T-Mobile Launches First Android Phone

By Naomi Graychase

September 24, 2008

The Wi-Fi-enabled 3G smartphone based on Google’s Android platform will be available for $179 starting October 22nd.

T-Mobile, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG, announced Tuesday that its T-Mobile G1 will be released to consumers, both online and in some brick and mortar retail outlets, on October 22nd.

The G1 is the world’s first Android-powered mobile phone and was engineered in partnership with HTC and Google. While the Android platform is open to enable third-party development of applications, the G1 is locked to T-Mobile as a carrier.

The Wi-Fi-enabled G1 combines full touch-screen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard with what T-Mobile brands as “a mobile Web experience,” which includes several Google products, including Google Maps Street View, Gmail, and YouTube.

At $179 with a two-year data subscription plan, the T-Mobile HTC handset is aggressively priced. It is being positioned as a direct competitor to the Apple iPhone (AT&T in the U.S.; Rogers in Canada). 

“We are proud that T-Mobile is the first operator in the world to launch an Android-powered mobile device,” said Christopher Schläffer, group product and innovation officer of Deutsche Telekom in a press release Tuesday. “Since 2005, Google has been an established partner in T-Mobile’s groundbreaking approach to bringing the open mobile Internet to the mass market. With the T-Mobile G1, we are continuing our strong tradition of being pioneers in the world of the open Internet.”g1.jpg

Google acquired Android in 2005 and announced its mobile phone plans in November 2007. Android was built under the auspices of the Open Handset Alliance, which has said the platform will come under one of the "most progressive, developer-friendly open source licenses" to support flexibility and freedom in product design.

By teaming up, T-Mobile, Google, and HTC integrated Android and T-Mobile services into the phone’s form and function. The G1 features a high-quality screen that slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard and a trackball to aid in one-handed navigation.

The Google influence is clear in features such as the one-click contextual search that enables users to search for relevant information “with a touch of a finger.” Following iPhone’s lead, a full HTML Web browser is incorporated to allow users to see any Web page the way it was designed to be seen, and then easily zoom in to expand any section by simply tapping on the screen.

In addition to Wi-Fi, support for T-Mobile’s 3G and EDGE network are built in.

Existing T-Mobile customers in the U.S. have the opportunity to pre-order the T-Mobile G1, in limited quantities, beginning Tuesday at www.T-MobileG1.com. It will also be available in the UK beginning in November and across Europe in the first quarter of 2009.

More information about the phone is available at the T-Mobile Web site (be prepared for some loud music and unnecessary graphics.)

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet.com.

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