G-Day: T-Mobile’s G1 Phone Hits UK, With Tactic From iPhone’s First-Day Playbook

A week after Americans got their paws on the handset, the first phone packing Google’s Android OS goes on sale here in the UK on Thursday. The flagship Oxford Street store of T-Mobile – which is exclusively carrying phone-maker HTC’s “Dream”, rebadged “G1″ – was opening early at 7am in an effort to drum up some iPhone-like first-day hype.

I tested out US colleagues’ G1s this week and can confirm it’s the best of both worlds – an iPhone like large touchscreen plus a proper keyboard for typing that’s far more reliable than Apple’s handset; a slick, usable gadget that’s more powerful than what, in contrast, is a relatively dumbed-down iPhone. Either way, G1 may not make as many waves as it has in America, where iPhones and qwerty-toting business phones running Windows Mobile are more commonplace. There, T-Mobile has run TV commercials boasting the phone’s mobile web search features to mainstream users.

In the UK, G1 is available free on T-Mobile’s Combi 35 and Flext 40 plans, or at a price on their cheaper equivalents. Existing T-Mobile customers can get the handset on upgrade, but only a month ahead of their contract expiry, meaning the newest upgrade customers will have to had joined T-Mobile 18 or 12 months ago – so the bulk of G1’s take-up must come from churn. As for the rest of us, T-Mobile advised: “To get your hands on a G1 … you’ll need to add a second plan to your T-Mobile account.” I’ll pass on that, unfortunately…

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