Today we finally got our hands on the Google's Android platform. Boasting a large touchscreen and scroll ball similar to the , we immediately found the G1 very easy to get to grips with. Its screen is as responsive as the iPhone's and when you need some extra accuracy the scroll ball comes in very handy -- particularly when using the Web broswer, which we'll talk about later., the first commercially available phone to run
Where the G1 really comes into its own is when you see the slide-out Qwerty keypad -- it's well-laid out and very easy to use, perfect for tapping out long messages on or updating your Facebook status. It's not a small device by any means, but it does feel very sturdy. Indeed, our only disappointment with it is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can't plug in a standard pair of headphones.
In terms of the Android interface, our first impressions are really positive. When you turn the G1 on you're presented with a simple start page that features a large clock. You can add applications by clicking on the menu button and dragging and dropping the ones you use most. If you want to add extra apps, you visit the Android Market, Google's version of the iPhone app store, which features both free and paid-for programs.
The native ones are made up of Google's arsenal of well-known apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Calendar and Google Talk, which work well but don't include VoIP. We were told by T-Mobile that a VoIP app is likely in the future, but you'd have to pay extra if you wanted to use it. In terms of pricing, the G1 will be free on a £40 per month contract, which includes unlimited Internet, and will be made available in November. There will be no pay as you go option at launch, but there might be one later on.
Specs-wise, the G1 comes with a microSDHC slot and a 2GB card, which you can upgrade to 8GB. A 3.2-megapixel camera sits at the back, but as leaked earlier, it can't record video -- something we hoped it would do considering that the iPhone doesn't offer it. Hilariously, given the amount of stick the iPhone has taken, the G1 doesn't have full copy and paste. Equally strange is the lack of stereo Bluetooth, which again isn't featured on the iPhone and is more annoying since there isn't a 3.5mm jack as an alternative. News that Amazon will be providing a download service to the US version of the G1 unfortunately won't be echoed in the UK just yet, which was predictable.
T-Mobile told us that the G1 will be the first Google handset in the UK and indeed all of Europe, with other European countries having to wait until next year for the G1. T-Mobile also stated that it will have the exclusive on the G1 and that we'll be unlikely to see other manufaturers enter the fray until 2009. The pre-Christmas marketing campaign will focus on the phone's communication abilities, something T-Mobile seems particularly proud of. -Andrew Lim
Update: A previous version of this article stated that the G1 doesn't have copy and paste. This isn't quite accurate -- you can copy and paste from text boxes that you can edit, but not all text you can see, for example in the browser.
Update 2: Read our in-depth T-Mobile G1 preview here.
On the G1's left-hand side, you see the microSDHC slot on the right and the volume key on the left.
The G1's glossy back contains its 3.2-megapixel camera.
Ta-da! The G1's Qwerty keypad is really easy to use.
This ugly port triples up as USB input, charger and headphone socket (boo!).
Surfing the Web is fast and easy.
Here's the Android Market, the G1's apps store. We think it's a marvellously dorky name.
Next to the slightly smaller iPhone 3G.