T-Mobile, Google unleash $179 Android phone

Gadget blogs have leaked as much as they could about the first Google Android cell phone, and at a press conference in New York this morning, T-Mobile officially unveiled the device at last. The G1 is manufactured by Taiwan’s HTC, and it features a large touch screen, a handful of buttons below it, and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard on the side. Just like the iPhone, the G1 uses an accelerometer to switch between portrait and landscape display modes automatically.

The device itself may not look as sexy as the iPhone, but the software is where T-Mobile and Google will likely focus the brunt of their joint marketing effort. Google’s Android platform not only includes an open-source, Linux-based operating system and a neat user interface, but also a full-featured suite of apps. You’ll find a WebKit-based browser, Google Talk, Gmail, Amazon MP3 software that lets you buy songs with the device, a built-in version of Google Maps with a “compass” feature that follows your movements in the Street View mode, and a music player that lets you search for related videos on YouTube.

If the built-in apps don’t satisfy you, you’ll be able to hop into the Android Market and download third-party software. Google points out that developers don’t have to jump through hoops to get started writing Android apps (indeed, the SDK is freely downloadable here), so G1 owners should eventually have access to a healthy software library. Google co-founder Sergey Brin even mentioned writing an app that, if you throw the G1 in the air, calculates how long it spends flying before falling back in your hand (or the floor). A T-Mobile executive also discussed an app that lets you scan product bar codes and look up prices online.

T-Mobile says you’ll be able to pre-order the G1 starting today for $179—about 20 bucks cheaper than the iPhone. The device will officially become available on October 22 in the U.S., some time in November in the United Kingdom, and in the first quarter of 2009 for the rest of Europe. The G1 may not replace Blackberry and iPhone devices in corporate users’ pockets just yet, though: there’s currently no Microsoft Exchange e-mail support, and T-Mobile suggested it may leave that up to third-party developers.

As always, you can grab the Android SDK and run the included emulator if you’d like to experiment with the Android user interface. Judging by what T-Mobile showed during the launch event, the G1’s UI is exactly the same.

Comments closed
    • provoko
    • 11 years ago

    I think it looks pretty good. The buttons and scroller/joystick plus keyboard and touchscreen is a great combination vs the iphone’s virtual keyboard.

    Besides, no one needs these phones… haha. Both the iphone and this one with their plans is suuuuuuuch a waste of money. Just get a laptop or mini laptop if you want to do super stuff on the go.

    Please people, resist the message that new products make you cool or that a smart phone improves your life drastically. Use your brain, that’s smart.

      • A_Pickle
      • 11 years ago

      Smartphones rule. Ordinary cellphones really are shoddy products, and smartphones aren’t. I like being able to browse the web on a visibly large screen, on-the-go. I like being able to chat on multiple protocols with people, on-the-go. I like being able to use mapping software, to determine my route to a destination, on-the-go. I like having my MP3 player AND cellphone integrated into a single device, on-the-go. I like having a graphing calculator application on my phone, which has color graphs at an appreciable resolution. I like having Worms World Party and Age of Empires on-the-go. I like being able to sync my contacts to my computer. I like being able to take notes in class, and, when the teacher makes an announcement of an assignment, being able to add a task and have it _[

        • provoko
        • 11 years ago

        Well, that’s a lot of functionality. No one needs that much in a tiny device. The efficiency of those functions go down the drain as soon as you start to type, even with a mini keyboard, typing with two thumbs is obviously slower than typing with 10 fingers and a full keyboard.

        GPS is awesome, but damn, people really need to learn how to use a map or their going to die without their phones.

          • A_Pickle
          • 11 years ago

          g[

            • provoko
            • 11 years ago

            I wouldn’t say it’s a replacement of maps. A map is around $5 and covers a lot of area. A cellphone that does it is about what.. $100 a month and shows a tiny area that you have to constantly zoom in and out until you’ve figured out what streets or highways you have to go on.

            I guess gold is a replacement for teeth aswell. Haha.

            None of the functions are good enough. You should be more critical too especially if you’re spending so much money.

            • axeman
            • 11 years ago

            I agree with you. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, and fails miserably a lot of the time. But that is a conversation far larger in scope than just smart phones. That said, it looks like to me the iPhone is actually going to improve the industry by making the phone designers and developers work a lot harder to make these devices easier to use. I don’t see the iPhone doing anything you couldn’t do before.. you can just do it now without wanting to smash the phone to bits. And yes, I’ve smashed a couple of cell phones to bits.

