T-Mobile (HTC) G1 - Google Android Smartphone - The Hardware

By Riyad Emeran



Our Score:


Unlike most mobile phones, the G1 is carrying a great weight of expectation on its shoulders, due to it being the first handset to employ Google's Android OS. However, it's still important to remember that the hardware that Android is running on is still a major factor. With dimensions of 118 x 56 x 17mm and a weight of 158g, the form factor of the G1 isn't going to separate it from the competition, so let's hope that it has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

I have to say that I was pretty disappointed when I first saw pictures of the G1 - it simply didn't look like a cutting edge handset, in fact it simply didn't look good at all. The first time I got my hands on the device my initial opinion of its aesthetics remained, at least until I go up close and personal with the black version. Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in my opinion the white G1 looks, well, cheap and nasty. And while the black version still couldn't be accused of having movie star good looks, it is a huge improvement over its paler sibling.

The inevitable comparisons with the iPhone just make the G1 look dated, despite it being the newer handset. In fact, you don't even have to look to Apple for the design of the G1 to appear slightly disappointing. Comparing the G1 to HTC's own Touch Pro handset, the latter looks far more sleek and modern. But as with all things, you should not judge this particular book by its cover. You see, once you pickup the G1 and start using it, it does start to grow on you. Ugly duckling? Yes. But that doesn't make it a terrible handset, just an unattractive one.

The G1 has a very tactile feel to it - at least the black version does. While the white G1 is finished in smooth plastic, the black version has a rubberised finish to the back, which makes it more comfortable to hold, while also ensuring that it won't slip out of your hand. This may seem like a small point, but having used a first generation iPhone for over a year, I still find it almost slipping out of my hand quite regularly when I take it out of my pocket. The G1 also feels comfortable against my ear when making a call - although I'm not convinced that the slightly curved bottom edge of the unit improves anything.

Below the 3.2in screen (I'll come back to that later) are five buttons and a trackball. The latter works in exactly the same way as the trackballs seen on BlackBerry devices since the introduction of the BlackBerry Pearl. You may, however, be questioning whether this type of hardware navigation is necessary considering that the G1 has a touchscreen. In all honesty the trackball isn't necessary, but it most definitely is useful. Yes, you can use the touchscreen for all your navigation needs, but there are times - like when you're moving the cursor in a text message or email - that the trackball is a far quicker and simpler option.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


November 5, 2008, 5:11 am

In a world with the iPhone, the Blackberry Bold, and the Nokia E71, I find the 5 for design quite generous. This thing is ugly!!!

Put all of the phones in a row and we could have a quick game of "Which one doesn't belong".


November 5, 2008, 5:56 am

A review I completely 100% agree with! This phone would be nasty if it had been released 2 years ago! It would also be nice if companies would stop getting us to do their own R&D. So many products these days are released way too early with terrible buggy OS's and poor hardware implementation and limited software...Do your own work, or pay us to submit 'bug' reports and feedback- how about 1p for every report submitted? Can you imagine if MS did that? We'd all be rich!

Mark 10

November 5, 2008, 11:21 am

Any chance of a review of just Google Android - i.e. disregarding the hardware?

Also, a comparison of Google Android with iPhone OS, would be great :)


November 5, 2008, 1:28 pm

Well the phone is made by HTC and it doesn't surprise me the hardware is no where near as some of HTC own devices such as the Diamond Pro, Diamond Touch and their new flagship device HTC Touch HD.

I can't wait for some cooked ROM with Android on the Touch HD. That will be awesome software on awesome hardware...


November 5, 2008, 4:06 pm

It's just occurred to me what the G1 remind me of; looks like the Sidekick with the top lopped off and a bigger screen! Further adding to the dated look though...

Oliver Levett

November 5, 2008, 4:23 pm

The hardware is very similar to that of the Diamond, the same 528MHz processor, the same ROM/RAM 256MB/192MB (some on the processor chip, some separate), and all the hardware is more recent, and better than the equivalent Apple hardware (the iPhone processor is underclocked, so the stock speed of the processor is virtually irrelevant). The design may not be to every ones taste, and at the risk of seeming mildly insane, I quite like it, it reminds me of some older devices (notably the HTC Trinity, and HTC Prophet, in fact, the front of the upcoming Blackstone is similar), and is understated.

