Android and T-Mobile G1's Five Most Obnoxious FlawsS
While I was more impressed by the T-Mobile G1 than I thought I'd be, the list of catches for Android and the phone are quickly piling up—some that might very well be dealbreakers. Topping the list, it's tightly integrated with your Google account—so tightly that you can only use one Google account with the phone. If you want to switch to another account, you have to do a whole factory reset. Update: T-Mobile has patched up some of them—the 1GB cap is gone, and they'll unlock the phone for you after 90 days.A Googler told us the workaround they've been employing is using a separate IMAP mail app for their secondary Gmail accounts, but that still screws you if you've got calendars on multiple Google accounts—like if you've got a hosted Google Apps account for your site and a personal one, you've gotta pick one or the other. This is a technical limitation of Android 1.0, so it should be fixed in the future, but for now, as someone with a work account and a personal one, it definitely stings. Contacts and Syncing: As mentioned, there is no desktop syncing app. It's all about the cloud—your Google contacts and cal are considered the masters. So if it's all on your desktop or god forbird, MobileMe, you've gotta move it over to your Google account. At launch, however it'll be able to do remote syncing, so if you make a change or download an app on your desktop, your device will automatically sync up. Still, it'll be open for developers to fill this market, as well as the lack of Exchange support. Whether this is a plus or minus might depend on how you feel about Google being the masterkeeper of your contacts and info. Video: There's no video playback at all right now, except for YouTube. The expectation is that developers will create video playback apps and the requisite support. That's one of those big holes we worried Google would leave to developers to fill. Same story for video recording. Devs can add it in, though we've heard the video quality will look much better after Qualcomm's video accelerator is released. Hardware Inadequacies: No multitouch on the G1 and there never will be, since the panel itself doesn't support it. However, Googlers said they expected a full touchscreen device with multitouch in the future. The lack of a headphone jack, though kinda common for HTC devices, is pretty galling, especially for a consumer device. Mini-USB adapters are annoying as hell. Miscellaneous: You've gotta have an SD card for any kind of music or video playback, once the latter arrives—there's no internal storage for media playback. It's one of two problems we ran into with Amazon's MP3 store, the other being that you can only down tracks over-the-air with Wi-Fi. We'd like some over-3G action. For all of the choices when it comes to navigation, the fact that you have to use the QWERTY keyboard for all text entry can be annoying, since it involves a lot of flipping the phone around to type if you're navigating vertically. Some onscreen action would be nice, but once again, they're leaving that to developers. Finally, it's locked to T-Mobile. A Googler lamented that as well since it goes against the openness of Android, but said that in the long run, that won't matter, since there will be a ton of devices. But like everything else, in the meantime, developers can step in and release an unlock app. On the Android market, even. So Android's strengths—and weaknesses—really are as much in developers' hands as they are Google, hardware makers and carriers'. Update: T-Mobile has confirmed they will unlock it for you after your account has been active for 90 days, so this isn't as much of an issue—not that it was huge initially, since devs can and probably will put unlocking apps in the Android Market. Bonus T-Mobile obnoxious flaw: If you're lucky enough to live in one of the markets sprinkled with 3G, after you've used 1GB of data, T-Mobile will slow you down to 50Kbps for the rest of the month. That's slower than EDGE, which is theoretically capable of 384Kbps, though in real world it's closer to 100Kbps. I realize that's no doubt due in part to the relative immaturity of T-Mobile's 3G network, but as many times as I had to hear the words "mobile internet" and "future" today in reference to this phone, that's absolutely ludicrous. Especially when you consider that you're paying $25 for 3G data—the iPhone's $30 plan is totally unlimited, and the speed only drops when AT&T's network is sucking a fat one. The implications of this will make themselves more apparent over time as we see more apps populate the Android market and get a better idea of what they're capable of, but it's definitely looking like a large-to-critical pain point, besides just being annoying as balls. Update: T-Mobile apparently realized how horrible this was, and have backpedaled on the cap. Good to see they're listening.