With the screen slid aside, you can also gain access to the microSD slot. You get a 2GB card bundled in the box, which is a reasonable amount of storage. However, the iPhone ships with 8GB of embedded memory, so it would have been nice to have seen the G1 ship with an 8GB microSDHC card instead. In the G1’s favour though, the iPhone’s storage isn’t expandable, whereas you can slide an 8GB microSDHC card into the G1 for around £16, while 16GB will become just as affordable when the capacity makes the next jump.
The most impressive part of the whole hardware package is the screen, which is truly excellent – the external design of the G1 may not be cutting edge, but the screen certainly is. This is a 3.2in capacitive affair that not only looks great, but is also incredibly responsive and easy to use. Just like the iPhone, you don’t need a stylus to use the G1 – your fingertip will do just fine. Even before you touch the screen you know that it’s a quality display. With the brightness set to a very modest level it radiates its image in a way that most other mobile phone displays can’t. Colours are rich and vivid, viewing angles are amazingly wide and the clarity is second to none. That last point is helped by the fact that this screen shares the same 320 x 480 resolution of the iPhone, but due to its slightly smaller size and consequently smaller pixel pitch, the image is even sharper – much like the BlackBerry Bold in fact.
Interacting with the screen on the G1 is a genuine pleasure, in much the same way that it is on an iPhone. Sliding left and right on the Home screen is smooth as silk and instantaneously responsive in a way that HTC’s own TouchFlo interface never was. Scrolling through long lists is just as easy with the G1 giving you complete control of the speed of your navigation. Moving around through Google Maps is an absolute joy, in the same way as it is on an iPhone, but the G1’s lack of multi-touch is very apparent here. Anyone who’s been using an iPhone for a while will find that it’s second nature to pinch your finger and thumb on the screen to zoom in and out, but of course this won’t work on the G1, or any other handset bar the iPhone for that matter. The G1’s soft zoom buttons work very well it has to be said, but I can’t help thinking that Android is crying out for multi-touch.
One slightly odd point about the screen is that it doesn’t reorient itself when you turn the device from portrait to landscape. Now I know that the iPhone doesn’t do this either, unless a specific application (such as Safari) has that feature, but the point is that the G1 does switch it’s view when you slide the screen up, since it obviously knows that you wish to use the device in landscape mode when the keyboard is active. This is somewhat frustrating, since the G1 does have an accelerometer built into it, so there’s no reason that it shouldn’t switch the orientation of the screen when the device is turned. Even more annoying is that the G1 won’t switch even when you’re viewing photos – something that the iPhone, and even other HTC devices will do.