30 SepAndroid - G1, iPhone FAQ |
All the hype came to its crescendo this week as T-Mobile, Google and HTC jointly released the T-Mobile G1, the first commercially available mobile device based on the open source Linux Google Android operating system.
The touch screen G1, known to some as the HTC Dream, bears some similarity to the Apple iPhone, which saw amazing uptake with the release of its 3G model. Even the original iPhone, released 15 months ago, still garners a great deal of hype.
And while it’s uncertain whether the T-Mobile G1 and Google Android will unseat the iPhone for smart phone supremacy, the G1 is better than the iPhone, though it might not be as pretty
At the G1’s official launch on Tuesday, the main focus was on Google Android’s openness and its work with the Open Handset Alliance. Along with unveiling the physical device itself, the Google and T-Mobile teams also launched the Android Market. Similar in concept to the Apple AppStore, Android Market enables third-party application developers to offer their apps to be used on the device.
The Android Market, simply put, is better than Apple’s AppStore.
Google’s hands-off approach means there will be no whining about what applications do and don’t get picked up. Essentially, a developer can offer his or her application on the market without fees, review or even Google’s stamp of approval. With Apple keeping a tight grip on the apps offered in its AppStore — anyone remember IAMRICH? — Android Market will be a breath of fresh air.
The G1 may earn a leg up on Steve Jobs’ baby because T-Mobile is a better carrier than AT&T. It might come as a surprise, considering T-Mobile currently doesn’t support 3G in every major metropolitan area, but the G1 will also support Wi-Fi and 2G networks until T-Mobile gets its high-speed 3G initiative fully up and running. Many potential iPhoners have been put off by the AT&T mandate, which is now in place until 2010, often complaining about the data plan pricing and unsatisfactory service.
While T-Mobile is bound to offer a few dead zones of its own, it has set reasonable pricing on its plans, offering a limited plan for $25 and an unlimited Web and messaging plan for $35. It’s estimated that over a two-year period a voice and data plan for the G1 could save consumers nearly $400 compared to similar service for an iPhone. Plus, the G1 comes in around $20 cheaper than the cheapest iPhone model with a two-year contract.
Where the iPhone is sleek and slender, the G1 comes with a little more girth and weight. But the extra fractions of an inch and added ounces are worth it for the physical full QWERTY keypad. Similar in style to T-Mobile’s now-iconic Sidekick line, the G1’s screen slides up to reveal a full keyboard, with enough short cuts to ease Web surfing and make messaging simpler — without relying just on a touch-screen keyboard to get the job done.
The G1 also offers multimedia messaging, copy and paste, voice dialing and a removable battery, which the iPhone notably lack.
And for those who buy devices for looks more than functionality, the G1 comes in three colors, while the iPhone hits just two: black and white. The G1 adds brown to the mix.
Both devices also offer a host of similar features and functions. Both have a music player, Bluetooth, GPS, GoogleMaps with Satellite View and Traffic and POP3 and IMAP email. The G1, however, relies on Amazon’s MP3 store and the iPhone on Apple iTunes for music. The G1 also wraps into GoogleMaps Street View and a compass mode that orients the screen as the user moves, features the iPhone is missing. No, the G1 currently doesn’t support Microsoft Exchange for email, which the iPhone does, but it does offer push Gmail and the device’s makers anticipate someone will create an Exchange application for it soon and offer it in the Android Market.
Oh, and the G1 has a 3.2 megapixel camera, a touch higher than the iPhone’s 2 megapixels.
Will these reasons be enough to propel the G1 past the iPhone? That remains to be seen. Research firm Strategy Analytics is predicting that the G1 could sell 400,000 units by year’s end, accounting for roughly 4 percent of the smart phone market. While analysts at Piper Jaffray have predicted that Apple will have sold 5 million iPhone 3Gs in the past quarter. Surely, Google and T-Mobile have an uphill battle, but its strong feature set and subtle differences could be the boom the smart phone market needed for Apple to find its true rival.