updated 03:20 pm EDT, Tue September 23, 2008
T-Mobile G1 Limitations
T-Mobile's heavily-touted G1 will carry multiple crucial limitations that may put it out of direct contention with the iPhone, a closer inspection of the Android phone shows. Notably, the company includes a disclaimer on its product page that warns T-Mobile's described unlimited plan only offers its full speed for the first 1GB of data transfered in one month. Service past this cap is throttled back to 50Kbps, making it difficult to use video and most other data-intensive services.
The carrier also warns that it may temporarily or permanently cut service if a subscriber's heavy use interferes with the network, though it doesn't establish when this is likely to occur or if customers have any remedies to the problem. Tethering for using the phone's data on a PC is also off-limits.
In comparison, AT&T currently shares the same tethering limit for its normal smartphone plans but has no publicized bandwidth cap or throttling policies.
HTC has also designed the G1 to fit in with the remainder of its phones and doesn't include a 3.5mm headphone jack as with the iPhone or other rivals. As with its own Touch Diamond and most of its lineup, the new smartphone instead uses a proprietary ExtUSB port that will require most users to start with HTC's proprietary earbuds and swap these out for power or a USB cable when syncing the device at home.
Several smaller issues have also been acknowledged as early limitations or those outside of the control of the involved companies. Google has warned in advance that the device lacks stereo Bluetooth audio due to time constraints for the launch and should be updated later. HTC has also been unable to implement multi-touch due to Apple's patents.
T-Mobile has warned that the G1 will follow in the steps of most carrier GSM phones and come with a locked SIM card, though it adds that it will allow contract-free models for $399 and will unlock the device after 90 days; it also noted during its New York City press event that the G1 will only be sold at retail for stores near its 3G coverage zones, which will include only 27 cities by the end of the year.
Compared to the iPhone and other devices, the handset is nonetheless expected to have a handful of advantages, including its open-source software platform, a full hardware QWERTY keyboard with trackball, and built-in access to a completely DRM-free online music store through Amazon.