Getting Android to run on the Blackstone will be a challenge, as WM and Android have different boot processes, and everything from the SPL to the Radio ROM will need to be rewritten to work on the subtly different hardware. Add to that the fact that Android doesn't have a SIP yet, and Blackstone + Android seems unlikely in the near future (unless you don't mind not being able to do anything on your nice expensive handset). Running Android within something like haret should be relatively simple, but having it as a standalone OS will not be.

If you don't like the OS, don't buy it and stop complaining, or rewrite it yourself! The code's all freely available! Google have done something spectacular by entering the phone business without any hardware, or OS experience at all (yes I know this device is manufactured by HTC, but the OS isn't). Let them get on with it, and develop something even better!


November 5, 2008, 5:57 pm

Nice screen.

On the incidental matter of making phone calls, how do you transfer three or four hundred contacts to the phone? do you have to write your own apps?.

Francesco Mastellone

November 5, 2008, 6:34 pm

@lifethroughalens: I don't get you. Not only does nobody force you to buy an Android phone, but you also complain about a largely superior development process. I guess it's not obvious to non-programmers but software is never a finished product. Sure, there is a certain degree of finalization that software undergoes before major releases, but that's barely appliable to a project as immense and complex as an OS.

Thanks to Android's open nature, its "early" release will make it grow exponentially faster: whatever internal testing Google could have done in a year will have been done by its partecipative user base in a few months, and whatever software Google could have written by itself in that time will instead be created or improved by thousands of programmers all over the world. People need to start understanding open source, because that's what most software will be like in the future.

Oh, about the review... I wouldn't have given such low votes. It's a pretty decent first effort, and I find it an excellent choice that the first Android-equipped phone isn't an ultra high end one. To me, it seems as if it's aimed more at developers: the real consumer stuff will come later.

...And to be completely sincere I like the step back in terms of size. The thinness war has already come to the point where it's hurting ergonomics, the G1 suffers from the inverse problem but it's at least a welcome change of pace.


November 5, 2008, 7:03 pm

@Frank: If you're transferring from another phone to the G1 you could just send all the contacts as Vcards by Bluetooth, tis what I did to transfer contacts quickly from a Symbian phone to a new WM model...


November 5, 2008, 9:23 pm

OK Francesco,

I know that no one is 'forcing' me to buy one - but still this is a very underwhelming handset that, in my opinion, should have been designed a bit better especially when it comes to the implementation of the keyboard. I think that the Android OS will be great step forward when it comes of age (probably 2 years of consumer feedback and development), but coming from a consumer's point of view as of today, it represents poor value for money if you just compare prices, looks & features of the handset and the (relatively expensive) tariffs that it's currently available on. Yes, I know great stuff will follow from the developers around The World which will probably give it the spit & polish it needs to sell huge.

Bear in mind that this review is more about the G1 phone and less about the Android OS. Still, it would have been nice if the OS had been developed a tad further before release and if more applications made available. Integrated Google maps and Google mail don't really cut the mustard when your looking at having to carry a handset *that* ugly around with you!

I do really look forward to the G2 & G3 and the day when, as a consumer, you can choose your OS of choice on any hardware (or even dual boot on a mobile).


November 5, 2008, 9:51 pm


Although we point out the OS is not quite there yet, it is by no means unusable. Indeed I'd be quite happy with using a G1 as my everyday phone. It's just that the handset is a bit weird. Literally all Google/HTC would need to do to make an awesome handset is put Android on a device like the Touch Diamond (and add a 3.5mm jack in the process). That said, the trackball is quite a nice, if unneeded, feature.

Certainly it won't be two years until Android phones come of age. I'd say it's more like six months.


