There’s no shortage of first-look reviews of Google’s (GOOG) new Android “G1” GPhone today, so now that we’ve played with one ourselves, we’ll cut to the chase: Google’s first effort at a mobile phone is a good one, but Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 3G is still the high-end smartphone to beat.
Why? Google’s G1 is great for programmers, geeks, and open-source lovers who want to be able to do science projects with their phone. It’s priced roughly equivalently to the iPhone. (G1/T-Mobile: $179 plus minimum monthly data plan of $25; iPhone/AT&T $199/$30.) And perhaps someday it’ll be great for the rest of us who just want to be able to make phone calls, surf the Web, play games, listen to music, and chat. But right now, Apple still has an edge. Why?
- More polished, intuitive user interface. Google’s Android OS is powerful and looks attractive, but it’s a bit too Windows-like. Apple’s iPhone user interface is simpler, cleaner, and just makes more sense.
- We’re spoiled by multi-touch. We tried “pinching” Google Maps to zoom out on Google’s own phone, and were shot down. It’d be easy for Apple to add Street View maps — very slick on the G1 — to their Maps app with a software update; but HTC and Google simply can’t have multi-touch on this phone.
- The G1’s keyboard is nice, but what are you really going to be typing on a phone? (Especially one that can’t access Exchange/BlackBerry email accounts.) Is it worth making the phone almost twice as thick as the iPhone? Maybe not.
- Apple’s App Store is a year ahead of Google’s. We’re surprised by how many apps we’ve downloaded, especially professionally produced games, and how much time we spend using them. At Google’s launch event today, we heard about two geeky apps for the G1, but nothing about partnerships with Electronic Arts or other big gaming shops. Google’s Android App Store will be sparse at the beginning, and will take a while to fill out.
- Syncing the iPhone to your computer is a breeze. Music comes from iTunes, photos from iPhoto, etc. Google won’t have an iTunes-like desktop syncing app, and instead will sync up with Google’s various Internet-based services. We still don’t know how we’ll be able to move music from our computer to our phone, but we’re betting it won’t be nearly as simple and seamless as Apple’s made it.
- We’re not nearly as hung up about stats as some of our blogging brethren. But Google’s G1 comes with a tiny percentage of the memory — 1 GB — that Apple’s iPhone comes with — 8 GB. Sure, you can buy an 8-gig card for $50, but there goes any cost savings over the iPhone.
Nothing against Google: The G1 is a fine phone, and we see a potentially bright future for Android. But so far, our money’s still with Apple.
Bonus: Video of the G1’s free Pac-Man game.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.