T-Mobile G1 phone Review

What better way to review the G1 phone than to write this review from the device itself? For over three hours each day, I’m in commute. By car, train and even by boat, my trip leaves me without access to a desktop computer. Considering the nature of my business, that’s way too long. Instead of mindlessly gazing into space, this time can be more productive with a good phone.

Is the G1 that phone?

Previously, I used the Sidekick III. It was a solid phone. Yet, it was starting to show signs of age. The browser was limited and slow. It was starting to frustrate me. I liked the idea that T-Mobile was releasing a more modern phone. But unfortunately, maybe the G1 is too new.

My G1 phone arrive a day early. I was excited when I opened the box. The phone looks better in real life, but my good feelings were immediately diminished. I turned the device on, revealing a bright screen… and two bad pixels. There was also a speck dust inside the phone. OK, that’s minor. I can look past that, but what’s up with the weird headphones? Why were the wires uneven? The right ear piece was much longer than the left. The phone’s case looked cheap. Unlike the Sidekick II & III, this G1 case did not have a belt clip.

I was a little overwhelmed. I realized that it would take a while to adjust to this phone. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do that. Fighting the desire to return the phone, I investigated the device further. The more I learned how to use the G1, the more I liked it. The device feels powerful. I needed practice to master that power.

Within a short time, I was downloading applications, using the map features and smudging up my screen. Yes, the G1 is a touch screen device. Yet, that feature is not as important to me as the “QWERTY” keyboard. Otherwise, I might have purchased the iPhone instead. To me, a mobile phone is for communication. Since I use text messaging more than voice, I prefer the speed of a real keyboard and the precision of a trackball.

On my first day out with my new phone, I was really happy. I was browsing the Internet, sending text messages, tracking my commute with the map and listening to music. Wow, what a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, it was short lived. It wasn’t even 10:00 AM, but my phone was down to 58% power. After letting my battery die, and then charging it fully, I started seeing somewhat better battery life. Yet, power is a major concern of the phone. Fortunately, I can use a powered USB port and a cable to charge my phone.

I think I’m tolerant of these imperfections because the phone is fairly inexpensive. It’s $35 for unlimited data / text. I’m in NYC, so I get to enjoy the 3G speeds. With my $20 voice plan, the monthly bill is not horrible. I’m also impressed with the call quality. It is a phone, so it’s good to know that the sound is sharp.

It’s not a complete improvement over the Sidekick. I can’t cut & paste web pages. I can’t undo typing mistakes. I dislike the G1 headphones. The cover is lacking a belt clip. The battery life is weak. The phone feels a little lopsided. The headphone/power jack is in a bad spot for typing. Compass mode seems incorrect. The keys are flat, making it harder to type. The camera lags before shooting.

Yet, I still like the phone.

The G1 looks more professional. The touchscreen is fun. Android Market has tremendous potential – especially for gamers. The speed is good. Touchscreen web browsing is fun. The phone is lighter than I expected. The screen is bright and crisp. The phone has decent support for YouTube, AIM, GMAIL, email and other communication applications. The G1 is powerful. The best part is that this is the beginning.

Note: I used a real computer to spell check and edit the article.