A slew of reviews were released today for T-Mobile's G1, the first Google phone.
David Pogue from the New York Times decided to review the software, phone and network separately. The three criteria received grades of A-, B- and C, respectively:
The T-Mobile G1, the first cellphone with the Android operating system designed by Google, will be available Oct. 22.
Actually, to be completely accurate, there isn't anything called "the Google phone." You can't buy "the Google phone," any more than you can buy "the Windows PC." Google makes the software (called Android), and it's up to the phone manufacturers to build cellphones around it.
What has its debut on Oct. 22, therefore, is a Google phone, the very first one: the T-Mobile G1 ($180 with two-year contract). Others will follow in the coming months.
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal ended up, like Pogue, praising the phone's potential, but also dwelled on the inevitable iPhone comparisons:
Overall, I found the G1's user interface inferior to the iPhone's. It lacks the iPhone's ability to flick between multiple pictures and Web pages, or to zoom in and zoom out of a photo or Web page by simply using two fingers to "pinch" or expand the image. It also doesn't automatically change the orientation of the screen from portrait to landscape simply by turning the phone.
Further, many common controls that are easily visible on the iPhone can be accessed on the G1 only by pressing a menu button or by using keyboard shortcuts you have to memorize. Examples are stopping the loading of a Web page or moving forward to the next Web page.
There's also no on-screen keyboard even for quick tasks, such as typing Web addresses, so you're constantly having to turn the phone and open the physical keyboard, which quickly becomes a pain.
Tech blog Gizmodo was even more harsh, saying that the phone and operating system were "not finished products":
We have high hopes for third-party coders to fill in gaps Google intentionally or unintentionally left in this OS. There's already a video player, and we're sure VLC will try and port some kind of version over. But your question is not whether the phone will be great down the line, it's whether or not it's good enough for you to buy it now.
The answer depends most on who you are. Despite all the UI quirks and bad design decisions, it's still better than other smartphone OSes out there. It's not perfect, but for people who like tinkering, its cons are outweighed by its pros such as Gmail and the Marketplace. Hopefully Android updates and more ports of Google apps will augment not just future phones but this one too. This isn't something you're going to give your mom for Christmas, but if you're an adventuresome gadget guy with some money to spend ($179) on a totally new, pretty exciting venture, then why not?
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