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9/23/2008
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How Does T-Mobile's Google G1 Stack Up?

We review several features available in the first Android-powered handset that could make it a hit in the enterprise and viable alternative to the BlackBerry or iPhone.

One of the most exciting features of G1 is its tight integration with Google Maps. Many smartphones have a GPS and use the search giant's maps for directions, navigation, and even Street View.

But the G1 is the only handset that uses Compass Mode, which can offer mobile users a 360-degree panoramic street-level view by moving the phone. While this may be a bit of a cool gimmick at the moment, it has the potential to have numerous location-based applications.

Like the iPhone 3G, the G1 can only use Bluetooth for headset pairing. Users wanting stereo Bluetooth may want to look at Samsung's Omnia, the HTC Touch Diamond, or others.

The G1 also packs a 3.2-megapixel camera, which is better than the iPhone's, but is lacking compared with devices like the Nokia N96, and the Samsung Innov8.

Additionally, the G1 will not be capable of tethered data, and it will come with a MicroSD slot capable of up to 8 GB of storage.

Price:

The G1 will go on sale Oct. 22 for $179 with a two-year contract, and required data plans will cost $25 for unlimited Web and some messaging, or $35 for unlimited data and messaging. The hardware price undercuts Apple's by $20, but monthly voice and data charges are in the same ballpark (although T-Mobile's unlimited messaging is less expensive).

Overall, the G1 appears to be a highly capable smartphone that doesn't blow away the competition in terms of hardware or features. But the Android platform is all about the software, and only time will tell if Google and developers can make this OS better and more compelling than the incumbents.

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