Thursday, October 23, 2008


So one of my co-workers came to work today with a brand new G1 - the T-Mobile Android phone by HTC. I was quite interested in how it would compare to the iPhone. I tried to take an honest, fair approach to reviewing the phone. Having used an iPhone now for 3 months, I am quite familiar with it and so that was the bar that I compared it to. For the most part the G1 did the same things that the iPhone does. In general, though, I didn't find it as intuitive as the iPhone. It also did not see like "cutting edge" technology. The phone felt bulky, was thicker than the iPhone, and resembled a small brick. Any time you want to type, you have to turn the phone sideways and slide the screen up to reveal the keyboard. The screen sliding open was not a very smooth operation. It "snapped" open rather harshly to the point that sometimes it felt like the screen would fly off of the rest of the phone. The scrolling works the same way as it does on an iPhone with the touch screen. It lacked the two-finger multi-touch functionality that the iPhone has. I believe that Apple has the pinch to zoom in/out patented, which is why I'm guessing that's why Android does not support that. It still wasn't that bad - there was a + and - button at the bottom of the maps screen that allowed you to zoom in and zoom out. When searching for Dunkin Donuts nearby, it found them, but rather than dropping pins in a very pleasing visual display like the iPhone, it displays a text list of them. You can click on one of them and then it takes you to that one on the map. With the use of left and right arrows, you can scroll through all of the locations, and the map pans from one to the next. In order to get a good visual view of where they were in reference to my location, I had to do a zoom out with the minus button. The GPS was able to quickly locate my location rather nicely.

There is something similar to the app store on the iPhone called the market. From what I understand, anyone can publish apps to the market - truly tapping into the open source community. This is a great feature. At the same time, though, what risks come of this? What's there to stop someone from publishing malicious code into what seems like an innocent app? An innocent looking pac-man could collect personal data and send it off to who knows where. Just because much of it is open source doesn't mean that someone who chooses to publish an app to the market has to make their code available for public scrutiny. As much as I love the open source market, one thing that I think is great about the iPhone app store is that every application goes through a code review with Apple before being published. Now, many people have problems with that, and the fact that Apple to some extent will restrict new apps that compete with theirs, but I've got no issues with it. Overall it makes for a very stable environment. Knowing that Apple is code reviewing all of the apps to ensure that there is no malicious code in there adds a sense of security. In case something sneaks by, Apple does have an internal kill switch that allows apple to kill an application that is running on the iPhone. Many gave Apple crap for this, but the other week it was revealed that Android has the same thing. Ha - suckers!

Now, down to the value of the G1. If the G1 was a ton cheaper than the iPhone, I might be able to overlook not having some of the eye candy on the iPhone. But, the G1 is by far a worse deal. The G1 is for $179. The ently level iPhone is $199 - $20 more. The G1 has only 1 GB of built-in memory. If you want more memory, you can purchase separately a SD card, which currently only goes up to 4 GB in size. The iPhone for $199 comes with 8 GB of internal memory. 8 times the amount for $20 more. After you bought a SD card, it would be about the same price as the iPhone. You can get a 8 GB microSD card on newegg right now for $30, so that would put the phone+memory at $210 - $10 more than the iPhone. The G1 monthly charge is $25, whereas the iPhone is $30 (on top of whatever voice plan you have). In my opinion, the iPhone wins - cheaper base price, more intuitive, sleeker form factor, more secure apps, and cheaper - and only $5 more per month. After using both, it is worth the extra $5/month.