T-Mobile delivers the G1 (aka Android) phone

You can think of it as a touch-screen smartphone, plain and simple, or as Google's first big step into the telecommunications sector.

This was the first G1 sold, at a T-Mobile store in San Francisco. James Martin/CNET News

T-Mobile USA on Wednesday made the formal, nationwide launch of its G1, the first phone to run Google's Android operating system.

The G1 smartphone is now available to consumers at retail outlets in cities where T-Mobile's 3G service is available, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Seattle. The company made its first retail sale of the G1 Tuesday evening in San Francisco.

Along with 3G support, the HTC-built G1 features a touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, and GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. But the big attraction for many will be the open-source Android software , the means by which Google is seeking to up-end the old ways of the telecommunications business.

The Android mobile operating system is closely tied to Google services and, says CNET News' Stephen Shankland, it gives the Internet titan yet another way to get people to use them. For instance:

Search ads are, of course, Google's bread and butter. Android's Web browser can use others' search engines, but a secondary part of the G1's home screen features a prominent Google search box. There's no option to change the search box to use search from Microsoft or Yahoo.

CNET Reviews, meanwhile, offers this bottom line on the G1 as a phone:

While we're not in love with the design and would have liked some additional features, the real beauty of the T-Mobile G1 is the Google Android platform, as it has the potential to make smartphones more personal and powerful. That said, it's not quite there yet, so for now, the G1 is best suited for early adopters and gadget hounds, rather than consumers and business users.

For the full review, see: HTC Dream T-Mobile G1. CNET's Kent German, too, offers his own assessment: On Call: Welcoming the G1 .

Over the summer, Google unveiled the Android Market, an online resource akin to Apple's App Store for the iPhone, but for software applications designed for the Android operating system.

On Tuesday, Kyocera Wireless said it, too, would be building an Android-based phone.

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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