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Engadget reviews first Android handset

While the rest of us have to wait until October 22 to get the first Android phone (though rumors are that users that pre-ordered for mail delivery might get them early), our lucky colleagues over at Engadget have been using and evaluating the G1 for several days. The hardware portion of the review is here, but since this is Download Squad, we're really intereste in the software.

Here are the highlights:

  • Interface is slick and usable. Engadget describes the set-up process as "utterly painless" -- just enter in your Google account username and password and go! If you don't have a Google account, you can create one on the phone.
  • Google Contacts still suck, but at least they try to suck less on Android. Seriously Google, create a better address book!
  • The built-in GMail client totally rocks. Our own Grant Robertson said the same thing to me earlier this week (he got to play with one at a T-Mo store). It does real GMail push that seems to be as fast as what BlackBerry has cooked up (and BlackBerry is FAST).
  • If you don't use a Google e-mail account, the experience is less awesome. Here's a tip -- if you are considering getting an Android phone and you use a personal domain for e-mail, go ahead and set-up a free Google Apps account for that domain. You can still use a regular mail program (Exchange, Outlook, Mail.app, Thunderbird), but you can take advantage of the awesome Google web interface on your phone. If you use a corporate e-mail account, forwarding to a GMail set-up might be your best bet.
  • The Amazon.com MP3 Store is cool, but it isn't the "killer" app. You can also only purchase/download files over Wi-Fi, not over 3G. I'm absolutely positive this was because downloading the music over the 3G network would cut into T-Mo's ringtone sales and add another pricing layer.
  • The YouTube app is about the same as the iPhone app, for good and for bad.
  • When you flip the phone to display stuff in landscape mode and then flip back to portrait, the phone will reposition everything automatically. So if you are using the built-in QWERTY keyboard and then decide to slide the keyboard back in and use the phone vertically, everything is automatically adjusted.
  • Copy and paste exists!
  • The notification system is top-notch
Read the whole review here! While Download Squad wasn't able to get early review devices, we will be doing a full software and Android Marketplace run-down as soon as the G1 officially launches next week.

Tags: android, gmail, gmail-push, google, t-mobile g1, T-mobileG1

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