            But I digress; the money people pay for phones, well, I think proves that people are pretty stupid. I can think of a lot more enjoyable things to spend my money on than a blasted phone. Do the world a favor, and the next time a friend or co-worker starts raving about some stupid phone, remind them IT’S JUST A PHONE. Preferably, yell this in their ear. After all, the point of a cell phone is to yell into it so as to make the person on the other end cringe.

    • moog
    • 11 years ago

    An ugly phone. Unfortunately that’s what you get when you only make a software platform.

    Open-source is not a seller, it’s Cyril spouting fanboy bias. It’s rather useless if you’re not a dev, it’s also useless even if you are (why would you want to see source code unless you think you can write a better OS? When you make an app, you care about the programming interface and all platforms have excellent APIs, even the OS on the iPhone).

    When the head of a company points out calculating the time a phone is airborn is a cool app, you have to wonder if it’s a business or a charity for PhDs.

    All things considered, Windows Mobile as a platform is much more useful. iPhone and BlackBerry are complete and open platforms, and most important, smart looking devices.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 11 years ago

    Version 1.0 product here folks, move along.

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    Oh and I’ll be waiting in line for a gen2 Android when Verizon gets it. In the meantime my dinky little LG VX8550 does everything I want.

    • A_Pickle
    • 11 years ago

    g[

      • indeego
      • 11 years ago

      /[<"Most consumers, especially people looking for cool cellphones, are extraordinarily sheepish in this arena -- IE, the phone that <insert service provider here> gives them is the phone they get."<]/ Hence why tends of thousands of people waited in line for the iphone twiceg{

        • muyuubyou
        • 11 years ago

        I fail to see your point… the iPhone is a perfect example. Underpowered, lacking in features, gimmicky and very expensive. A status symbol for most. You pay for the multitouch and the uniqueness through the nose.

        Welcome, Android.

          • A_Pickle
          • 11 years ago

          More or less, I agree. The iPhone is still a very capable smartphone, and… it’s very, very nice. There is something to be said about the silky smoothness of the UI, and the nice, fast, desktop-like browsing experience. Also, those things have to have the absolute MOST responsive touchscreen that I have EVER seen on a device — I’d LOVE for something like that on an HTC smartphone (‘course, the Touch Pro/HD/Diamond all have capacitive touchscreens…).

          Personally… the iPhone was a revolutionary device. The SDK is amazing, and it lit a fire the size of the sun under the collective rumps of all cellphone service providers and, more importantly, cellphone manufacturers. But that happened in June 2007, and this is September 2008 — the fire has been lit, and it has petered out. Non-Apple hardware makers have risen to the challenge in the same way that non-Apple companies have always risen to Apple’s brief flirtations with revolution: By offering vast swaths of arguably superior hardware _[

          • adisor19
          • 11 years ago

          LOL @ underpowered

          You keep sayng that to yourself, I’m sure it makes u feel better.

          Adi

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            For sure. If there’s anything the iPhone undeniably outclasses every other smartphone on the market by, it’s by horsepower. It’s got a good CPU and a good GPU.

        • A_Pickle
        • 11 years ago

        The iPhone was an exception to the rule — it was THAT revolutionary. It isn’t anymore, but people are STILL flocking to it, despite the fact that there are TONS of very, very, competent, affordable, feature-packed, non-Apple, non-AT&T smartphones out there now.

        The iPhone motivated this. Yeah, great, bully for Apple. Now the HTC Touch Diamond, Touch Pro, and Touch HD are about to hit the fan, and each of those has at LEAST a 640×480 screen on it. They also copy-and-paste, have TouchFLO 3D, built-in GPS, built-in FM radio, have capacitive touchscreens (with multi-touch support), the ability to add extra storage (SDHC, I might add) with desktop synchronization without having to install iTunes. Whew, that was a mouthful.

        I’d say that non-iPhone smartphones have come a helluva long way in the past year or so, arguably /[

    • rubik
    • 11 years ago

    Was very much looking forward to upgrading to this phone (am already a T-Mobile customer) but I will definitely pass now because of the following (WTF-EPIC-FAIL) flaws:

    * $25-with-400-message and $35-with-unlimited-messages data plans both capped at 1GB/mo. as per fine print. This on a 3G phone in 2008 is an abomination.
    * Looks like absolute plastic toy junk. I cannot get over that aspect. I thought I could but can’t.
    * Entire phone is tied to one gmail account. Want to use another (for not just email — can use IMAP for that)? Factory reset the phone!
    * Screen panel doesn’t support multitouch.
    * No tethering (yet, at least… might be “hacked” into it eventually but the data plan cap kills it mostly anyway.

    I’m sure we’ll find out more quirks as we get reports from more people playing with the G1 phones but for now, the “WTF” list is growing every hour.

