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HTC G1: First Impressions

A DreamI finally received my T-Mobile G1 on Wednesday. I have been waiting to get a good smartphone for the longest time. I had my Motorola Razr for roughly four years. It finally broke down on me in January and I have been using an old Samsung slider to hold me over until now. I have used it for two full days now, but I haven’t fallen into a normal day with it yet. I still find myself playing with it on and off all day long which affects the battery life a lot. I will talk about that a little later.

I would first like to state the obvious. This is not an iPhone copy. In many ways it is the anti-iPhone. If you were hoping that the G1 was just like the iPhone you should probably just go out and get the iPhone. What I was most nervous about was how responsive the touchscreen would be. I was relieved when I tried it out. It’s good or even as good as the iPhone touchscreen. It is lacking multi-touch though. A bummer, but I think I’ll live.

The integration with Gmail and Google Calendar is, as you would expect. It works great. Syncs fast assuming your internet connection is fast. Speaking of internet connections, the wi-fi is works great. It supports the usual (WEP, WPA personal, WPA2 Personal). I set up my G1 on my home network fairly quick. It also has 3G support and depending on where you live, you may not have any signal. I have been able to get 3G in most of my regular spots, but I will need to try it out in more places to see how good the coverage is. When it is connected, it’s quick. I like it. I have even tested it on the EDGE network. It is a lot slower, but it is usable.

There are some features of the G1 that I am really impressed with. First is the slide out physical keyboard. It takes a little getting used to, but I was able to type quickly by the second day. I’ve heard ome complaints about the keyboard being to flush with the surface, but I really did not find that to be an issue.

The second feature that I actually love is the status bar blinds. Whenever there is a system notification, a little icon pops up in the status bar on the top of the screen. Just use your finger to slide or “pull” down the a window like a blind. Once that is open you’ll see a list of the notifications. These may include new emails, new im’s, missed calls, and also application notices. Clicking on a notification will jump to the appropriate application (i.e. a click on a new email notice will bring you to gmail).

The last thing I’d like to mention here is the trackball. It is very much like the Blackberry one. It functions as a redundant navigation input. Moving the trackball will highlight any clickable object on the screen. Pushing down on the trackball with act as a tap. This is extremely helpful when browsing the internet. The browser is a “full” browser so it renders the whole page. When you have the page has little tiny links, you don’t’ have to zoom in just to click them with your fingers. The trackball saves you time there.

There are plenty of other things to be excited about, but I used the phone long enough to have a solid opinion on them. I would like to mention something that is definitely a negative. The battery life on the G1 is not great at all. I have heard it is similar to the 3G iPhone. It is, however, usable on a normal day if you are not constantly interacting with it all day. I did a few things to help extend it’s life. First thing is I reduced the screen brightness. The second thing is I made sure to turn off the wi-fi when I was nowhere near a network. The constant seeking really kills the battery. Another thing is to turn off the display when you’re not using it. When I do all that, the phone definitely works through my work day. I’ll know how it is on a weekend day tomorrow.

Overall, I am really loving this phone. There are a lot more great features as well as drawbacks that I can talk about, but I want to spend more time with it first. I’ll probably write a follow up post later next.



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