Early reviews on Google’s Android smartphone indicate the Mountain View-based company may not knock Apple’s iPhone out of the ring, but Blackberry could soon look like an afterthought.
Walt Mossberg, the Dean of Technology writers, says Android is in the same class as iPhone, but allows the two devices will probably attract different types of users. For him, the physical keyboard is the notable differentiator, but he finds the T-Mobile G1 – Android’s lead-off batter, set to debut October 22nd – “only fair…with keys that are too flat and that can be hard to see in bright light.” Mossberg says the G1’s touch interface is “slick, clever…fast and smooth” and provides “much more flexibility in organizing your desktop than on the iPhone,” and he notes it includes some key features omitted on the Apple phone. The G1’s limited copy and paste functionality, and the ability to send photos via MMS may not convert the Apple faithful, but unlike AT&T, T-Mobile will allow users to legally unlock the phone after 90 days and start using it on another carrier, with a hefty early-termination fee.
Rachel Metz, writing for Associated Press, says the Android is “smart” but it needs work. She found the phone’s built-in support for YouTube “underwhelming” and complains that video and song playback is hampered by “a major hardware shortcoming”: no standard headphone jack. The G1’s earbud headset plugs into the same mini USB port used to charge the phone, which poses several problems for Metz, “as you can’t use your favorite headphones without an adapter and it’s impossible to charge the G1 while listening to music or watching videos, unless you want to use the included speaker.”
Tech Radar notes the G1 has a “kill switch” similar to the iPhone and is impressed that it is explained openly in the terms and conditions. They also like the fact that if you don’t like an app you’ve downloaded, “Google kindly lets you refund your money within 24 hours of purchase, which means you can try all the probably rubbish location based ‘find your friend’ apps without worry.”
T-Mobile has reportedly sold 1.5 million of the Android G1’s by pre-order, but buyers may be surprised that when they open up their boxes they will be getting what BusinessWeek writer Stephen H. Wildstrom calls “a developers’ release: a preliminary, unfinished version of a program that lets engineers kick the tires and gauge its potential.”