Hands On with the T-Mobile G1 by HTC: Is it the next iPhone?

After a long wait, Google's Android smartphone is finally here. Manufactured by HTC, the G1 packs a touch screen display, Qwerty keyboard, 3.2-megapixel camera, 3G, and Wi-Fi. But do all these features make it worth the jump to T-Mobile?

The hardware
When it comes to smartphones, HTC is no slouch. They're responsible for the HTC Touch and Sprint's just-released HTC Touch Pro. That's why we were somewhat disappointed when we got our hands on the G1. It's thicker, heavier, and downright clunkier than most smartphones we've seen. We particularly disliked that the bottom of the phone juts out (like a chin) adding extra bulk to your pocket. The chin is also responsible for housing the G1's navigational controls, which include Menu, Call, Home, Back, and End Call buttons. In between the buttons you'll see the G1's clickable trackball, which looks and operates like the ball found inside Apple's Mighty Mouse.

The G1 has a 3.17" touch screen display, which is roughly 0.4" smaller than the iPhone 3G's screen, but carries the same 480x320 resolution. Rotate the phone, slide the touch screen up, and you'll find a full QWERTY keyboard lying underneath. This lets you use the G1 much like a Sidekick. The keypad is backlit and the buttons are evenly spaced, but the G1's chin makes typing with the G1 frustrating. It gets in the way of your right hand and forces your right hand/thumb to reach over it in order to access the keypad. For us this was a massive design flaw, although people with smaller hands will be able to type with no problem.

Underneath the phone's chin lies a mini USB connector, which lets you charge the phone and connect it to your computer or USB headphones (the G1 has no 3.5mm jack, so you must use the bundled USB headphones). Along the left spine you'll find a volume rocker and microSD memory card slot. The back panel reveals the phone's camera lens along with a mono speaker, whereas the right spine houses the camera's shutter button.

Design-wise, the G1 doesn't come close to matching Apple's iPhone or even some of the better looking Blackberries. In addition, after a few days of use, we noticed our screen began squeaking every time we'd slide it up to use the keypad — yet another sign HTC should've taken more time designing this phone. However, even with its design flaws, it's simple to overlook the G1's deficiencies — the software is what really makes this phone stand out.


  • The Software
  • Final Verdict
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