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The top 10 things I hate about my T-Mobile G1

It has been a few months now since I replaced my HTC Wing with the famous G1 running Google Android. Fully functional internet browser on 3G network is invaluable when 90% of things you do on your phone is web related. I also love the Gmail and Google Maps integration.

Despite all the great features G1 offers there are quite a few things I wish could be fixed. Some of these are just annoyances while others are really important factors that make me wonder if I should have made that jump. If you are thinking of joining the ranks of G1 owners, read these notes and decide for yourself if G1 is good enough for you.

Things I hate about my G1

  1. The keyboard has no ‘arrow’ keys - I use the keyboard a lot and lack of arrow keys is a big setback. I am supposed to use the little trackball instead but it is too sensitive to my liking and I always have problem with it if I just need to move the cursor by one space.
  2. There is no ‘today’ widget for the dashboard - I loved my old phone’s dashboard that listed today’s events and tasks. For some reason G1 doesn’t have anything like it and unless you go to the calendar (or configure a reminder) there is not way of knowing you have an important meeting coming today.
  3. Battery life is terrible - If you use the device for internet or other things, the battery is only good for an hour or so. Even with occasional use (5 minutes here and there) I have to put it in charger every evening or it will just die overnight.
  4. Market place has very few apps - From what I hear iPhone has many more applications at the marketplace compared to Android. This was somewhat expected. I hope things will change once Google opens it up to developers who want to sell their apps (so far all the applications are free).
  5. No file manager - I couldn’t find any file manager application that would let me move files around and edit text files. An app like that is crucial for my needs. A workaround so far is to connect the phone to a computer via USB and mount the file system as a Windows drive. You can then use your desktop computer for file management.
  6. Cannot record video - Android doesn’t come with any video recording software out of the box and I am still to find a Marketplace application that would do so.
  7. Proprietary audio jack - You can’t simply connect your stereo headset to the phone. Instead you have to use a special proprietary HTC converter. I understand this is done due to size limitations (the same jack is used for USB and power) sill I consider it a huge inconvenience.
  8. No support for A2DP on bluetooth - The absence of normal audio jack would not be a big problem if it wasn’t for the lack of support for A2DB. This is a bluetooth protocol that would allow you to stream stereo audio from your G1 to a wireless headset.
  9. No easy way to sync contacts - While I did find an application to synchronize my calendar, I am still out of luck searching for one to sync my Outlook address book. So far I just exported and imported my contacts via a CSV file.
  10. Ever hiding phone keyboard - Whenever you make or receive a phone call the screen is filled with details about the caller (or calling) party. If you want to use a keyboard (e.g. for touch tone operation) you have to expand a collapsible virtual keyboard. This is something I have to do a lot and I really wish I could configure it to stay always open.

The biggest problem I have with my G1 is not any of the things I mentioned above. It is a lack of good password & account management software. I used eWallet for Windows Mobile (by Ilium Software) on my Wing and there is simply no replacement for it on Android. This is a huge setback for me since after web and email this is the next primary function of my phone.

Do you have G1? Are you happy with it? What are some of the things you don’t like? Please share in the comments

T-Mobile eliminates handset upgrade fee

As of December 17, 2008 T-Mobile will no longer charge customers $18 for a phone upgrade. All T-Mobile devices are covered whether bought in retail stores or online. In addition, if you upgraded within the past two weeks, T-Mobile recommends contacting either a corporate store or customer service in order to be credited the $18 fee.

I could never really understand what made the company charge the fee in the first place (and by doing so hold customers from spending more money on the new phone). I guess this is the case of “they will do it if they can”. Obviously they can no longer charge it without risking loosing customers. The latest policy change is said to be based on customer feedback. From the press release:

T-Mobile is pleased to announce that beginning yesterday, the company has ditched the handset upgrade fee for customers. The elimination of the $18 upgrade fee applies across-the-board to all handsets (including the T-Mobile G1) and in all channels (e.g., retail, online, etc.).

With consumers watching every dollar this holiday season, the savings come at a perfect time. Note however this is NOT a holiday promotion, as there is no specified end date; it’s just another way T-Mobile is thanking its loyal customers.

Source: No more upgrade fees…no more no, no more upgrade fees (at TmoNews)

ShopSavvy – price comparison on Google Android

G1 running Google Android went on sale today in T-Mobile stores. I just watched the marketing clip and I am now eager to get one of those phones in my hands. It is not the phone itself that I am so excited about though. G1 is a fine piece of hardware but by itself it doesn’t achieve much (my year old HTC Wing does a lot of what G1 has). It is the combination of advanced hardware, open source platform, and online services that creates that incredible value.

I think when I get my hands on G1 it will be the applications that I will get most use of, not the phone itself. As phones become smarter you can do more and more things with them and the phone aspect of it gets less significant.

One of the Google Android applications I am eager to try is ShopSavvy - one of the winners in the Google Android Developer Challenge. The developers team has gone one step further than Frucall (the online service I reviewed last year) and made price comparison even easier.

With ShopSavvy you don’t need to read the UPC code off of the product and type it into your phone. The application makes use of the built in camera and ZXing, the open source bar code reader, to enter that UPC for you. Besides the bigger screen and faster connection allows ShopSavvy to navigate you directly to the product offering online, or pinpoint the location on the map should you choose to shop in-store.

Watch this embedded video for a short demo of how to shop using ShopSavvy. It is fairly easy and yet very powerful. I am sure the big guys at PriceGrabber and Shopzilla are already figuring out how to compete in this potentially huge marketplace. I can almost smell an acquisition. ;-)

Save on your phone bill with a dual mode phone

T-MobileT-Mobile is rolling out a new service that will allow you to make free phone calls from a cell phone using your home WiFi network. While the technology is not new and some companies have been playing with it for a while this is so far the first attempt to offer such service nation-wide in the US. The trial is currently underway in Seatlle area but if successful I would expect T-Mobile to roll it out fast. What is the catch?

First, you cannot use just any phone. The phone has to support two standards, GSM (that is what T-Mobile is using for their cellular network) and 802.11 (your WiFi network at home). At this time T-Mobile is offering a choice of two handsets: Nokia 6136 and Samsung T709 for $49.99 with a two-year contract, or $99 with a one-year contract. T-Mobile is also offering a WiFi router for free with a mail-in rebate however any home WiFi router should do.

Second, you have to pay for the WiFi connectivity which is an additional $19.99 a month. T-Mobile right now charges $19.99 for unlimited access to the Internet via their cellular network and WiFi HotSpots (which I pay for my plan). I wish this was the same access charge that they are talking about. I would jump on the plan as soon as it is available in my home town.

One has to wonder why they want this kind of service at all. Here is how NYTimes explains it:

Though consumers conceivably will use fewer cellular minutes with these phones, Mr. Entner said T-Mobile still benefits because consumers have to buy some kind of rate plan. T-Mobile can also lower its costs because some phone traffic that would otherwise travel on its cellular network will move to a competitor’s broadband network.

The second reason I think is the competitors. If it is not T-Mobile then some other company will start offering the same or similar service. Wireless communications is a very tough business to be in right now.

I think it is a very smart and timely move on the part of T-Mobile. As it doesn’t only put them in the lead over existing cellular providers but also takes market share from Vonage, SunRocket and other companies that offer phone plans over high speed Internet connections.

If you are lucky to live around Seattle you can use this sign-up page that T-Mobile have set up specially for the early adopters. If you do sign up, please let me know how it works for you. :-)

Read more about this new offer from T-Mobile here and here.




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