By March 25, 2009

T-Mobile G1 review

To be honest I have not taken a lot of notice of the whole G1 / Android situation, as a loyal and long time Windows Mobile user, I have not really seen the need to change, granted WM is not by any means perfect, it does the job. So now is the time to see what I have been missing out on, will the G1 / Android convince me that there is more to life than Windows?

Made by HTC the Google Android G1 is their first departure from Windows Mobile that I know of, it has been developed and designed to be open source and, in a lot of ways, better than Windows Mobile, in such things as the ability to customise and a more computer like experience.


The T-Mobile G1 Android phone


The review unit is the T-mobile version of the phone which it appears is theirs exclusively; I did try other SIM’s in the phone with no real success, it looks like they have this locked down pretty well, for now..

What’s in the box?

  • The G1 of course
  • Stereo headset with in-line mic, the connector is ext-miniUSB.
  • Getting started Guide and CD
  • Some stickers?!
  • Screen protector
  • Protective pouch
  • USB to miniUSB sync / charge cable
  • AC charger

Take a look at Matt’s T-Mobile G1 unboxing video for more details.


T-Mobile G1 specification:

  • 55.7×117.7×17.1mm
  • 158 grams
  • Google Android 1.0
  • 32bit Qualcomm MSM7201A 528MHz CPU
  • 192MB RAM, 256MB ROM
  • 3.2" 320×480 color transflective TFT LCD
  • Proprietary audio jack
  • GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900
  • UMTS1700, UMTS2100
  • microSDHC memory card slot
  • mini-USB port
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • WLAN – 802.11b/g
  • GPS, A-GPS, QuickGPS
  • Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
  • Accelerometer
  • 3.1MP camera with autofocus
  • 1150mAh removable battery


The top of the phone as nothing to show except the back cover release clip.

T-Mobile G1 top view

T-Mobile G1 top view


On the left hand side has the up/down volume rocker, and also the covered microSD card housing which you have to have the keyboard open to access.

T-Mobile G1 left side

T-Mobile G1 left side


The right hand side has the dedicated camera button

T-Mobile G1 right side

T-Mobile G1 right side


On the bottom there is the covered miniUSB port for charging/syncing/headset etc. Also the mic.

T-Mobile G1 bottom view

T-Mobile G1 bottom view



The business end of the phone shows a 3.2" 320×480 screen, under which is a trackball which also functions as an enter button, positioned in the middle, around this from left to right is the phone answer button, a ‘home’ button, a back button and finally the phone end / power button.

T-Mobile G1 front view

T-Mobile G1 front view


The G1 has a strange arcing slide open motion which reveals the 5 row keyboard covered in the review. The slide mechanism can be seen on Matt’s unboxing video.

T-Mobile G1 keyboard open view

T-Mobile G1 keyboard open view


  • Superb screen
  • Very customisable
  • Trackball
  • Call quality
  • GPS


  • Awkward keyboard
  • Camera



My first impression of the G1 out of the box is that it is butt ugly. I don’t like the white and given a choice I would plump for the black version, having said that my wife loved the look and colour. It comes in at 55.7×117.7×17.1mm so you definitely know where it is in your pocket, though not overly large for a phone with a full keyboard.

At this point I would normally take a look the software; this review differs in this respect as the first impression of the Android operating system was that it appears boring and basic, there is a novel 3 screen ‘Today’ screen, the middle screen showing the typical clock, contacts, phone, messaging icons as standard. Swipe the screen right and there is a blank screen to add your own program shortcuts, swipe left and there is a Google search bar preinstalled and room for further icons/programs. It all seems a little bland and uninteresting but then…

There is a tab at the bottom of the middle screen which when swiped up displays the menu of settings and programs available, not that unusual until you find the ‘Market’ icon which revolutionises the G1 and enables you to customise your device with a plethora of software available from the market, some free, some trials and some you have to pay a modest amount for. This is really where the OS come into its own, I spent many a happy hour in the market, trying out a host of applications from the open source, there are literally hundreds available and far too many to describe in detail, such things as ‘WeatherBug’, ‘Twitter notifier’, ‘Power manager’, ‘Compass’, ’Easytext’ etc. etc. etc. where some of my personal favourites among many. The device is ideal for a gadget freak like me as you can customise to your heart’s content, you can have minimalist, cluttered, techy whatever you fancy.

To top this, the status bar at the top of the device is also very useful, showing icons for such things as incoming email, text, RSS feeds, twitter updates, weather info etc. swipe this bar down and all your notifications are now readable and useable, another clever piece of development.

As for the device itself as a few things to mention good and bad, firstly there is no stylus, this is deliberate as the G1 has been developed to be finger touch friendly and mostly it does achieve this and there was the odd occasion I found a pen was more appropriate to use than my fingers. The superb screen is very bright and vibrant and it has to be said is one of the best ones I have seen in a long time. It is very responsive and proves to be a great screen to live with.

The keyboard, is OK, there is a real niggle with the fact that when open, you have to straddle the buttons housing on the right had side of the keyboard, awkward to say the least. If you have read any of my previous reviews the 2 things I am not a fan of are trackballs and keyboards which are both found here, therefore there is no way i can get on with using this phone on a day to day basis.

The great surprise is that I enjoyed using both; the trackball is VERY responsive and easy to use, flying round the screen and proving very accurate, I found that I used this all the time, which is more than unusual for me.

The keyboard once you get passed the straddling piece, is quite well laid out, positive and again easy to use, the fact that for most things such as email and texting you have to have the keyboard open means that it is a case of having to get used to it. I feel that the omission of an on screen keyboard is a mistake, as to just quickly send a text you have to open and use the keyboard, there is no facility to use the device in portrait, no doubt with the open source and ongoing development a screen based keypad won’t be long in coming.

I did find it difficult you use the keyboard in its default mode as the white keys along with the white backlight made it impossible to see the letters, apparently this is not an issue on the black model, and I have seem a modified keyboard with black keys on the white model which seems to work well. There is an option to switch off the backlight, which work for me.


The next surprise for me was the GPS fix, I have never been able to get these things working very well in my area, the GPS on the G1 fixed everywhere I tried in a matter of a couple of seconds, locking on to multiple satellites with ease, therefore making using software like Google maps a breeze.

The camera is a 3.1 megapixel variety, not the best, in fact not really that good at all. Definitely one of the lowlights for me.

Call quality and signal fix, where available were good, I have to say that this is the first time I have used T-mobile in this area and was disappointed to occasionally find that I had no signal at all, something I have never had on my O2 contract.

The back cover was a bit scary for me as once unclipped you have to get quite physical with it to release it fully, in time this might prove to be a problem.

Also, for me, the lack of some settings menus was a further aggravation, as far as I could tell there is no way to set things like screen brightness etc. it may have been that I missed it in my relatively short time with the device, but I remember a few times wanting to change some of the settings and not being able to find a way to do it, as you can on Windows mobile.




I have really enjoyed my time with the T-mobile G1, it has been a refreshing change and a pleasurable one, to the point when Matt asked for it back I stalled as long as I could.

I don’t like the phone design itself, as I have said, I really like the uniqueness of the OS, given time, with even more development of the programs and the addition of this system on a better looking and more useable phone this will be a great move away from windows. Couple together the best bits of WM and android and the future is looking good. Well done all involved.


Review by: Steve

[ Post Tags: t-mobile G1,HTC Dream,press release,smartphone news, ]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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