Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 12:00 pm
T-Mobile's G1 Android phone to cost $179, available Oct 22T-Mobile on Tuesday held a press conference to introduce the first mobile handset based on Google's Android platform -- the G1, which will retail for $179 when it goes on sale at select T-Mobile outlets and third party retailers on October 22nd.
The G1 (official website) includes a built-in compass, a 3-megapixel camera, a touchscreen that slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard, and a trackball for more precise, one-handed navigation. The device will come SIM-locked to T-Mobile, with built-in support for the carrier's 3G and EDGE network as well as Wi-Fi.
Among the G1's software features is one-click contextual search that allows users to search the entire device with the touch of a finger, and version of Google's new Web browser called Chrome Lite that presents web pages in their natural form and lets users zoom in to expand any section by simply tapping on the screen.
Google Maps Street View
As is the case with Apple's iPhone, G1 users can instantly view maps and satellite imagery through an embedded version of Google Maps, as well as find local business and get driving directions.
The G1 also includes Google Maps Street View, which isn't available on the iPhone, allowing customers to explore cities at street-level virtually while on the go. The Google Maps feature syncs with the handset's built-in compass to allow users to view locations and navigate 360 degrees by simply moving the phone with their hand.
A rich HTML e-mail client syncs e-mail, calendar and contacts from Gmail as well as most other POP3 or IMAP e-mail services. The handset also supports Instant Messaging through Google Talk, as well as AOL, Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger.
A promotional video for the HTC-developed T-Mobile G1.
Photo sharing and music downloads
Each G1 includes built-in support for YouTube and 3-megapixel camera that lets users attach and share pictures over email and MMS or download music from their favorite web sites. iTunes is not supported, however, as only DRM-free content purchased from the Apple download service will work with the handset.
Instead, T-Mobile has partnered with Apple rival Amazon.com, pre-loading each G1 with a new application developed by the online retailer that gives customers easy access to the Amazon MP3 digital music download store. Using the application, users can search, sample, purchase and download music from Amazon MP3 directly to their device. Music downloads are only supported over Wi-Fi, however, but searching and sampling can be done anywhere a user has a cellular connection.
The G1 lacks a traditional headphone jack and instead requires a USB adapter for headphone connectivity.
Being the first Android phone, the G1 is also the first phone to offer access to Android Market, a rival to Apple's App Store that hosts applications and mash ups of existing and new services from third-party developers.
When the G1 launches next month, "dozens of unique, first-of-a-kind Android applications will be available for download on Android Market," T-Mobile said, including:
- ShopSavvy: an application designed to help people do comparative shopping. Users scan the UPC code of a product with their phones camera while they are shopping, and can instantly compare prices from online merchants and nearby local stores.
- Ecorio: a new application developed to help people keep track of their daily travels and view what their carbon footprint looks like. With access to tips and tricks, Ecorio allows users to record the steps they take throughout their day to help offset their impact on the environment.
- BreadCrumbz: a new application that enables people to create a step-by-step visual map using photos. Users can create their own routes, share them with friends or with the world.
A guided tour of the G1 (part 2).
Some of the G1's other features, compiled from coverage of the launch event earlier Tuesday, include a built-in accelerometer, support for viewing Office and PDF documents, the first mobile implementation of 'online presence' through GoogleTalk, and drag-and-drop photo support.
Pricing and availability
T-Mobile customers in the U.S. have the opportunity to pre-order the T-Mobile G1 starting today at www.T-MobileG1.com. The device will be available at select T-Mobile retail stores in 22 US markets beginning Oct. 22, for a price of $179 with a two-year voice and data agreement. A $35 per month data package will offer unlimited internet and text messaging, while a $25 package will include unlimited data but limited text messaging.
However, the fine print on T-Mobile's official G1 website says: "If your total data usage in any billing cycle is more than 1GB, your data throughput for the remainder of that cycle may be reduced to 50 kbps or less."
The G1 will also be available in the United Kingdom beginning in November, and across Europe -- Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands -- in the first quarter of 2009.
A on-demand version the G1 launch event will be available from this link some time today.
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