November 5, 2008, 10:16 pm

Great :o) the sooner the better. I, like many, would love to see it on the Touch HD, my heart sank when I read that WinMob was the OS of choice! I'm also looking forward to the development of Symbian OS's, which I'm a fan of. I know, i'm strange :) Now if only my shiny new Archos 5 had a phone function....


November 5, 2008, 11:24 pm

@ ChaosDefinesOrder.

Thanks muchly.

Will look into the chaos of it and devine if it's in order. xx

Geoff Richards

November 6, 2008, 12:06 am

We have now updated this review with a lengthy 5 minute Video Review, for your viewing pleasure :)


November 6, 2008, 12:55 am

So the wait is finally over and we can at last get our hands on the Android but I was completely underwhelmed by the G1 hardware especially after the recent HTC launches, every one raising our expectations of how the G1 might look and feel.

I get the distinct feeling that as Android G2 - G3 and beyond are launched the G1 will remain as the "entry level" phone for the PAYGO customers. I think a lot of early adopters will hold off until that happens. Roll on the spring!

I must agree the black version is not nearly as ugly in the hand as it looks in all the photos but its surely never going to win any beauty competitions. So after a year wait I have not changed my conviction that my next phone will be an Android, Im just a little disappointed that I cant endorse THIS Android.


November 6, 2008, 2:31 am

Thank you.

I think I just doubled my vocabulary watching your video reviews! :D

Hans Gruber

November 6, 2008, 3:54 pm

Great video review, Ed is a very accomplished presenter. I wonder though, what was the sound quality of the device like?

The actual handset, as fugly as it is, has strangely grown on me. It'd be very interesting to see how fast Android as an OS is developed by the enthusiast community. Seeing the whole smooth operation of the touchscreen makes for a big positive, and I'm sure later firmware releases will fix the annoyingly absentee auto-screen re-orientation. Agreed that a simple onscreen keyboard would have benefited the device. I wonder if anyone's developed an app that does that yet? Did you find the GPS responsive and is Google's own web dependent Maps utility the only option for navigation software since it'd be nice to not have to rely on a 3G or wireless reception when out and about? Cheers. Sorry if some of the answers are in the written review - I shall look later on when I've more time.


November 11, 2008, 3:40 am

What a crap review this site is obviously full of aload of apple idiots. The G1 hands down beats a Iphone 3G.

Wheres copy and paste on the iphone lol ?

Wheres a proper keyboard on the iphone?

Wheres MMS texts on the iphone?

The applications are more usefull on the G1

The OS Is better

and who cares that its apparently Ugly ? the iphone is too feminine.

The G1 has a better camera.

And a card slot is alot better than internal memory.

Geoff Richards

November 11, 2008, 4:07 am

Do you even own a G1 phone? We don't allow trolling but I approved your comment to establish whether you can contribute mature, informed discussion to this review. If not, thanks for coming.

Geoff Richards

November 11, 2008, 4:40 am

He claims he does in fact own a G1, but had some other un-printable things to say so is having a time-out in the Naughty Corner while he learns to clean up his language.

Since I'm here I might as well have a crack at his issues. For the record, I don't own either handset but have played with both.

1) There's no copy & paste on the iPhone and people (rightfully) complain. If it's a deal-breaker, don't buy an iPhone. Personally, I've never had copy & paste on any phone I've owned, so I don't imagine it's absence would bother me.

2) The iPhone actually has a quite remarkable on-screen keyboard, so there's no need for a physical one. I find it interesting to note that people are asking "where is the G1's touchscreen keyboard?" despite the fact it has physical keys. I guess having to flip the screen out is a bit of an arse for simple inputs...

3) MMS. I have never, not even once, sent a photo message to anyone and I can’t recall ever wishing that I could either. In my entire life I think I have received maybe 3 photos from friends. That pretty much sums up what I think of MMS. Again, as per copy & paste, if MMS is essential to you, don’t buy an iPhone. If, like me, you don’t care one iota, then the fact the G1 can do it is not a differentiating factor worth considering.

4) More useful applications. Debatable – what’s your evidence? I’m inclined to imagine that G1’s open-source nature is more likely to produce a mountain of dross to sift through actually. Sure, there will be some gems but the iPhone has a bigger install base and iTunes users who are used to paying a buck or two for things they like.

