Ahead of the hotly anticipated T-Mobile G1 smartphone’s arrival in stores next week, early reviews show not everyone is convinced that the Android-powered handset is ready to take on the Apple iPhone or muscle onto the turf of Windows Mobile or the BlackBerry.
Yet among reviewers and industry watchers, there’s still little doubt that the G1 offers big potential for driving smartphone innovation.
One of the earliest reviews of the HTC-manufactured device, which was first introduced by Google and T-Mobile last month, came from the Wall Street Journal‘s Walter Mossberg, who called it a “worthy competitor” to the iPhone in his column this week. But Mossberg also saw several areas in need of improvement in its software and its hardware.
The New York Times‘s David Pogue described the handset’s Android platform as “polished enough to give Windows Mobile an inferiority complex the size of Australia.” Yet Pogue’s scorecard similarly illustrated that the G1 isn’t perfect. He gave it an A-minus for software, a B-minus for phone capabilities and a B-minus for network capabilities.
Avi Greengart, mobile device research director at Current Analysis, came to a similar conclusion on the G1 — calling it an iPhone “challenger” that “falls short in every area.”
The early reviews come as the mobile phone industry is seeking to come to grips with an influx of powerful, new devices. That’s driven in part by competition: wireless carriers are finding themselves relying on increasingly advanced smartphones to woo more subscribers and increase revenue from lucrative non-voice services, like Web access. T-Mobile is the exclusive G1 carrier and AT&T is currently the exclusive iPhone network in the U.S.
Among those new consumer-oriented devices is the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, which has rocketed in popularity since its debut a year ago and sparked a trend in consumer handsets toward touchscreens and easy access to third-party applications.
Not surprisingly, the iPhone also spawned a slew of competitors, among which the Google-backed Android platform is one of the most closely watched.
Hits and misses
And despite some initial criticism, the G1’s early reviewers still find a good deal about it to praise.
“This is a competitive product,” Greengart told InternetNews.com, noting G1’s “beautiful” touchscreen. The G1 features a 3.2-inch LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with 320 x 480 resolution. The iPhone has 3.5-inch widescreen, multi-touch display with 480 x 320 resolution.
Greengart also complimented the G1’s Web browsing capability — built off the same engine as the iPhone’s, he said — and its GPS application that provides real-time street views for navigation.
On the downside, Greengart wasn’t impressed with the G1’s girth, describing it as “heavier and bulkier” than the iPhone. The G1 weighs in at 5.6 ounces, and is 4.6 inches tall, 2.16 inches wide and.62 inches in thickness. Apple’s iPhone weighs 4.7 ounces and measures 4.5 inches in length, 2.4 inches wide and .48 inches thick.
Greengart also noted that the G1 offers no easy way to sync with non-Google mail applications, such as Microsoft Outlook, which enterprise users may find frustrating. The latest edition of the iPhone connects to Microsoft Exchange for access to e-mail, calendar and contacts.
“What Android does offer with the G1 is [smartphone development] potential, and some of these [downsides] will hopefully change with development going forward,” Greengart said.