- 23 Sep 08, 19:03 GMT
I don't know about you, but getting to grips with a new mobile phone takes me some time. I have to load up thousands of contacts, set up my e-mail, surf a few websites and even make the odd call before I know what I think. So half an hour spent playing with the T-Mobile/HTC/Google G1 - the first Android handset - this afternoon wasn't really enough to reach any firm conclusions. But here are my first impressions.
The G1 looks much like HTC's recent efforts for the Windows Mobile platform. The slide-out keyboard gives a bit of added bulk, but it's a reasonably compact device. The touch screen seems to respond quite rapidly, and there's a jog-wheel too for faster navigation.
But what quickly becomes clear is that you'll be sliding out that keyboard much of the time. If, as I suggested earlier, there is now a schism between the touchers and the typists then this is a phone for the typing tribe. Even sending a text means using that keyboard rather than the screen. There are also several buttons to press to take you to a home screen, to bring up a range of applications, or to make a phone call.
The Android platform seems to be operating pretty smoothly, with Google applications - Mail, Talk, Maps - prominent on that home screen and launching quickly. The web surfing, which is such an attractive feature of the iPhone, is pretty intuitive on the G1 too, although you have to zoom in and out by tapping on the screen, rather than pinching and dragging on a multi-touch screen.
Other features include a barcode scanner, which captures an image of the code on the product, then searches the web for price comparisons, and an Amazon mp3 store which will apparently be available only in the US.
Most important, to my mind, is the Android Market, which allows users to install a whole range of applications from independent developers. I didn't get a chance to try any of the apps, but presumably they will be similar in range to those in Apple's App Store, allowing users to customise their phones with games, social networks and the like.
I didn't have a chance to try the 3 mp camera - but with no video capture it looks as though this phone isn't really aimed at keen snappers or instant movie-makers.
As you can see, I've made frequent reference to the iPhone and the G1 will inevitably be compared with Apple's product. For those who don't like the idea of a phone totally dependent on a touchscreen, the first Android will prove an attractive alternative.
What it lacks is the wow factor. I can't imagine there will be an awful lot of "oohs" and "aahs" when the G1 hits the shelves in November. But Google's first entry into the mobile phone world is a lot more impressive than many had predicted, and should hasten the development of the mobile internet.
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