Since the iPhone was launched 15 months ago it has defined, for many, what a smartphone experience should be. But today T-Mobile gives the iPhone a run for its money with the launch of the G1 smartphone. From the details that have emerged today regarding the G1, Apple now has a reason to be looking over its' shoulder.
Here is a look at how G1 and the iPhone compare to one another.
Platform and Device
In contrast to Apple that built its own phone, operating system, and content ecosystem, the G1 is based on an open platform. That means any software publisher can design programs that run on the G1 and its Android operating system. The potential universe of T-Mobile G1 applications is huge. Yet, it's too early to know whether mobile application developers will flock to the Android platform.
At least for now Apple has the upper hand when it comes to the device. The number of iPhone mobile applications (accessible via Apple's App Store) is growing every day. However, Apple's total control over the iPhone can also be bad because Apple can choose to exert too much control over what applications run on the iPhone and bar those that it doesn't like, upsetting users.
Hardware Specs G1 vs iPhone:
Weight: G1 = 158g vs iPhone = 133g
Battery Life: G1 = 5 hours talk time, 130 hours standby vs iPhone = 5 hours talk time, 300 hours standby
Screen Size: G1 = 3.2inches vs iPhone = 3.5in
Camera: G1 = 3MP vs iPhone = 2MP
Storage: G1 = 2GB (expandable to 8GB) vs iPhone = 8GB or 16GB
The big difference between G1 and iPhone is how you put music, videos, games, and productivity applications on your phone. The iPhone has iTunes, mobile iTunes (for iPod Touch and iPhone) and the App Store.
Things work differently with T-Mobile's G1. The G1 doesn't require a desktop software porgram similar to iTunes to add content to your phone. Content can be added via a removeable storage card, but most content T-Mobile says will be downloaded using Wi-Fi connection.
Many Google applications will come pre-loaded onto the G1, for example push Gmail service, Google Maps functionality, Google Calendar, and YouTube. T-Mobile is only talking about a handful of third-party applications right now. There are likely loads more to be announced leading up the G1's October 22 debut. Some include ShopSavvy, a program that turns your phone into a barcode scanner able to read UPC codes and deliver instant price comparisons and PedNav, a location-aware application that helps you find nearby public transit options and walking routes.
These mobile applications will be available through Android Market - a competitor to Apple's App Store.
Music: Amazon MP3 vs. iTunes
The iPhone has iTunes and the G1 has an application preinstalled called Amazon MP3, Amazon.com's digital music download store.
Amazon many not have as big of a library of content to choose from compared to iTunes, yet. But the chief advantage Amazon has over iTunes is music is a bit less expensive and music tracks don't have digital rights management (DRM) on them. That means anything you download to you G1 you can play on your iPod, Zune, or transfer to your PC - no hassles.
There was no mention of it today, but one can only assume that video content, as with music content, will be also be accessible through Amazon's Web-based download service.
Features: G1 vs iPhone
G1 = Touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard, Internet access via 3G and Wi-Fi, additional content via Android Market, music from Amazon, built-in GPS, and "compass" for easy navigation, instant messaging, push-email, locked Sim card, Web browsing.
iPhone = Touchscreen, virtual QWERTY keyboard, multi-touch gesture support, Internet access via 3G and Wi-Fi, additional music and applications via iTunes and App Store, built-in GPS (second-gen iPhone), Visual Voicemail, multi-touch gesture support, Microsoft Exchange support, push-email, locked Sim card, Web browsing.
The overall two-year cost of owning a $200 iPhone is $2360 (unlimited texting). The cost of owning a G1 with an identical texting plan is between $1620 and $2460.
Here is the breakdown:
The T-Mobile G1 will run you $180 with two-year contract - add $25/month for an unlimited data plan (which includes unlimited Internet usage and limited messaging) or a $35/month plan for unlimited messaging. A basic T-Mobile voice plan ranges from $30/month (300 minutes) and $60/month (1500 minutes). T-Mobile says in order to purchase the G1 you must also get a "qualifying rate plan." T-Mobile didn't get back to me on what a "qualifying rate plan" for the G1 is.
On the other hand Apple's iPhone will run you $200 (8GB) which also requires a 2-year contract. The rate plan will set you back basic rate-plan is $70/month (which including unlimited Internet access). For another $20/month you can get unlimited text messaging.
There is too much we don't know about the device to make any comprehensive comparisons. One big variable is 3G coverage and how comprehensive T-Mobile's network is. That was a big deal for people considering buying and upgrading to the second generation iPhone.
Network speed and other details we'll just have to wait and find out about when the G1 launches next month.