What you’ve probably gathered from the preceding pages is that the G1 offers a mix of mediocre hardware and cutting edge software, and that’s a pretty fair summary. But what’s the G1 actually like to use as a phone and a mobile device? Well, to be honest, it’s a bit of a mixed bag overall.
With its quad band credentials, the G1 will be a good handset for anyone who travels, while the fact that it’s 3G will mean that it will work in difficult destinations like Japan too. Call quality is generally excellent, and as I already mentioned I found the G1 very comfortable to hold against my ear, even for extended periods. However, I need to temper all that with a comment on the incredibly flaky signal strength. It’s common knowledge that the first generation iPhone is pretty poor when it comes to reception and signal strength, but there were times when my iPhone had four bars, and the G1 had no service whatsoever. And before you ask, yes they are both on the T-Mobile network.
Another potentially serious issue that I encountered was very poor battery life. After charging the G1 up overnight I took it out with me for the day, and by mid afternoon the battery was completely dead. I wasn’t even putting it through its paces, I basically spent some time on a train checking my email using Web Outlook, and generally played with the OS – most of the time it was just sitting in my pocket on standby. By comparison, my iPhone still had two thirds of its battery left, even thought I’d been listening to music on it for much of the day.
But the most annoying issue I had was the G1’s habit of playing a little jingle, constantly, over and over and over again after the battery ran dead the first time. It appeared that the phone thought it was playing a ring tone, because the ring tone volume affected the jingle, but if the phone rang, a different ring tone would play over the top of it. Likewise, turning on the music player didn’t help either, it just resulted in the music being played over the never ending jingle. No amount of power cycling the G1 would kill the never ending jingle once it started, and I had to resort to a hard reset to exorcise the beast.
On the plus side, once I’d performed the hard reset, the signal strength improved considerably, with the phone now rarely reporting that it has no service. The signal strength still isn’t what I’d call great, but it’s far better than it was when I first started using the device. GPS reception on the other hand proved to be very good, with the G1 locking onto satellites quickly and pinpointing my location in a matter of seconds on Google Maps.