5) Better OS. Again, somewhat subjective. Android has a boatload of potential and may well evolve into a superior mobile OS but it remains to be seen. I’m unlikely to make the jump myself until it is more proven.

6) Who cares that the G1 is ugly? I’m willing to bet the answer is "quite a lot of people" actually. Sex sells and the iPhone 3G is about as slick as they come. It's what Apple does best.

7) Better camera. Probably – it ain’t hard, since the iPhone camera is pretty pants. However, if half-decent photos from your phone are important, you’re probably more likely to favour more dedicated camera-phone handsets from Sony Ericsson or Samsung. In doing so you’re compromising your phone experience but that’s the trade off (still) these days. Nobody (yet) makes an awesome phone with awesome optics.

8) Slot vs internal memory. No contest: slot wins.


November 11, 2008, 5:47 am

See this is why this site is a joke "trustedreviews" hah should be BiasedReviews its all based on what the reviewer likes or doesn't like or what he or she uses. You should be writing about products from a neutral perspective.

Geoff Richards

November 11, 2008, 12:47 pm

I think you've missed the point, Steven. We employ the best UK tech journalists who are experts in their fields. Their job is to review a project objectively - to provide a factual analysis of the product backed up by their expert opinion ie "It has / doesn't have XYZ feature and here's why that's good / bad".

We've been doing it for 5 years and over 2 million people each month think we do a good job. If we were inherently biased it's fair to say we probably would not have made it this far - who wants to read bent reviews?

If anything, you seem a little too much in love with your new G1 and are blind to its obvious shortcomings.


November 11, 2008, 3:25 pm

Experts don't make me laugh, no real tech experts would give a iphone 3g 10/10 if anything your blind to any shortcomings of any product made by apple.


November 11, 2008, 7:40 pm

@G1 - "if anything your blind to any shortcomings of any product made by apple." - yes you're absolutely right, hence... http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


November 11, 2008, 8:14 pm

Hi G1! I really feel the need to come to TRs' defense; although Geoff is doing a fine job of that!

I have to take issue with some of the things you've said.

"What a crap review this site is obviously full of aload of apple idiots. The G1 hands down beats a Iphone 3G."

I'm not sure how you construed that, I thought the iPhone review was pretty balanced. Andy was very careful I think in his choice of words. He used phrases like:

"It's all a bit silly, isn't it? Nothing, especially a mobile phone, truly deserves the amount of attention heaped upon the iPhone 3G."


"It seems somewhat incongruous to praise something that should have never been a problem in the first place..."

That was in response to the non recessed headphone jack.

Doesn't sound like a fanboy to me, it sounds like a competent reviewer who has no issue giving praise and criticism where it's due.

"...hah should be BiasedReviews its all based on what the reviewer likes or doesn't like or what he or she uses. You should be writing about products from a neutral perspective."

Every reviewer brings something to a review. There's no real objectivety in a job like this. But I think TR does as good a job as anyone.

"...no real tech experts would give a iphone 3g 10/10 if anything your blind to any shortcomings of any product made by apple."

I don't own an iPhone (yet!) but I get drawn into my local Rogers store like a divining rod and start playing around with the floor model. It's just that good! I think the 10 is warranted. But you make it sound like that 10 came without criticism. But as I have already shown it did.

You also say they're blind to any shortcomings by Apple. Have you even read the other Apple reviews on here?

Take the iPod touch review. Hugo said "...The touch is im *my* opinion the most desirable of MP3 players." Said in the comments in response to someone else.

And yet he, surprisingly I must say, didn't give the Touch a recommended award! If it were me, I would have bestowed the recommendation.

Obviously for them to be blind, it would have had to be given the award. But it wasn't. Know why? Here's a hint, **They're not Apple fanboys!**

P.S. I still stand by my previous comment. This thing is FUGLY! Surprise coming from HTC.

P.S.S. Damn Riyad! You beat me to it! :)

comments powered by Disqus