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7/27/2010
10:11 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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T-Mobile Axes HTC G1, The First Android Phone

A quick scan of T-Mobile's Web site shows that the HTC G1 is no longer available. The G1 was the first Android handset to hit the market, and started the Android revolution.

According to T-Mobile USA, Amazon.com, Wirefly.com, and LetsTalk.com, the HTC G1 can't be purchased brand new any longer. Sure, there are probably some unopened units sitting in a box somewhere, but the G1's time has officially come. Let us properly mourn the passing of the world's first Android handset.

I remember when Google, T-Mobile and HTC debuted the G1. It was September 2008 at a splashy event in New York City, and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page arrived on RollerBlades to join the press conference. Andy Rubin, Android's chief architect, did much of the talking, as did T-Mobile CTO Cole Brodman. They were clearly excited about their new mobile platform. Brin explained how easy Android was to develop for, and said that the first Android application he wrote used the accelerometer to time how long an Android handset was in the air when tossed.

Here's what I thought about the G1 when it was first announced:

Five Things To Like About the G1

1. Capacitive touch screen: The G1 has a capacitive touch screen just as the iPhone does. This means it is very responsive when you touch it. It also has haptic feedback, to let you know you've performed certain actions.

2. Easy-to-Use Interface: The user interface was intuitive at first blush, and didn't leave you wondering, "Why did they do that?" The layout was easy to understand, and simply made sense.

3. Great Google services integration: Seriously, it couldn't be any more tightly knit together. Gmail, Google Map with Street View, Google Search, YouTube, and others are built into the UI and work great.

4. Having a keyboard: I like my iPhone, but typing on it can be a serious pain. The G1 has a real, physical keyboard for typing out e-mails, instant messages, and test messages.

5. Upgradability: The Android UI is open source, and can be upgraded and added to over time. Google, T-Mobile, and HTC pretty much promised as much.

Five Things to Dislike About the G1

1. The hardware: Sorry, HTC, but the G1 feels cheap. I understand that what we saw today were preproduction units, but the phones felt thrown together. The plastics weren't high quality and the trackball didn't work all the time.

2. The camera: The G1 may have a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus, but it doesn't have a flash, nor a vanity mirror. It also is a bit slow, and the images I took with it were not of the highest caliber.

3. The keyboard: QWERTY keyboards on smartphones are a funny thing. Some are great, and some stink. The G1's keyboard falls in the middle. The buttons are small, flat, and don't have a lot of travel and feedback to let you know that you've pressed them. The keyboard will take some getting used to for most people.

4. No headphone jack: This is something HTC needs to deal with on more phones than just the G1. The G1 does not have a 2.5-mm or 3.5-mm headset jack. That means you have to use a USB adapter if you want listen to music. I have to ask, why bother including a media player at all if you're going to make it a hassle to use headphones. What's worse, the G1 doesn't support stereo Bluetooth (yet), so the adapter is your only choice. Get with the program, HTC, and figure out how to put 3.5-mm headset jacks onto your devices.

5. No PC syncing: I get it. Google believes in the cloud, and nowhere is that more evident than with the G1. There is no desktop syncing client available for the G1. That means if you want to sync your contacts, calendars, etc., you have to do it all through the Internet. While this functionality is a large part of the G1's premise, there are those who are going to want to have more control and sync directly from their computer.

Has the G1 -- and Android -- lived up to the promise and disappointment I outlined back in 2008?

Android scores big points for its growth in the last 22 months. The user interface is just as easy to figure out as it always has been, and many of Google's partners (HTC, in particular) have customized it in fantastic ways. Though some people may dislike it, HTC's Sense user interface overlay makes each Android handset highly personal.

The number of new features that Google has added to the platform are innumerable. The most important are support for multiple Exchange accounts and security protocols, multitouch, free Google Maps navigation.

Android devices remain to be upgradeable, though handset makers and carriers have been slow to offer those updates. Case in point, only Nexus One users have access to Android 2.2. Froyo right now. Many of the devices launched in the last eight weeks have promised to include Android 2.2 at some point, but no one has come through with a firm date yet.

All the complaints I voiced about the G1 hardware are still valid for that device, but have of course been negated by the myriad number of Android handsets that surpass the G1 with respect to the hardware.

Android has come a long way, thanks to the path cleared by the HTC G1. The G1 may not have been the best smartphone ever made, but it was a pioneering handset that started the Android Revolution. It was the first soldier in the Android Army, and fought a valiant fight against a wide range of competitors.

So long, G1. May you rest in peace.

[Via Android Guys]

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