The first reviews of T-Mobile’s new G1 “Gphone” are in—and it’s at least as good as the iPhone, if the initial reviewers are to be believed. And considering who some of these reviewers are, it’s probably true.
What’s the consensus? While it’s not a bad little device, T-Mobile’s 3G coverage sucks (20, soon to be 30 cities), the phone should have a better media player and a standard headphone jack, the keyboard is a nice feature but not the easiest to use, not enough built in storage. But Android appears to be pretty solid as a mobile OS, and if the G1 isn’t the most impressive premiere ever, it’s probably a harbinger of good things to come.
Here are some of the bottom lines of the reviews from around the Internet:
Walter Mossberg, Wall Street Journal:
I have been testing the G1 extensively, in multiple cities and in multiple scenarios. In general, I like it and consider it a worthy competitor to the iPhone. Both devices run on fast 3G phone networks and include Wi-Fi. Both have smart-touch interfaces and robust Web browsers. Both have the ability to easily download third-party apps, or programs.
But the two devices have different strengths and weaknesses, and are likely to attract different types of users.
If you’ve been lusting after the iPhone’s functionality, but didn’t like its virtual keyboard or its user interface or its U.S. carrier, AT&T, the G1 may be just the ticket for you. But it does have some significant downsides.
Jason Chen, Gizmodo (with lots of pictures of the device in action):
Despite all the UI quirks and bad design decisions, it’s still better than other smartphone OSes out there. It’s not perfect, but for people who like tinkering, its cons are outweighed by its pros such as Gmail and the Marketplace. Hopefully Android updates and more ports of Google apps will augment not just future phones but this one too. This isn’t something you’re going to give your mom for Christmas, but if you’re an adventuresome gadget guy with some money to spend ($179) on a totally new, pretty exciting venture, then why not?
David Pogue, New York Times:
The G1 is quite obviously intended to be an iPhone killer. Assessing its success, however, is tricky, because it’s the sum of three parts. Google wrote the software, HTC made the phone and T-Mobile provides the network. What you really need is separate reviews of each. . . .
The Android software looks, feels and works a lot like the iPhone’s. Not as consistent or as attractive, but smartly designed and, for version 1.0, surprisingly complete. . . .
So there’s your G1 report card: software, A-. Phone, B-. Network, C.
Om Malik, GigaOm:
This isn’t an iPhone competitor. If you look at it, you can very quickly see that the G-1 is a Honda to iPhone’s BMW. After a few days of usage I have become increasingly convinced that people who like the Apple iPhone will find Google-based G-1 aesthetically lacking. . . .
So what is my verdict? Will I recommend this phone to anyone out there looking for a smartphone? The answer is yes, especially if you don’t much care for either Windows Mobile or Apple’s iPhone device.
Tricia Duryee, mocoNews.net:
My final conclusion is that the G1 rivals the iPhone in fun, and offers an unparalleled experience when it comes to customizing the device, but suffers a bit because learning all of its features takes time. Finally, when it comes to using it for work, the G1 is not perfect.
Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch:
I can’t put it down.
That is not to say that I have set aside my iPhone. In fact, I still carry that around in my pocket as well, right next to the G1. (Yes, I know it’s weird). After living with both side by side for a few days, my initial impression has deepened that the G1 is no iPhone. But I’m also convinced that it doesn’t really matter. The Android is going to be a runaway success once it goes on sale October 22.
Peter Ha, CrunchGear:
You know how Google likes to keep things in Beta for years and years? Well, Android is no different. Like many of you I was excited at the prospect of a new OS to muscle it’s way in and take down the iPhone, but I’m afraid Android is not it – at least not yet. The OS actually isn’t that bad, but it does have its issues and those cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately it’s the hardware that will be Android’s folly this go around until the other manufacturers can churn out some better goods. . . .
If you’ve been waiting for Android then I suggest you keep waiting. The overall OS seems to be held together by duct tape and needs a lot of work. Apple focuses on the minute details to enrich the overall experience for iPhone users and Android could learn a lesson or ten from it. The hardware design is dated and while the touch-screen and keyboard are great you can’t just forget about the wretched battery life, horrible GPS and the overall ergonomics of it. I wish the G1 were better in every respect because I don’t think the iPhone is that great, but I find myself wishing it were more like it. It’s the best alternative to the iPhone, but it’s just not there yet.
Joshua Topolsky, Engadget:
At the end of the day, however, this isn’t about the hardware, and really never was. The story here is Android and what it promises… though doesn’t necessarily deliver on at first. Like any paradigm shift, it’s going to take time. There is tremendous potential for this OS on mobile devices — it truly realizes the open ideals laid out by Google when they announced this project. The only problem seems to be the stuff they either left on the back burner, cutting room floor, or hoped would come from that exciting, untapped world of open source developers. While there’s plenty to praise in this phone, there’s a lot more that’s missing — and some of those missing elements are what we consider to be core components of a device in the G1’s class.
Shortcomings aside, though, you’re still buying into one of the most exiting developments in the mobile world in recent memory. When you put the G1 up against, say, a Sidekick LX, it seems like a no-brainer for T-Mobile customers looking for a powerful QWERTY device — especially at $20 less. You don’t need to be a cutting-edge mobile geek or a pundit to do that math. When facing off with platforms like the iPhone and Windows Mobile devices, it holds its own, but has a lot of ground to cover before it’s really making the competition sweat.
Matthew Miller, ZDNet with hundreds of screen caps from the G1:
The T-Mobile G1 is highly functional out of the box and doesn’t require any tweaking to get things up and running. With the Android Market and the refined OS, even adding applications is quick and easy on the G1. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg for the Google Android OS and with Google behind it along with companies like HTC, T-Mobile, Samsung, Verizon, Motorola, and LG there appears to be a large network of support for the future and I am very excited about what we will see next year.
Even though the G1 is not perfect, I have to say I am extremely happy with the device and am please I purchased one. . . .
Without a doubt, people will compare the G1 to the iPhone and out of the box you honestly have to say the G1 wins over the original iPhone with wireless syncing capability, cut/copy/paste, games, a wireless music store, application store and 3rd party application support, integrated GPS, multiple client IM clients, and multi-tasking capability.
While you can unlock the phone to free it from T-Mobile’s network, Business Week points out that other GSM networks (okay, AT&T, which has better coverage, but we’ve all heard how well they’ve worked with the iPhone) use different frequencies, so that solution may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
What do you think based on the initial reviews—G1 Gphone, iPhone, or door #3?