[Android Phone] Multi-touch Feature Unavailable; Battery Charged via mini USB

Oct 27, 2008
Tetsuo Nozawa, Nikkei Electronics
With the slide open
With the slide open
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A close-up of the keyboard
A close-up of the keyboard
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Five buttons (including a Menu button) and a trackball (diameter: 5.1mm). Under them is a mini USB connector for battery charging and data transmission.
Five buttons (including a Menu button) and a trackball (diameter: 5.1mm). Under them is a mini USB connector for battery charging and data transmission.
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We obtained the T-Mobile G1 (G1), a mobile phone released by T-Mobile USA Inc. After using the handset, we noticed some features slightly different from those of other models commonly used in the US.

The G1 has a sliding QWERTY keyboard. And (1) a Menu button, (2) a Send button, (3) an End button that also serves as the On/Off button for the screen, (4) a Home button, (5) a Back button and (6) a trackball with an "Enter" key function are located on the outer side of the chassis.

The handset can be operated to some degree without the keyboard because the display is a touch panel. But unlike the iPhone, the touch panel does not offer the multi-touch feature and senses touch at only one point at a time. For example, the touch functionality allows images to be enlarged or reduced with the touch of a finger.

It was unable to find a copy and paste function, which is unavailable to the iPhone, on the G1. Compared with the iPhone, however, the G1 gives a better impression because it has multiple means of input.

It is unusual for a this type of smartphone to have three input interfaces, the QWERTY keyboard, the touch panel and the trackball, though many models offer two of them. For example, most of the smartphones recently released by HTC Corp of Taiwan*1 have a QWERTY keyboard and a touch panel.

*1: HTC is the developer of the G1 and the BlackBerry Storm smartphone, which was just released on Oct 8, 2008, in the US and other countries by Research In Motion Ltd (RIM) of Canada.

The BlackBerry Bold, which is also manufactured by RIM and is slated for release in Japan by NTT Docomo Inc within fiscal 2008, has a QWERTY keyboard and a trackball but no touch panel display.

Another difference from many handsets in the US is that the G1 does not have a dedicated mute button to select the ring alert or the vibration mode. Instead, it has speaker volume control buttons.

When the user keeps pushing the minus button of the volume control, it turns to zero and then the handset switches over to the vibration mode. Eliminating the dedicated mute button is a rather drastic modification for a handset sold in the US market, considering the fact that even the iPhone provides this function.

Music data set as a ring tone

The battery is charged via a mini USB connector. Charging may be carried out while transmitting music data in MP3 and other formats from a personal computer connected to the mobile phone. Users can choose any music file from the stored data and use it as a ring tone. When the G1 is released in Japan, this function will probably compete against various ring tone download services.

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