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T-Mobile G1 "GooglePhone"

 T-Mobile G1 Discontinued
23rd September 2008
For more photos, see the gallery.

Probably the most anticipated handset since the iPhone 3G, the T-Mobile G1 is the first smartphone to use the Android platform announced last year by Google and a number of other partners.

Android is based on Linux and is in part an open-source initiative that has hundreds (perhaps thousands) of developers working on different applications that an Android phone can use. But what Google have done with the T-Mobile G1 is to come up with a handset that tightly integrates into Google's online services.. and perhaps pose a direct challenge to Microsoft's Windows Mobile and the Apple iPhone experience.

T-Mobile G1: Hardware

Before we look at the software, a quick tour of the hardware. The T-Mobile G1 is made by HTC who have a long history of making Windows Mobile devices, often in partnership with T-Mobile and other carriers.

The G1 is very similar to a typical Windows smartphone in terms of specification - there's a large 3.2" 320 x 480 pixel touchscreen display, a 3.2 megapixel fixed-focus camera, 3G and 3.5G support, WiFi, GPS (plus a digital compass), microSD expandable memory, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity.  The main functions are controlled with a trackball (a little like modern BlackBerry devices), plus there's a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Annoyingly, the T-Mobile G1 has one of HTC's combined USB/audio sockets which means that you cannot use a standard headset without an adaptor. It's quite a heavy device at 158 grams.

 T-Mobile G1 Open The processor is a 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A with 192 MB of RAM which is very similar to HTC's Windows devices. Underneath, this is a quad-band GSM phone with UMTS, HSDPA and HSUPA for high-speed downloads and uploads. The European version has 2100 MHz UMTS/WCDMA, the US version is 700 and 2100 MHz. The G1 also supports GPRS and EDGE data, plus 802.11 b and g WiFi. Maximum talktime on 3G is just under 6 hours with up to 16 days standby time, in part due to the large 1150 mAh battery.

T-Mobile G1: Software

Officially this handset is called the "T-Mobile G1 by HTC", but unofficially it may well end up being called the gPhone or GooglePhone simply because of the way that Google have integrated their applications into the device.

As you would expect, the T-Mobile G1 has one-touch access to Google Search. The T-Mobile G1 has built-in support for Gmail (Google Mail), YouTube (owned by Google), Google Talk (instant messaging) and Google Maps and Google Street View. The mapping support looks particularly clever because it can use the compass to orientate the map depending on where the user is standing. Oddly, this also works with Street View, so you can use the G1 to get a picture of the street you're standing in.. which you could just look at presumably?

 T-Mobile G1 Menu Screen It's not all Google though, the G1 also supports Amazon's new MP3 download store and in the US will have support for AOL and Windows Live instant messaging. There should be a whole load of other applications available from the Android Market.. which sounds like something out of Star Wars, but it is simply a collection of applications and mashups for Android users to play with.

The Android interface is designed to be used with a finger, and is meant to be a simple and fun way of interacting with the device. It looks a little like Windows Vista, and it's certainly different from the look on the iPhone and HTC's TouchFLO smartphones. Quite how polished it will be is a question, as there are indications that the T-Mobile G1 has been a little rushed to market. Still, it should be possible to download updates and enhancements as needed. A couple of demonstration videos have been provided by T-Mobile that you can see at the bottom of the story.

It's worth pointing out that the media player supports AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, MIDI, MP3, WMA and WMV audio formats, although what video formats the G1 supports is unclear. As we mentioned before, YouTube is supported. There's also a web browser, standard email client and a bunch of other applications built into the phone.

T-Mobile G1: Pros and Cons

When it comes to looks, the G1 lacks the "wow factor" of other handsets, although it looks quite smart and minimalistic. Although the 320 x 480 pixel display is better than most of the competition, we really feel that proper web browsing requires more pixels. There's no mention of geotagging for the camera, nor what sort of video capture resolution it might have. It's a heavy device to carry around, although it's certainly lighter than the massive Nokia E90. And we really don't know how buggy this new operating system is going to be.

On the other hand, it's a refreshingly different approach from the rest of the field, and this is a very high-spec device which should suit most power users. And if you use Google's services a lot, then this "GooglePhone" looks ideal.

T-Mobile G1: Availability

We understand that the T-Mobile G1 will be available in the US from October 22nd for $179 when taken out with a two-year contract. The UK will follow in November, with other T-Mobile regions following during early 2009.


If the T-Mobile G1 can keep the bugs to a minimum, then this could well be a really desirable handset. It stops short of being a great handset because it's outclassed by the HTC Touch HD and other recent releases in hardware terms. T-Mobile's pricing looks good too.

However, there's a rumour going around that the next Nokia "Internet Tablet" might also be a phone.. and that will pitch Nokia directly against Android in the smartphone market. And then there's whatever Microsoft has up its sleeve with Windows Mobile 7. Whatever you feel about Android and the T-Mobile G1, it's worth remembering that this sort of competition is very, very good for consumers.

For more photos, see the gallery.

Demonstration videos

A brief demonstration (without commentary) of the Android interface on the T-Mobile G1:

A longer demonstration of some of the G1's different aspects:

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T-Mobile G1 (HTC G1) at a glance


Q4 2008 / Q1 2009


GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 2100 (Europe) or
UMTS 1700 / 2100 (US)




480 x 320 pixels


3.2 megapixels


PDA-style device
118 x 56 x 17mm / 154 grams



Memory card:










Battery life:

5.8 hours talk / 16 days standby (3G)
6.8 hours talk / 13 days standby (GSM)


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