The T-Mobile G1 shows us Android fragmentation doesn’t matter


With such under-powered specifications, some might think the G1 has no use by today’s standards, other than as a nostalgic reminder of yesteryear. Fortunately, Android is more resilient than that. Here are some things that you can — and can’t — do with your old HTC Dream — evidence that Android fragmentation doesn’t really matter.

The HTC Dream, also sold by T-Mobile as the T-Mobile G1, was made available in the United States on October 22, 2008, but sales were limited to areas in which 3G data was available. T-Mobile lifted that restriction and made it generally available on January 24, 2009.

It’s an itty-bitty device by today’s standards, with a capacitive touchscreen LCD display of only 3.2 inches and a resolution of 320×480. It’s powered by a single-core 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A SoC with only 192 MB RAM. Internal storage space is limited with only 256 MB available, but that can be expanded by up to 16 GB using a microsd card.

For comparison, the HTC one has a display that measures 4.7 inches, with a resolution of  1080×1920. It’s powered by a Quad-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm APQ8064T Snapdragon 600 SoC with 2 GB RAM. It’s available with either 32 GB or 64 GB internal storage which cannot be expanded due to its lack of an sdcard slot.

The G1 originally ran Android 1.5 Cupcake, but was later upgraded to Android 1.6 Donut. Not all variants of the HTC dream were that lucky, the Rogers version was stuck on 1.5 because it wasn’t “Google branded”.

Now that we’ve got the background out of the way, let’s take a look at what the T-Mobile G1 can still do today, despite being almost 5 years old.

Social Networking

One of the things we do with our mobile devices is stay connected with one another via various social networks.

As far as official apps go, Facebook is available, but it looks a little different running on Android 1.6. There’s no official Twitter client, and even Plume is missing, though HootSuite is there to pick up the slack.

Some of the “newer” social networks like Pinterest and Google Plus are missing, and there’s no official Instagram app, but you may find third-party solutions to all your social needs.

Note Taking

Taking quick notes is another primary use of a mobile device, especially with a physical keyboard like the G1 has.

Google’s own Keep note-taking app won’t run on Android 1.6, but Evernote does just fine.

Phone & data

Of course, a smartphone has to have phone capabilities, and that’s where this little Android really stands proud.

Despite all the time that’s passed, making and receiving phone calls still worked just fine. Text messaging was smooth and fluid, and web browsing didn’t have any problems when connected to WiFi. I ran into an issue getting my “new” SIM to work with T-Mobile’s 3G data, but according to a T-Mobile rep, swapping to another SIM would take care of that.

I wrote texts and emails. I kept my calendar up-to-date. I took notes. I made and received phone calls that sounded great. I even watched my fill of videos on YouTube. Some apps aren’t available, others don’t look as new or as fresh as their current counterparts, but the G1 did everything that I needed it to.

All told, if you need a smartphone, and don’t care about all the bells and whistles, despite its age the T-Mobile G1 is still a very viable option, and proves that when it comes to doing the things most people use a phone for, Android fragmentation doesn’t really matter.


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.