    PS. Did I mention just how fugly this thing still appears to be? We’ve all seen the leaked photos before and whatnot but deep down inside we were hoping we saw an early prototype model.. but nope… we were seeing this circa 1990-looking phone all along. *sigh*

    • Zymergy
    • 11 years ago

    Why Why Why only for T-Mobile.
    Come on! Let’s have an UNLOCKED version ready to ‘utilize’ the SIM from my crappy AT&T Windows Mobile phone!

    • adisor19
    • 11 years ago

    Looks pretty neat for a first gen Android phone. Let’s give it a few months in order for the main bugs to be squashed and then maybe we could see a lil’ comparison/review of it and the iPhone ? *hint* *hint* 😀

    Adi

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    The story about the cooler that Nehalem will use has more comments than the new Android phone. 😆

    • Shinare
    • 11 years ago

    Wow, what happened to the bottom part of this phone, looks like a toy.

    • asdsa
    • 11 years ago

    Google, stop doing browsers and phones. That market slot is already filled with good enough vendors. Just concentrate on search engines and related stuff, ok? Good boy.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 11 years ago

      Good enough vendors? The more the merrier, in my book.

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      do you remember how msn, yahoo and altavista had the search engine market cornered in the early oughts? why, less than 10 years ago, google wasn’t even a force in the search engine world.

      if they listed to that kind of advice then, where would they be now?

      • A_Pickle
      • 11 years ago

      g[

      • willyolio
      • 11 years ago

      thank goodness you’re not running the company. maybe they should never have made a search engine. there were dozens of “good enough” search engines back in the day, too.

      • cygnus1
      • 11 years ago

      Dude, you just linked to a WinMo phone.

        • emi25
        • 11 years ago

        mmm, I know that, I was talking about the design. They can do better.

          • MattMojo
          • 11 years ago

          I so want that phone. I love me some WM and that phone looks absolutely great!

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            That or the Touch Pro. One of those two would be great.

            • no51
            • 11 years ago

            I’ll be holding my money till when the Xperia X1 comes out. I’ll be getting whichever is better for me, either the Touch Pro or Xperia X1. Nothing like competition.

            • A_Pickle
            • 11 years ago

            Yeah… the Xperia X1 is pretty sweet looking, but I KNOW the Touch Pro is coming out on Sprint, which is my carrier. Been with them for awhile… and they’ve treated me well.

            That said, they’ve been doing a good job getting phones these days. Maybe the Xperia will see the light of day at Sprint…

            • MattMojo
            • 11 years ago

            Agreed. The X1, the new Samsung Omnia (or something like that) or the touch (pro & HD) all look like great devices.

            I did get my hands on a Touch Diamond back at TechED 2008 and it was very nice, but I think I will wait for the large screen HD.

    • leor
    • 11 years ago

    storage?

      • blastdoor
      • 11 years ago

      I read that it’s a measly 1 GB for the quoted price, and that you can only upgrade to 8GB. But I read that at macrumors.com, so I don’t know if it’s accurate.

      I think this will enjoy the same level of success as desktop linux.

        • BiffStroganoffsky
        • 11 years ago

        It comes with a 1Gig MicroSD since built-in storage is nearly nil. But, that gives you expandability options via the mSD card of your choice.

    • Corrado
    • 11 years ago

    I’m not seeing what Android offers that is new, other than its ‘open’. WinMo is open too and you can write whatever you want for it. Now, I’m not saying Android is bad, it may be a great mobile OS… but I’m not seeing why theres so much hype for it. The iPhone at least had things that, at the time, no other phone had with multi-touch. Android seems to be saying ‘We do what all other mobile OS’s do… except we’re open! That makes it better!’

    WinMo 6.0 and 6.1 do what they’re suppsed to do in regards to Exchange sync over the air, and tethering, so I’m not seeing what Android is going to do better, except for the fact its NOT MS so theres always that crowd that will start humping it.

    That said, I’ll reiterate, I don’t think Android is bad, I just don’t see why its such a big deal.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    I’d say give it 6 months and see where it is.

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    It looks good enough to me.

    I’d buy it if the Tmobile plan was acceptable.

    • clhensle
    • 11 years ago

    Do not want, the htc looked nice, but this thing looks terrible.

      • Spurenleser
      • 11 years ago

      Yeah it looks like the lower part with the buttons wasn’t included in the original design plans and they just added it afterwards. The rest of the phone looks nice though.

      • A_Pickle
      • 11 years ago

      I like the spartan, “I-am-a-device” sort of look to it. Fits Google’s software/webapps perfectly. 😀

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