Google's G1 or Apple iPhone? Experts Weigh In

October 17, 2008

Judy Mottl

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Experts have lauded Google's Android platform for being one of the most open to date in smartphone development. Both the search giant and T-Mobile have promised they will not control third-party applications and development efforts -- allowing even Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications such as Skype. In contrast, Apple's iPhone is tightly controlled when it comes to application deployment, as is RIM's BlackBerry platform.

"Google needs to nurture the development community and provide tools and support for Android [to be a smartphone leading platform]," Greengart said, adding Google "needs to stay true to its promise of complete transparency."

In the meantime, the G1, the first of a slew of Android-based handsets expected within the next year, is the perfect smartphone for Google fans, Greengart said -- given how it provides easy access to Google's online services. In fact, G1 buyers must set up a Google account to activate the smartphone. Users of the current-generation iPhone, meanwhile, need to establish an account with Apple's music store, iTunes, for accessing music, video and third-party applications.

In his review this week Mossberg said the G1's physical keyboard -- which the iPhone lacks -- is the "biggest differentiator" between the two handsets. The G1 has a slide-out, five-row QWERTY keyboard, while the iPhone offers an on-screen keyboard.

Yet Mossberg called the G1 a "very good first effort" that will appeal to T-Mobile customers, as the carrier currently does not offer any other touchscreen smartphones.

The iPhone still reigns as the top multimedia smartphone, Mossberg added, noting the G1's music player, "while adequate, isn't as nice" as the iPhone's built-in iPod functionality. He also noted the G1's lack of a built-in video player, although a "rudimentary" one can be downloaded from the Android Market store for third-party applications.

Overall, Mossberg described the G1 as chiefly appealing to users who either want to stay with T-Mobile or who want a physical keyboard, "but want to be part of the new world of powerful pocket computers."

In his review the Times's Pogue also takes Google to task over the G1's music features, writing that it's where Android "really falls down." To transfer music to the device, G1 users must sync the device to a PC and manually drag and drop files from their computers.

Pogue also called the G1 "homelier" than the iPhone, which -- like many wares from the Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple -- has received high marks for its sleek product design.

"Nobody looks at G1 and says, 'Ooooh, I gotta have that,'" he wrote.

Update corrects details from New York Times review.

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