The much-anticipated G1, formerly known as the HTC Dream, is the first open-source Android-based smartphone.
The handset touts touchscreen functionality, a QWERTY keyboard, and a Google-centric mobile Web experience.
Inevitably, comparisons with the iPhone were going to be made and the price – both of the handset and monthly contract charges – was going to be an area of key interest.
The G1 will be available for USD $179 in the US from 22 October where it will be SIM-locked to T-Mobile’s network.
It will be offered with either a USD $25 data plan with unlimited Web access but limited messaging, or users can opt for true unlimited data for USD $35.
T-Mobile’s voice plans start at USD $30, meaning a total cost of USD $55 for unlimited Internet access.
Wired has done an interesting price comparison which estimates that, based on a two-year contract period, the G1 is around USD $380 cheaper than the 3G iPhone.
While the initial reaction to the USD $179 price tag for the G1 was positive, there have been complaints that it doesn’t apply to existing T-Mobile subscribers who have been reportedly been offered an unsubsidized price of USD $399 and a USD $100 online discount.
This ends up giving the G1 a USD $344 total cost – although this would still make it cheaper using the Wired calculations.
In terms of the spec, “solid but not spectacular” would probably sum up reviews of the handset, which is to be launched in the UK in November and elsewhere in Europe in early 2009.
As would be expected, the G1 comes loaded with Google Search, Google Maps Street View, Gmail, YouTube and other popular Google software that PC users are familiar with.
A full HTML Web browser lets users see any Web page the way it was designed to be seen, and then zoom in to expand any section by tapping on the screen.
Importantly, the G1 builds on the promise of the Google mobile operating system, which gives users access to the Android Market.
Customers can find and download applications from there to expand and personalize the HTC-made handset.
However, while the G1 has generally been greeted with praise, there has been some criticism of its styling and design – with complaints that it’s thicker and heavier than the iPhone and lacks features such as video playback.
A major grumble is that instead of standard headphone and USB ports, it has a proprietary combination port, meaning that regular headphones won’t work unless you add a special dongle.
There has also been some questioning of how “open” the G1 really is, since T-Mobile will be restricting voice over internet protocol (VoIP) applications.