My first tech review…

The announcement this week that Google has produced its new phone reminded me that I have been meaning to review my phone for months. I am not a real technology person: for me, gadgets are tools to be used; so I’ve not written any reviews before, reckoning that these are better written by technical experts who can explain what all the bits and bytes actually mean. On the other hand, I have months of experience of using my phone – so here goes!

In the UK, there has been a Google-branded smart phone for a year or so – T-mobile’s G1 (indeed there is the G2, too – the G1 is no longer available…), running Android OS and manufactured, I think, by HTC. (Incidentally, the new Google Nexus is just a Google-branded phone: it will of course be made by a phone manufacturer – and that will also be HTC.)

Photo from CMSWire

I have had the G1 since August, I think.

It is the first smart phone I have had, and it has changed the way I interact with the internet; I cannot imagine not having unlimited, usually instant access to the web. I use it the whole time, and my phone has probably become the main means by which I use the internet.

There were other smart phones I could have, but I particularly wanted a physical (rather than touchscreen) keyboard. The G1 has cantilevered touchscreen which flips up to reveal a small QWERTY keyboard, so it has the advantages of the touchscreen and a keyboard when I need one.

I love it.

It isn’t perfect, though.

  • It has a rollerball for moving the cursor around the screen. This is completely useless – it is very hard to control, being far too sensitive with no drag at all. I hardly ever use the rollerball, and frankly it just gets in the way
  • headphones connect the G1 through a mini-USB port, using an adaptor. Why? WHY?!! This frankly makes the phone useless for listening to music. If I have to carry the adaptor cable (which just gets tangled up in my pocket or bag…) I might as well carry my iPod. Which is what I do, though manly because…
  • …the music player is appallingly bad. I mean, really very poor indeed. I have tried it a couple of times, and frankly I don’t know why they would bother creating a music player if it can’t cut it. I am pretty sure that there are other players available from the Android store, but I am not going to bother to look.
  • The touchscreen is sometimes hard to control: sometimes when I am scrolling, it opens links on the web page instead, which is irritating; sometimes (probably due to my inattention to grease marks…) it doesn’t scroll at all. Like I say, possibly my fault.
  • In particular, the touchscreen doesn’t do some of the fancy tricks that I have jealously seen people do with their iPhones – pinching and opening fingers to zoom in and out, for instance. This may be gimmicky, but I think it could also be very useful – particularly with maps.
  • I often – really very often – don’t hear incoming calls ring, despite the ringtone being set as loud as possible. This even happens when I am expecting calls, and listening out for them! It just seems very quiet.
  • the dialer/contact list isn’t intuitive for me; it takes two or more actions to dial from the contacts than just one, which is just daft, frankly. This could be much better designed.

So whilst I love it, it isn’t perfect. It has changed the way I use the internet – but with a little more thought, it could have been so much better.


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