Google launches "open" G1 phone. Yawn

Supposed iPhone rival is underwhelming.

Published September 24, 2008 9:45AM (EDT)

So while I haven't actually touched the new HTC T-Mobile Google G1 phone, after reading up on it online from afar, it seems that my friend Priya Ganapati over at sums up my gut reaction: "T-Mobile's G1 Android Phone: Neither Open nor Exciting."

On first glance, the G1 looks like a beefed-up Sidekick, or maybe a mediocre attempt at mimicking the iPhone. It's about the same size as the iPhone (Ganapati says it's "slightly bigger and a tad heavier"), probably because of the phone's slide-out keyboard instead of the iPhone's entirely screen-based touch keyboard.

But the worst part is that while the G1 -- and its Android software -- is touted as being an open alternative to the Apple iPhone ecosystem, as Google is making its OS available to any handset maker who wants to use it, at least this first generation is just about as closed as the iPhone is.

In the U.S., the phone is SIM-locked to T-Mobile, at least officially, anyway. It's likely that efforts are under way to unlock it, à la iPhone. It doesn't have a standard headphone jack, which is totally absurd. Even Apple ditched its weird recessed design in favor of the industry standard. On the G1 you have to buy some extra adapter, so you can use whatever headphones you might want. And the worst part, as Ganapati points out, is that a true open phone would allow for VoIP service using the fast 3G or WiFi connections. For now that just remains a pipe dream.

Plus, it's well known that T-Mobile's 3G network is a joke. Sadly, it makes AT&T's oft-ridiculed 3G network look like the industry standard. Seriously, what's the point of having 3G if you can barely use it?

If that weren't enough, this Engadget video shows that the G1 doesn't have many features that are standard on the iPhone, like multitouch, movie playback, basic syncing software and, worse, browser page rendering.

Google, you can do better than this.

By Cyrus Farivar

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