Review of G1 phone (Google Android based platform)

The review of the phone should be divided into two components – the Android Platform and HTC phone.

Android
Never before has any platform drawn so much attention as Android and the new platform is sure to delight the smart phone users. The platform is optimized for the touch screen and has a user friendly user interface. The platform makes the web-based communication applications (email, chat, You Tube) mainstream though Orkut is a notable omission. Google’s mobile strategy is clear – Popularize its online PC properties like search, email, maps on the mobile by providing the same experience across the two platforms. Google wants its user base on PC to use its properties while they are online using the mobile. It also wants to attract new users by riding on its brand equity and its strong position in web based communication applications. The Google id gives automatic access to email, chat and Youtube and there is no separate log-in required at the time of usage.

The response of the system is fast and one never has to wait for the mobile phone to transit from one screen to another. It is not clear if the response is fast due to the processor or the Android platform.

The best part of the new platform is its browser. The browser gives a near PC experience to web browsing. It has the capability of opening multiple browser screens and it is easy to switch between the screens with relative ease. It is possible to zoom in/out the screen to suit the individual preference in terms of the font size. The text adjusts to the screen size at any zoom level. Touch and the track ball enhance the navigation experience (Kudos to the track ball. It mirrors the mouse experience).

The phone lacks the features for business users e.g. there is no Microsoft Exchange Server, no synchronization with Outlook e-mail, Calendar, Contacts, etc.

SMS is a pleasant experience. It provides conversation threads in the same screen. Composing SMS is like composing a mail and it provides the facility of attaching a file to the SMS (converts into MMS). This is similar to Symbian but it allows the users to create slides to be attached to the SMS. However, it is not possible to forward the SMS which is not only surprising but also shocking. Also, there is no facility of delivery notifications. There is no on-screen input and hence the keypad needs to be used for typing any message

Though the platform provides a clear benefit to the web users, it is on a weak wicket when it comes to the call management and contact management. The call management suite of Symbian gives a much better experience e.g. the option of sending SMS/MMS using the call log is not possible in Android. The call log is confusing as it lists dialed, received and missed calls in the same list. In the contact management, it is not possible to send the contact as a business card.

Applications: Android has a Marketplace from where the applications and games can be downloaded (freeware as well as paid). The quality of the applications is good and a number of useful utilities are available for free but the number of such applications is limited. The users can set shortcut keys for the application launch. However, it is not possible to make folders and hence management of applications and multiple files is a problem.

HTC Phone
The phone has an excellent touch screen and innovative form factor. The track ball on the phone for navigation takes the experience up several notches. However, the phone lacks a good speaker. The signal quality is poor and the keypad is hard to use. The battery life is poor and does not do any justice to the functionalities that Android has to offer. The GPS did not work properly during the test period. Camera quality is poor and taking pictures is a challenge. There are no camera settings like focus, zoom, etc. and video recording is also not possible. No option for video call.

Verdict: Go for this phone only if you want a good web experience. The platform still needs to improve on basics of a good phone but it is a good start by Google and it seems that the next battle would be fought on the platform – who will be the winner Symbian, Android and Microsoft?

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