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James Gardner: Home > Blog > 2008 > Google G1 with Android on T-Mobile UK

Google G1 with Android on T-Mobile UK

Posted:2008-12-08 14:34
Tags:Web, Software Releases, Hardware, Apple

I've been using a Samsung E-250 mobile phone for a long time, it is small, light, battery lasts for ages and it is fine for txt messaging and calls but I've avoided buying a smart phone for ages. I originally eagerly anticipated the iPhone (an even bought a MacBook Air partly because I wanted to play with the SDK and needed a Mac) but I never ended up buying one. (In fact I'd even gone to Apple's flagship store in Regent Street to buy an iPhone about 3 months ago with my driver's license, bank statements, cheque books and cash but because my card had been stolen along with the phone I was replacing I didn't have a credit card on me at the time and was told that although they could do a credit check they wouldn't accept cash for the phone itself so I wasn't allowed to buy the phone - absolutely ridiculous that you can't use cash in London anymore but at the end of the day its their loss, the iPhone would have cost me 729 GBP over the same period as the G1).

Anyway, it comes as a bit of a shock to me but despite my mistrust of smartphones generally I'm now the proud owner of a G1. I bought it from the t-Mobile shop in Bedford on Saturday after wandering in just to have a play. The web browser was extremely fast even though the phone wasn't connected to either wifi or even 3G and I was able to install a terminal application directly from the app store and it worked perfectly. A terminal and a keyboard on a mobile device with unlimited internet access and an open source operating system - I was sold! It turns out that for 97 GBP you can buy the phone on a 15 GBP/month contract with an additional 5 GBP/month for web 'n' walk. This means you get an Android phone, 2Gb data card, unlimited web browsing (subject to 3Gb/month maximum and restricted bandwidth after that) 100 SMS messages and 100 minutes per month. The sales staff were very friendly and helpful and even let me root through their entire box of SIM cards to choose a number I thought would be easy to remember. I didn't have any form of ID other than one debit card (which currently has its PIN blocked!) but that was enough for the entire process which was quick and painless, and this time I could pay in cash. They even set the phone up for me... but unfortunately the phone didn't work.

As part of the setup you have to have a Google Account and before you can access any of the phone's functionality (apart from emergency calls and APN settings) you have to create or register an account. To do that you must be connected to the t-Mobile network and your SIM card has to be provisioned. I kept getting an error saying that the phone could not be connect to the Google servers, that my SIM card may not be provisioned for data services and that I should contact Customer Care if the problem persists. The chap in the shop suggested I try outside where there might be a better signal but after an hour repeatedly trying it didn't work so went back to the shop and was told it sometimes takes up to 24 hours. So I waited patiently until this morning when after about 40 hours it wasn't working. I called customer care and it turns out the contract wasn't put through correctly. Again everyone I spoke to was very helpful and friendly and there was virtually no waiting around in phone queues, that is so refreshing after being an Orange Pay as You Go customer where if you want to talk to anyone it costs a fortune and they are completely useless.

It turns out the contract wasn't put through correctly so the lady on the other end of the phone connected me and 5 mins later I had created a Google account. There is no need to wait 24 hours at all, once you are connected properly the process is really quick so if you have the same problem I did I would recommend calling Customer Care straight away.

Soon after I started playing with the phone the battery died (it has been on since Saturday without being charged) so I'm now giving it a full charge before investigating it further. One thing that caught me out is that the t-Mobile instructions say "2. Insert the USB connector of the AC adapter to the PC connector". The port at the bottom of the phone isn't the same as the AC adaptor so I read that to mean that there was a USB connector in the box which needed to go on the AC adaptor. There isn't you just plug it straight in and it works anyway.

Despite the problems I am really impressed with the phone, I thought the hardware would feel cheap and be rough around the edges but it isn't. The keyboard is superb, the screen is clear and bright, the touch screen is sensitive and works well, and so far the phone exceeds my expectations. I'm intrigued to see how I find it once I start using it properly. Next up I want to get SSH working.

Even if there a few issues I really do think Android could be a game-changer so I'm excited to be part of that change.

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James Gardner: Home > Blog > 2008 > Google G1 with Android on T-Mobile UK