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T-Mobile G1: A $179 Google Android Phone

As expected, T-Mobile on Tuesday held a press conference to introduce the first mobile handset based on Google’s Android platform — the G1, which will retail for $179 when it goes on sale at select T-Mobile outlets and third party retailers on October 22nd. If the video shown during the announcement is any indication, T-Mobile’s “G1 with Google” should give the iPhone a run for its money.

The G1 (official website) includes a built-in compass, a 3-megapixel camera, a touchscreen that slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard, and a trackball for more precise, one-handed navigation. The device will come SIM-locked to T-Mobile, with built-in support for the carrier’s 3G and EDGE network as well as Wi-Fi.

Among the G1’s software features is one-click contextual search that allows users to search the entire device with the touch of a finger, and version of Google’s new Web browser called Chrome Lite that presents web pages in their natural form and lets users zoom in to expand any section by simply tapping on the screen.

The iPhone was only referred to by T-Mobile executives as “the device you mentioned” in response to a very indirect comparison raised by a member of the press. The phone isn’t compatible with iTunes and there’s currently no VoIP client other than Google Talk. Speaking of which, Google Talk will be integrated with the G1 phone book.

The G1 uses the open-source webkit browser (“Chrome light” according to Rubin).  

The Google applications on Android take full advantage of the features of the Android platform. Gmail is built on ‘embedded WebViews‘, the real-time push features and synchronization use the multi-tasking capabilities of the platform, and the integration between applications relies on the ‘Android Application Framework

The Amazon Music Store is pre-loaded into the phone. Google will apparently participate in marketing the device. According to T-Mobile, it will be the “largest marketing campaign T-Mobile has ever undertaken.” [Google Mobile Blog]

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