U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile is unveiling its G1 phone today at a special event in New York City, marking the first time a phone based on Google’s open Android mobile platform is being taken to market. Although demonstrations of Android’s capabilities and interface have left some industry watchers scratching their heads, early reports of the G1’s interface and capabilities are surprisingly positive…and no doubt will elicit comparisons to Apple’s industry-leading iPhone 3G.
Although detais are still sketchy, The T-Mobile G1 will feature a 3.1 megapixel camera, a 480 by 320 pixel LCD display, integrated Wi-Fi, integrated GPS, and expandable storage (no format available yet, but we suspect microSD) up to 8 GB. A Google Gmail account will be required to use the phone, and a wide swath of Google applications will be available for the G1, including YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Google Talk, one-touch access to Google Search, and (of course) Google Maps—aided by the integrated GPS unit. Made by HTC, the G1 features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for email and messaging, and will operate on both T-Mobile’s 3G and 2G networks—although reports have the G1 only being offered for sale in areas where T-Mobile’s 3G service is up and running.
The Wall Street Journal reports that T-Mobile will offer the G1 for $199, although other sources indicate the G1 will require a data plan contract and no pre-paid version will be available, at least initially.
One thing that might help the G1 compete with the iPhone is a music store: Amazon has announced just the thing, revealing that the Amazon MP3 store will be pre-loaded on the G1. Users will only be able to download music from Amazon using a Wi-Fi connection, but users will be able to search, browse, hear samples, and purchase music via the T-Mobile network.
The T-Mobile G1 will be available initially in black, white, and brown. So far, it doesn’t look like the units will support video capture with the built-in camera, and the specs don’t seem to include stereo Bluetooth, potentially limiting its appeal to users who want to push music to wireless headsets. Nonetheless, with its feature set and price tag—right in line with the 8 GB Apple iPhone—T-Mobile might be able to make some inroads in the burgeoning market for consumer-friendly, media-savvy smart phones. At least, among potential customers who live within T-Mobile’s limited 3G-enabled markets.
[Update: T-Mobile has announced pricing for the G1 will start at $179 with a two-year contract and will go on sale October 22; rollouts inthe U.K. and Europe are scheduled for later in 2008.]