>Nicole got her G1 yesterday – the first and foremost “Google phone”
It runs android – the open source phone OS developed by Google.

At first glance it’s about the side of an iPhone (and that’s the exact demographic this phone is going for) though no where near as sleek. The screen swings out from the base and pops into place when going into landscape mode.

The home screen has a clock widget with 4 basic icons at the bottom. It appears you can fill up the whole screen with up to 16 icons, if you didn’t have the clock there. You’re not limited however, because if you slide your finger to the left or the right you have an additional screen on either side for other program icons or widgets. If your application icons aren’t on the desktop, they’re in the application window. Touch and slide the application tab at the bottom upwards and you’ll see all your program icons but I didn’t see a way to organize them such as folders or sorting. I’m awaiting more widgets, such as weather or RSS, but with Android being open source – it’s only a matter of time (and it’ll probably be free).

Making a call is pretty quick and the contact list imports your Gmail address book as soon as you add your info. It’s a very detailed set of information and it’s easy to add to it when you have a new number – just hold your finger on the number and you can choose new or add to existing.

The camera supports embedded GPS information, for those who like to add to Google earth.
There’s no brightness/contrast that I could find, nor a zoom feature but it’s pretty high quality with good autofocus. I’d also like to see video capture, but that’s probably on the way.

Trackball is great – I’d compare it to an IBM laptop intellistick, similar texture but I still can’t say for sure whether it’s actually rolling or inferring based on the direction I’m moving my finger over the textured surface. In either case it’s really sensitive and great for more accurate movements.

The google maps is pretty good, and uses mylocation over gps by default, so you have a large circle that is your general proximity rather then a precise dot. You can see streetview, which brings attention to one of the coolest features: Compass mode. If you’re in streetview and turn on Compass mode whichever direction you turn (even up and down), the phone will indicate the corresponding street view. It’s fancy and impressive, but I couldn’t see a need for this at first until I realized this was “compass mode” – ie: which way is NESW. The image is good just for verification but not much else other then cool factor and I can’t see it working without streetview at your location.

Setting up email was pretty quick, and we were able to get to both web based email as well as import an IMAP (also supports pop3) account without issue. It inferred the servers from the email address, just provided the password and boom – all set.

The data transfer was acceptible, but nowhere near “high speed” as it took over 45 minutes for a 20mb video file. Speaking of which: there’s no standard video player. You can view YouTube but individual movies don’t play.

When checking voicemail, it was neceesary to pull up the phone keys, press the button to delete, and then put the phone keys away, otherwise I’d accidently hit the keys when I put the phone back up to my ear. So it can be cumbersome to go through several voicemails at a time.

The touch on the screen isn’t overly accurate, and dragging can get tricky. You also can’t drag an icon from one section of the screen to another. For example: move an icon from the middle screen to the right or left when your main screen gets full. To do so you have to drag the icon to the apps tab to remove it, and re-add it to the screen where you want it. It’s not that big of a deal, easy enough to do, but a seemingly needless limitation.

Depending on the application it’s difficult to tell when you should hold your finger down, slide it, or tap. I had to try it several different ways for most applications to figure out which was necessary for the particular application. I think this is mostly standardization at this point, and will probably get better as developers get to use the device more.

The battery life doesn’t appear to be stellar. I charged it to full in about 3 – 3.5 hours, then used it to download and perform nonstop data transmission for about 3 hours before it was down to 50% battery. I charged it overnight so we’ll see how it does after a normal day in standby.

I’m a bit worried about the application store. Granted – each application tells you what permissions it requires from your phone before you download – but that alone can scare you. I’m worried about the rogue program that does what it promises but is actually phoning home and sending your info while you’re using it. A lot of the applications require “full internet access”, “gps positioning”, and some even “access to contact information” such as the Weather Channel’s application. That’s pretty scary and I’m concerned what they might do with it – some people never read the fine print for free programs.

All in all it’s a pretty powerful phone with a lot of potential. It’s fairly slim, fairly light and the keyboard is handy and with the trackball you can do everything but type when the keyboard is away. It didn’t do much without a data plan, but it does work. It can use wifi, and even with no data* or wifi I was still able to pull down GMail but no web or Pop3/IMAP. There’s also no proxy settings like in Windows Mobile so looks like you’ll need that $30 data plan.

*-I have Voicestream 2.99 unlimited wap internet on my account

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