireless here in Canada.
But the biggest factor tipping the scales toward the G1 for me? The iPhone is a heavily locked-down platform. G1 is open. You can unlock it after 90 days. You can use any SIM card from any carrier in it. The Android OS is free and Open Source. Any software publisher can design programs that run on the G1 and its Android operating system.
I like open systems that give the user maximum choice, flexibility and control. When I buy a product, I resent the vendor dictating how I can use it, but Apple products have for the most part been highly proprietary in nature. Apple has always been inclined to discourage user tinkering, or even maintenance on its hardware products. Temperamentally, I would probably be more inclined to be a Linux fan rather than a Mac aficionado, being much more sympatico with the freebooting, mix and match motif of Open Source movement, except, except…the Mac OS is such a superb tool and the whole Mac experience is so elegant. I love the Mac OS for its transparent, versatile, low-hassle user-friendliness and dependability. However, that dynamic of superiority doesn’t necessarily translate gracefully to the smartphone context.
When I finally do get a smartphone, the available players could well be quite different from current offerings, but for now I would be inclined to pick the G1 (when it becomes available in Canada) over the iPhone.