The past several years have seen an unprecedented explosion in mobile phone technology. Although cell phones were once solely used for voice communication, these days some phones can do most anything a computer can, with a much easier user interface. Research in Motion pioneered the cell phone data revolution with easy access to email, but it was Apple that really raised the bar when it came out with the iPhone in 2007. With its touch screen, full QWERTY keyboard, and a host of applications that do everything from displaying turn-by-turn directions to surfing the internet on a real browser, the iPhone set a new standard in cell phone technology.
After Apple released the iPhone, many cell phone manufacturers raced to catch up. Samsung followed soon after with its Instinct model, and Research in Motion came out with the BlackBerry Storm after that. One highly-anticipated phone that has been touted as a good iPhone alternative is the T-Mobile G1. Released to the U.S. in October, 2008, the G1 runs on Google’s Android platform. Both the iPhone and the G1 have their respective fans, but there are key differences between each phone, and one should understand these differences when choosing between the two phones.
Both phones sport a capacitive touchscreen, which operates by detecting the capacitance of a person’s finger, or the ability to hold an electric charge. Therefore, the hardware in both phones support multi-touch, or the ability to make gestures by using more than one finger, such as tapping two fingers on the iPhone’s Maps application to zoom out. However, only the iPhone’s operating system currently supports multi-touch, and the G1 does not.
The G1 has a slide-out keyboard that consists of small buttons, while the iPhone displays a virtual keyboard on its touch screen. This is largely a matter of personal preference, as some prefer the tactile feedback of a raised keyboard, while others like the fact that the iPhone’s keyboard is one that doesn’t have to be slid out, thus keeping the device from being as bulky as the G1 when in keyboard mode.
This is one area where the G1 has a leg up on the iPhone, in that it has a digital compass where the iPhone does not. As both phones feature a Google Maps application, only the G1 can use its compass to orient the Street View images based on the direction the person is standing.
Another feature in which the G1 has an advantage, the camera on the T-Mobile device is a 3.2 megapixel camera, while the iPhone’s camera is only 2 megapixels. Simply put, the G1’s photos are taken at a higher resolution than those taken by the iPhone, so they will be larger in size or much clearer when sized the same. Neither phone supports taking video.
The conclusion I have come to is that choosing between the iPhone and G1 depends on what features are important to the user. If his or her priority is to have a phone with a great camera or a great GPS system, the G1 may be the better choice. On the other hand, if the person desires portability and a great user interface, the iPhone would most likely be the best option.