HTC "Android" G1 Smartphone Preview : Still work in progress

If the HTC G1 and the iPhone were both part of a beauty contest, it is likely that the iPhone would still come on top despite having numerous flaws. For what it is, the HTC (or T-Mobile or Google, whatever suits you) G1 comes with its own lot of shortcomings.

It ain't as sexy as the iPhone and its elongated shape - like the Sony Xperia X1 - will not appeal to everyone but don't forget that it's only the first version of an Android phone and you can expect future devices to be much, much better, especially if fuelled by competition and rivalry amongst Open Handset Alliance partners.

Available in three different colours, the G1 is smaller than one would expect (117.7 mm × 55.7 mm x 17.1 mm) and is just slightly heavier than the iPhone at 158g; its direct competitor though boosts a bigger 3.5-inch screen and a much longer standby battery life (300 hours compared to 130 hours).

The first Android smartphone is also lacking in other segments: the camera doesn't come with a flash and can't record movies (or play them actually - except Youtube).

Onboard memory is limited to 256MB although one can boost it up to 32GB (and possibly more).

There's no earphone socket so you won't be able to connect your existing earphones without any USB adaptors and there's no Adobe Flash support - which is a real shame.

There are reports that the phone's browser does not support the full version of Google Docs, which is not surprising given that Chrome, which uses the same Webkit framework, has some issues with Google applications and services as well.

The phone is also tied with only one Gmail account, perfect if you use only ONE but a real kick in the teeth if you juggle a few of those; also forget about syncing with Outlook or other third party applications.

As for pricing.. well, HTC could very possibly have made a real effort to undercut the iPhone (and other competitors), instead at £720 for a 18-month contract, it is an expensive proposition that could encourage prospective buyers to wait and see.

There's no doubt that the G1 is influenced by the likes of the Sidekick or the HTC S710 smartphone and while this first version is not great, should Google overcome its 10 challenges (see 10 Challenges that Google's Android Platform Faces In the Next 12 Months), 2009 will be the year that Apple's share prices will tank big time.

Why not read our recent Android articles