One of the issues with slider form-factors is the build quality of the device. The generally accepted rule states that a handset with more moving parts is more prone to eventual failure or malfunction. There’s nothing worse than breaking the slide mechanism on a sliding QWERTY keyboard.
To that end, the T-Mobile G1 shines. This handset is made by HTC, after all. HTC has had years of experience with slider designs and their prowess in industrial design really shines through on the G1. The slider is slick, yet solid. The mechanism feels solid – twisting the display in open (landscape) orientation resulted very little movement, indicating precisely machined parts and high-quality build.
The G1’s chassis is likewise solid, not giving in to any twisting forces. The battery cover, on the other hand, tends to flex and bend slightly when pressed with a finger. To be fair, though, battery covers tend to be the flimsiest parts of modern smartphones, so we’re going to give HTC a pass on this one.
There’s nothing like a squishy touchscreen to ruin your smartphone experience. Pressure-based touchscreens have been in use for more years than we care to count, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see resistive-based touchscreens going the way of the IR port (although, we do get nostalgic for IR functionality).
The T-Mobile G1 sports the superior capacitance-based touchscreen technology that was made so popular in Apple’s iPhone and iPhone 3G. Sadly, multi-touch functionality is missing from the G1’s touchscreen, but the solid, glass touchscreen adorning the G1’s front face is plenty nice. And, with a generous 3.5-inches of real estate, the G1 touchscreen is a pleasure to use.
Make sure to remove the protective film covering the touchscreen surface prior to powering-on your G1. We know some of you obsessive smartphone enthusiasts like to leave plastic films on your device as long as possible, but you just can’t get a feel for the G1’s smooth touchscreen surface with all that plastic in the way. If you’re worried about screen scratches, just know that the all-glass display is much more resistant to scratches than plastic, pressure-based (resistive) touchscreens.
Ahh, yes. The slide-out keyboard. For some, a physical keyboard is a necessity that makes or breaks the decision to buy a smartphone. For others, an on-screen keyboard will do just fine.
The T-Mobile G1 caters to fans from the gotta-have-a-hard-keyboard camp. With a flick of the fingers affecting a smooth “snick” of the slider mechanism, the T-Mobile G1 opens up to reveal the comfortably sized and ergonomically laid-out keyboard. The screen flips-out along an arcing pathway, distinguishing this QWERTY slider from almost every other keyboard-toting smartphone currently available.
Unfortunately, the G1’s hard keyboard does have an issue with backlight intensity. The keyboard backlight just isn’t strong enough for normal use. Granted, the presence of a backlight is definitely a good thing, but the weak backlight makes it near impossible to see the keys in dim lighting conditions – where there isn’t enough ambient light to make out the letters, but still enough light to overwhelm the keyboard backlight. To make matter worse, the bright screen tends to overpower the keyboard backlight.
At this time, the T-Mobile G1 doesn’t offer an on-screen virtual keyboard. The absence of a touchscreen keyboard takes away from the G1’s appeal as a hassle-free handset. Without the ability to enter short, simple text/character input via the touchscreen, G1 users will find themselves flicking the screen to get at the QWERTY keyboard quite often.
Thankfully, all other features and functions on the G1 (those that don’t specifically require text inputs – like Google searches, text messages, calendar entries, etc.) can be easily accessed via touchscreen finger-inputs and the trackball.
Android OS and Android Market…..