Don’t get a G1 (but do keep an eye out for Android Awesomeness!)

communication tools, technology

When it took me seven seconds just to be able to answer a phone call, that’s when I realized I had finally had enough.  I’ve never used an iPhone and due to disapproval over Apple’s policies probably never well, so this is not a “G1 Sucks iPhone Rules!!!1” post.  Unfortunately, it’s still a rant against the G1.

First, let me offer some disclaimers:
1) I’m a power user.  I’ve downloaded lots of apps, and overall, they rock.  Google Maps on the G1 is awesome.  Pandora’s new Android app made me literally giggle with glee.  And the Android OS, while clearly still a bit rough, has great potential IMHO.  But perhaps because I’m a power user (installing many apps and pushing the phone to its limits), the phone has been more frustrating for me than it is (or would be) for more, heh, normal people.
2) And speaking of normal people… my sister—who is crazy-smart but hardly an early adopter geek—LOVES her G1.  She pretty much only uses it for phone calls and checking her e-mail, but the latter came in handy wonderfully when her desktop computer was down and also when the electricity was out where she lives.  She’s had no problems figuring out how to use the phone, and seemingly no problems getting it to do what she wants to do with it.  Though granted, when I last spoke with her, she hadn’t actually installed a single app.
3) I know people on the Android team and I hope they do not hate me after this post.  They’re genuinely good, smart, hardworking folks who IMHO made an admirable effort towards Android Phone v1.  When the phone works well (and let me note, it mostly does), it makes you appreciate the power and opportunities in an open mobile OS

Alas, though, for better or worse, working well most of the time isn’t sufficient for a phone. Phones should work reliably and consistently well, and the G1 does not.  It comes down to the hardware: Ouch.  Ouch.  Ouch.  Slow, as in, it often takes over five seconds for the home page to show up after you click the home button.  That, combined with the flakiness in making and receiving calls, makes it a pretty lousy phone for phone calls. And regardless of my preference for e-mail over voice calls most of the time, this is still absolutely, positively unacceptable in a phone.

*  *  *

Many of you may be surprised to hear me publicly railing against what some refer to as “the Google Phone.”  I note (with some pride) that my policy has pretty much always been to offer public praise on Google products when I feel they deserve it and private (within-Google) blunt-yet-constructive criticisms of Google products that (to me) fall short.

But…
1) This technically isn’t a “Google phone.”  We made the software, but someone else made the hardware.  I’m mentioning this as a technicality, admittedly, and not intending to just pass the buck.  Ultimately, it’s got our name on it and we should (and I believe do) take both responsibility and credit for Android phones that include what’s known as the “Google Experience.”
2) I can say with firm confidence that many of the phones coming down the pike this year (18-20 is the number publicly pre-announced!) simply ROCK.    And I want folks’ first experience with Android to be one that’s consistently AWESOME, not just “Hmm, pretty good most of the time.”

You should be asking Santa for an Android phone this Christmas, even if you’re an atheist.  Er, okay, if you’re a non-Christian, perhaps you should just go out and buy an Android phone yourself.  You’ll appreciate the better (much better) hardware, slicker UIs, and a lot more to make you smile.

11 comments… add one
  • imma Sep 12, 2009

    I found that, with lots of apps installed, mine will slow down after a couple of days use (even though I have a cleanup app too) but a quick(slow except when compared to a laptop/similar) reboot & check of what apps are running seems to get it running smoothly again.

    Largely I’m trying to say the hardware is good enough to provide a nice experience, but not to guarantee one 😉

    imma (happy G1 user)

  • Andrew Girdwood Sep 12, 2009

    I agree. I’m currently on a Sony Ericsson X1 running Windows Mobile. It’s a replacement for my iPhone 3G which was stolen.

    My next phone will be an Android phone – but that’s only because the range has evolved since the G1 came out.

    I was underwhelmed at launch. I don’t even think the myTouch is all that good either – but recently we’ve started to see some really interesting (and tempting) Android phones. HTC in particular produce some goodies.

  • Huy Zing Sep 13, 2009

    I’ve been carrying both an iPhone and a G1 for almost a year now.
    When my phone rings, I’m delighted when the call comes in on my iPhone and I hate it when it comes on the G1.

    I’m a pessimist when it comes to Android because of the terrible experience.  Precisely because no one controls the software, the hardware, and the whole purchasing experience (on mobile and PC) like Apple does, the experience will always be second to the iPhone’s.

    I can draw parallels to OpenSocial: because of the synergies, Facebook can simply innovate faster without consensus or waiting to see what 3rd parties are going to do.

    Sorry Adam, My feeling is Android will not catch up, no matter how many devices you throw at it.

  • bruloas Sep 14, 2009

    I don’t think I’ve ever “had to” restart my iPhone in the 8 months I’ve owned it.  It was just more of a “damn…maybe I should give her a little rest—how many weeks has it been?”

  • Johan Jmilou Sep 15, 2009

    The iPhone has serious battery problems. The G1 isn’t perfect as well. I like the new Samsung Qwerty / Pro with keyboard. I recommend it.

  • Adam Sep 19, 2009

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

    And Huy, hope we win you back ;-).  I’ve had the chance to see new devices and updated the Android OS and I’m pretty impressed.  And I respectfully disagree about the speed of innovation being by default faster when control is held by one company; at a certain point in a product’s evolution, I think the reverse is true.

    Let’s all touch base again in 6 months to a year or so 😀

  • Joseph Sep 29, 2009

    I’m thinking about getting an phone with Android on it, but thinking many of the current handsets aren’t all that great. If there are some better ones on the way then will hold off.

  • Gopal Nov 1, 2009

    iphone still has far better touch screen.. I wish they let others use that technology…
    I dont want to pay for their contracts..

  • Jon Conner Nov 1, 2009

    I also dont like the G1.
    I prefer the Android Phone of alienware. do you know the design?
    But it was winter my cellphone is frozen so all my data vanished without a trace.

    http://zeitgeist.yopi.de/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/google-phone-alienware-android.jpg

    what do you think of that design?

    Jon

  • rayan Nov 4, 2009

    It’s just looks like an Alienware skull skin on a regular phone, but the features look pretty cool.

  • ThatAdamGuy Jun 12, 2010

    Well, in the meantime, I’ve been using a Nexus One and am quite fond of it. I’ve heard the Incredible is even better. And — without any inside knowledge re: this assertion — I’m pretty confident that this year is going to be even crazy-cooler with new Android stuff 🙂 (and, to be fair, with the new iPhone, which sounds pretty neat!)

What do you think?