updated 07:45 am EDT, Wed October 22, 2008
T-Mobile G1 Ships
T-Mobile today formally began shipping the G1, the first production Android-based device and the carrier's first full-touchscreen phone poised to challenge the iPhone. The launch sees the HTC-built handset available online to non-T-Mobile users for the first time and also makes the phone available in retail for those regions that carry T-Mobile's HSDPA- or UMTS-based 3G service; the company claims about 95 individual cities in over 20 major areas have the faster coverage.
Demo units will be available in all 2G areas to give buyers in those areas an opportunity to try the phone even if they may not have fast mobile Internet access outside of Wi-Fi.
The phone has generated direct comparisons with its Apple-made competitor through its emphasis on Internet access. In addition to a full HTML web browser, the phone is also tightly integrated with Google's contact and e-mail services and includes an internally-made version of Google Maps to take advantage of GPS. A built-in compass gives the phone the unique ability to use Street View on-location just by rotating the position of the G1.
Media playback is limited to a simple music player and a YouTube client, with no 3.5mm headphone output without an adapter. However, the device has built-in Amazon MP3 access to buy whole songs and albums on Wi-Fi, much as with Apple's App Store for iPhones.
The G1 will initially come in black and bronze colors, with white appearing shortly afterwards. Pricing for new customers is $180 when signing a two-year contract or $400 at full retail without a commitment. Each phone comes with a 1GB microSD card but supports up to 16GB microSDHC cards.