On Friday my Google Dev Phone 1 (aka HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1) arrived.
It’s about AUD$800 delivered to Australia (USD$399 + USD$50 Shipping + USD$25 Dev Signup). Google recently discovered that Australia wasn’t on Mars, and dropped the shipping cost from USD$150 to USD$50 or so.
Here’s my notes so far:
- Slide out qwerty keyboard – works well, takes a little getting used to the layout, but it’s good enough for reasonable length of text entry.
- Trackball – seems a little gimmicky, but for some apps it’s useful.
- Construction – Feels reasonably solid – the back cover might be a problem later. The only fault is that apparently the battery does come loose from it’s position on some phones (James has this issue). Easily fixed by using paper shims, but it’s not the best experience.
- Screen – It’s fairly bright, but it’s difficult to use in direct sunlight like every other LCD out there. Also, this isn’t a multi-touch device (the hardware supports it – it’s a software / patent issue afaik) so some things like Zooming don’t work like on the iphone
- Sound I havn’t tested much – the speakers are the usual tinny things used in anything smaller than a laptop. The biggest disappointment is a lack of 3.5″ headphone port. It runs (like other HTC Devices) through an adaptor plugged into the single mini-USB port. The same port is used for charging too – so you’ll need a double adaptor (See eBay) if you want to do both at once. The quality seems decent enough for a mobile.
- Gmail or death. There is no option to use the device WITHOUT a Gmail account. Don’t like it – tough luck. Until someone implements full Exchange support (including remote wipe), I’d avoid using it for business purposes.
- Over-the-air everything. From Installing/updating apps, to checking email and syncing contacts – it all happens over whatever your internet connection is. There is currently no software to install on your PC.
- Multitasking ftw. Every app runs in it’s own VM, and when you switch tasks the state is suspended and (potentially) saved to storage. This keeps your foreground app running nice and fast. Apps can still run tasks in the background (eg for IM, PUSH Email, etc) – so you can still get notifications. The phone will keep multiple tasks in memory, in the suspended state – but if the phone needs room it’ll dump the least recently used apps to storage.
- Notifications – Background tasks notify through a central Notifications panel – this is a pull-down from almost anywhere on the phone that lets you quickly switch back to other apps.
- VERY easy to use and install waaaay too much stuff at once.
- I love that you can see what permissions apps are requesting when you go to install them.
- There’s a built in comments/rating system – when you select an app from the Market, it shows this commentary.
- Completely over the air – browsing, downloading, installing and upgrading apps is done over the air.
- App coverage is decent for something with very little market penetration and mostly for geeks. My favorite app is “Zombie, Run!” which harnesses Google Maps and GPS integration to overlay where Zombies are around you. Said Zombies shamble towards you based on three speeds.
Contact / Data Sync:
- Uses GMail Contacts as the sync backend. Because there’s no PC Sync functions, you can’t sync with Outlook.
- You can import from CSV, but this is very error prone (at least, for me and James), and ends up with orphaned, ignored, just plain empty Contacts.
- Won’t connect over Bluetooth with a N95 to transfer contacts (Attempts to connect and fails) – so can’t send all the contacts as business cards.
- Overall Contact management is very disappointing and not well thought out (sure, adding one at a time is fine – but time consuming).
Multiple Account Support:
- Like every other smart phone out there – only supports one account in any sane manner. You CAN set up the other accounts via imap, but this isn’t the best experience (no PUSH, for instance).
Overall summary so far:
Good for gadget freaks and devs looking to launch on the Android platform.
Android is very obviously missing some major pieces of functionality though. I can live without Exchange email, but I can’t live without the Sync’ed contacts. (Exporting back and forth is a PITA). Symbian/Nokia got this right with the Exchange app which, while slow, can manage to sync all the contacts in the Address book with Exchange and vice versa.
The Market functionality is neat, and because apps can run in the background (and have tighter integration with the hardware) unlike the iPhone – has a lot of potential.
Forgot to mention – Gmail on the Android is done via PUSH – so you get notification of new email as it arrives – just like Exchange with Outlook/iPhone/Blackberry.