How the G1 Bridges The Gap Between Consumer-Phones and Smartphones


I’ve always been puzzled as to how someone could live without a smartphone. To me, being able to check email, sports scores, and get my YouTube on whenever I want is simply commonplace.

That is, until I forsook my iPhone for the G1. Wait?! Can’t the G1 do YouTube, email, and sports scores (and do it better?!). It sure can. But in the interim while I wait for the G1, I’m stuck with a decidedly unconnected handset: the fabled Moto SLVR!

That’s right, a good old-fashioned phone. As I write this, I have my gmail, calendar, and contacts open in separate tabs in Chrome (TGIC!). This is a new and decidedly odd experience for me. It seems like email is all of the sudden akin to, well, mail. I have to physically sit down and check my email, rather than press a single button while I‘m walking. Yes, the number of users who downgrade themselves on purpose from a smartphone to a not-so-smart-phone are few and far between. And as nerdy as it sounds, it’s really made me rethink the way I live my life and communicate.

So I decided to step back and take a look at what makes smartphones (the G1 in particular) such a great value. Now, for a little background. I took it upon myself to see why the average consumer shuns buying a smartphone. I interviewed (okay – it wasn’t scientific or in the least bit “serious”) ten people who all came from varying circumstances. Parents, students, colleagues – different kinds of people. And in general the responses were along the lines of:

1) The internet on a phone is too difficult to use!

2) I can already use the internet on my phone! (referring to watered-down “mobile” sites and browsers)

3) The connection is much too slow in the first place!

I can almost hear the grumblings of you geeks, nerds, and mobile internet junkies out there already. You see, in the end, the complaints centered around the perceived fact that mobile internet simply isn’t practical.

I set out to explain to them that the current smartphones on today’s market were capable of fixing each of the three complaints that they had. That is: firstly, mobile internet is easy to use (and most would agree, as long as it’s on the right device), secondly, next-gen smartphones are capable of a much higher quality internet experience than “normal” phones, and thirdly, the 3G connection on a mobile phone is approaching speeds that seems to be useful and versatile.

So, what does this have to do with the G1 and Android? It’s a good question, and I believe it’s one that needs to be addressed. The G1 brings a very powerful idea to market: a consumer can now purchase a handset with mainstream prices and hyper-mainstream capabilities (check out our Application Listing to see just how)

For instance, the only extra charges on a handset like the G1 are for data. The phone itself isn’t too much more expensive than a normal phone under contract; and yet the G1 (and with it, Android) has been hailed as one of the most useful, versatile, and accessible phones ever created. How is that so? If we want to dive into a little simple math that might seem faintly reminiscent of a Saturday morning infomercial, $25 per month will garner 10GB of data and 400 text/IM messages. $25 divided by 30 days in a month equals circa $0.83 per day. This seems like a small price to pay for those high end features that most consumers deem to be too expensive.

So, in summation: the G1 provides low cost, high speed data. It provides a fast, easy to use browser. And it delivers it all in a package that is very consumer  (read: the ten individuals I interviewed) friendly. The G1 with Android provides a very accessible, stylish device that has features everyday users will love: a great phone, a great text messaging/IM interface, and media abilities. While these features are great, the Android also delivers to power-users, techies, and uber 1337 pwnzors.

In short: the G1 marries mainstream, consumer prices and features with advanced and fully capable software to create a sort of omni-device that serves the needs of the masses.

However, there is one thing that the G1 doesn’t give it’s owners, and that’s the opportunity to be humbled by a Moto SLVR. I brought that myself.

Spencer Gardner
Spencer sheds blood, sweat, and sometimes tears over each and every story that is written. All in the name of Sci..er..Android! He also runs many miles many days of the year and hugely enjoys the tech world in general.

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  1. $20 per month for data? i thought is was $25

  2. heh. I downgraded. I had a Wizard (aka T-mobile MDA) and went to the Shadow. And truthfully, it’s the form factor that’s impractical. I used to browse the web all the time w/ the MDA, but never did w/ the Shadow, simply because the interface was just too cumbersome. The Shadow’s form factor and non-ability to view in landscape made it a pain in the butt.

    I was trying to ‘get back to basics’ by downgrading, but I really missed the full keyboard and touchscreen when I did. Now I’m a G1 owner and I love it.

  3. Whoops! Thanks Chris! Yeah, the people that have actually downgraded for a while feel my pain. It’s almost eery how automatic checking my email, etc…was before I downgraded. Now, for the next few days, is a test of wit!

  4. Don’t confuse Android with T-mobile. Android is no more tied to $25/month dataplan than it is tied to htc hardware or Google integration.

  5. The same thing happened to me during tropical storm Fay; I was walking home to get supplies to stay the night with a friend, and my iPhone and I were drenched from a random wall of water floating around. Luckily a different friend lent me his Moto PEBL, and I seriously wanted to use it to start fires. After dealing with iTunes and no MMS and, I’ll admit it, my modest nature not wanting to pull an iPhone out in public, I am sooooo happy with my G1, and have learned to carry a plastic zip-lock whenever The Weather Channel app says there will be rain!

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