I didn’t know that the Google Phone, or the HTC G1 Android, reached Philippine shores until I read Jayvee’s entry. By sheer coincidence, I caught up with Art Samaniego, Technews Section Editor of the Manila Bulletin at the media launch of the Dinos Alive World Tour today. I found out that he is the first HTC G1 user in the Philippines and when I asked if I could play with the HTC G1, he gladly lent it to me for a few minutes.
Like most people who were able to try the HTC G1 for themselves, the first thing I noticed was how bulky the phone was. In terms of aesthetics, it’s not much to look at, especially if you consider how sleek, slim designs are the standard for smart phones today.
And if you compare it side-by-side with my iPhone, the HTC G1 looks odd and unwieldy.
The G1’s screen slides out to reveal a QWERTY keypad, which I think is its weakest point in terms of design. It doesn’t slide as smoothly as I’d like; in fact the phone nearly slipped out of my hands the first time I tried it.
The QWERTY keyboard is not comfortable due to the right side which hampers hand movements. Unfortunately, using the QWERTY keypad is the only way you can send messages and put in data onto the phone.
You need to have a Gmail account before you can use the HTC G1 and if you use the internet and Gmail quite often, then this phone might be for you. You can access the Internet using WiFi but you have to have your service provider activate it on your SIM card before it can work on the phone.
The Webkit web browser is the same as the iPhone. The browser loads fast but unlike the iPhone, you can’t pinch or stretch it with the fingers to change the browser size.
There is also a trackball you can use to navigate, which is a rather redundant feature. The G1 already has a touchscreen similar to the iPhone, and I don’t see why you can’t navigate using that.
To unlock the keypad, you have to draw a pattern on the touchscreen.
The G1 allows you to use Google maps and watch YouTube videos. You can also receive instant notifications whenever you get new e-mail and use Google search on the dedicated screen.
I keep getting the feeling that the HTC G1 tries too hard to be like the iPhone. It even has its own equivalent of the Apple iTunes/App Store called the Android Apps store. There are over 200 free applications available for download and they don’t have as many restrictions to application approvals, which is good news for developers who want a bit more freedom. The problem there is that the App Store might end up being saturated with useless apps.
You’ll need USB earphones to listen to audio. I’m not sure if the G1 comes with its own earphones; if it doesn’t, it’d be a major hassle to have to buy a new pair instead of using regular earphones.
Other features include a 528 MHz processor, a 3.1 megapixel camera, built-in GPS navigation with a GPS and map software, and Bluetooth.
Maybe it’s because I’m more used to how the iPhone works, and maybe the G1 just doesn’t suit my needs, but I wasn’t too impressed by the phone. The touch screen was very responsive and I like how you can add shortcuts to applications on the home screen, but there’s no way for you to zoom in on the text (unlike in the iPhone). The G1’s overall design, especially the slider mechanism, was too clunky and awkward for my tastes. The most impressive thing about this phone is that it is the first implementation of Google’s Android OS, a Linux-based mobile phone operating system that provides functionality and speed compared to other phones using different OS.
The HTC G1 costs approximately Php 30,000 in Hong Kong and it will probably have a higher retail price once it’s available here. But I wouldn’t pay that much for this phone.
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