G1 Android phone coming October 22 for $179


T-Mobile's Android-powered phone is ready to rumble. At an event in New York, the company's chief development officer, Cole Brodman, said that it will launch on October 22 and cost $179.

Existing customers of T-Mobile can order it now and get it shipped as soon as it becomes available. T-Mobile's usual voice and data plans apply, though its fast mobile internet system will be available in only 27 markets by November. That's "all of the large metropolitan markets in the U.S.," Brodman said.

HTC's Peter Chou, credited as the technical mind behind the handset, thanked his colleagues and said that it was a good day in New York, which hosted the launch event. HTC, based in Taiwan, is manufacturing the phone itself.

"We share a vision of making the mobile internet practical and fun," Chou said. "I've been working in this industry very long time. The Android phone is nimble, flexible and powerful. ... it's a fundamental shift in how people use the internet."

Explaining the motivation behind the system, which combines hardware from HTC, services and the open-source Android operating system from Google, and T-Mobile's small but growing 3G network, Brodman said that U.S. consumers overconsume everything, which is "why we love them." Given that, he lamented the lack of domestic broadband penetration, and blamed it on the lack of open standards and partnerships.

"This new open alliance will drive in the coming years and array of devices ... to really embrace the mobile internet," Brodman said.

Google's Andy Rubin said that on the launch date, the entirety of the operating system would be open-sourced.

Demonstrated live, the G1 sported a fully-featured, desktop-style browser described as "Chrome lite," and showed snappy response to touchscreen commands. And it's all-Google, preloaded with apps and syncing data to its servers, a la T-Mobile's Sidekicks. Also shown was Flickr and an implementation of Pac-Man.

Programs will be found at the "Android market," similar to the AppStore accessible to users of Apple's iPhone. There will also be an on-the-go MP3 download service hooked up to Amazon's DRM-free library.

"Trust me, it's a lot of fun," Brodman said.

By being open-source, Android is expected to avoid some of the rancor associated with the tightly-controlled software ecosystem around the iPhone, against which Android is seen as a potential dethroner.

The executives also fielded reporters' questions. Here are some of the answers:

• The data plan will require a voice plan. You can't get a "dry loop" and use it for VoIP only.
• It can read Word and PDF documents, but no exchange capability until a third party developer writes it.
• It will be SIM-locked to T-Mobile. Asked how tightly they would enforce that, Brodman said "The device cost a lot more than $179 from a purchase perspective."
• On the PC desktop: there's no app for syncing with your computer. It will sync like Sidekicks, with a server. In this case, Google's.
• It will be available in markets outside of 3G, but Brodman is pretty down on the idea of it: "The best experience there will be on WiFi."
• The browser uses the same base as Chrome, WebKit. "You can think of it as Chrome lite."
• "This device is going to have mass appeal. We expect it to be more of a consumer device, rather than enterprise, but people ... will use it for those reasons as well."
• It will offer a "robust" Gmail experience. People can plug third-party services into the front-end used to display it on your G1.
• It will work with any non-DRM audio files.
• No Skype yet.
• It's quad-band, the device will work on "essentially any GPRS/GSM network in the world."

The event also saw a surprise visit from Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who said he'd written an Android app that calculated how long the G1 remained aloft when thrown in the air.

"It's good to have a phone that I can play with and modify," Page said.

Here's a short clip from the demo video:

And here are a couple of stills from it:

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Photo (top right): T-Mobile

Published by Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.

Join the Conversation


  1. Does anybody know when Android will be coming out for Sprint? Android is CDMA, Sprint is CDMA. All it will take is a slight fimware update. I keep holding my breath.

  2. While all your attention was diverted by the latest gimmicky phone, the government gave itself the right to spy on your phone calls and data without warrants. Don’t you think Google has agreements with the feds to allow them to snoop through any data they have, including all your personal data? It’s not a good idea to use a service that stores your personal data on a corporate server. JMHO.

  3. I presume those of us who are on prepay plans will not be able to get that low price.

    Pity, because I’m just about sold on this as the replacement for the Palms…

  4. Android is CDMA

    Uh…no android is neither. Android is the operating system and likely doesn’t care about the type of network. This particular device isn’t CDMA either since it works with T-Mobile, which is GSM. That’s not to say that they couldn’t release a CDMA version of this, but it can’t be just a firmware update.

  5. “T-Mobile’s usual voice and data plans apply, though its fast mobile internet system will be available in only 27 markets by November. That’s “all of the large metropolitan markets in the U.S.,” Brodman said.”

    Untrue. Washington, D.C. is not in their 3G coverage map or planned areas. The city itself is larger than four or five of the cities that do have coverage (Portland, Atlanta, Sacramento?!?!). When you factor the surrounding area, it’s the eighth largest metro area in the country.

    And so I don’t come off as too provincial, Houston is the fourth largest city and sixth largest metro area. They have no T-Mobile 3G either.

  6. As tasty as Andy Rubin’s technological prowess may be, it is Rubin, not Reuben. No pastrami required. 😉

  7. You may be able to view the source, but you WILL NOT be able to compile it and load it onto your shiny new G-Phone. Only T-Mobile will be able to release new firmware for this particular G-Phone (that is sim-locked to T-Mobile).

    So, from the end-users perspective, it is no different than if the OS was WinMobile or Symbian or anything else. It’s still 100% carrier-controlled.

  8. hmm… Andy Rubin is del.icio,us as well, i’m sure.

    but i just called T-mob, and they said if yer a T-mob customer and you wanna Android phone, you have to do it through my.t-mobile.com . The folks at *611 can’t help you.

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