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With Google's first Android phone, the iPhone finally got a competitor

Ten years ago, tomorrow, October 20, the T-Mobile G1 was launched in the United States. The first Android phone did not look particularly good and had a chunky start but that was not important. Even as the G1 (also known as HTC Dream outside the US) came to a mixed reception, it was clear that Android could conquer Apple's iPhone in a way that the then-known brands BlackBerry, Palm, Nokia and Windows Mobile — could not. A decade later, it has.

Today, more than 85 percent of all mobile phones worldwide are running on Android. It's an amazing performance, considering that the T-Mobile G1

/ HTC Dream let miss the airy good looks and finesse of the iPhone. An ebbing physical keyboard frustrated us with flat keys; a thick, jutting chin met the typing; Basics like a virtual keyboard and headphone jack were nowhere to be found. But this thick, heavy handset has indelibly shaped the smartphone world and brought us to where we are today. While the strength of the iPhone was its clear, simple design and intuitive layout, the very first Android phone brought personality and the ability to customize your experience.

Also, the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1 had a few key features that the iPhone of the day – the iPhone 3G does not have "iPhone OS 2" – features like a better camera and copy / insert. The power of the Google platform. Most importantly, the G1 has proven that a software company can support a successful mobile phone. Here's how that ugly duckling left its mark.

Update, October 19: This story was originally published on September 23, 2018 and was last updated on October 19.

. 1 Proof that customization is the silver bullet

The G1 is immediately different from the first iPhone as it allows a profound change and perfecting of the phone's use. For the truly ambitious, that could mean writing your own apps. But for most people, it was a good start and an important part of Androids identity to tweak the G1's home screen to their liking. Between app launcher, icon packs, wallpapers, widgets, and folders, what you saw did not have to be what you got.

The iPhone caught up later – now you can change the background of the home screen and rearrange apps into folders – but the G1 shows that adaptation in smartphones plays a role (and in a way that was much easier to use than Windows Mobile).


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It was not just people who adapted their Android phones. Android's open platform also meant that smartphone makers could leverage the basic Android operating system and build their own look with themes, launcher, and even additional apps and features.

Of course there was a drawback to an open system. Fragmentation, the elephant that always lurked in the Android room, later became a hindrance to fast Android updates, especially as manufacturers had to adjust the updates to their own skins .

The consumer appetite for the kind of customization that Android offered was obvious from the very first G1 and has made Android so successful today.

. 2 App market from the beginning


The T-Mobile G1 looks retro by today's standards.

Angela Lang / CNET

The iTunes App Store debuted just a few months before the G1, but the HTC phone still made a splash over Apple's smartphone debut in 2007, starting with its already-installed app ecosystem.

The Android Market (which later became Google Play) meant that G1 owners did not have to wait to do more with their cell phones, be it at games, in business, or just being organized. Even when it was clear that apps were the future of the phones, and G1 was ready.

The nature of the Android Market had its advantages and disadvantages. With a looser review and approval process than Apple's, the Google App Store enabled a wider choice of apps and was friendlier for developers of all abilities.

On the other hand, lower quality control meant you were more likely to bite into some app lemons and apps did not always match with every Android update.

. 3 The G1 multiplied Google's power in its pocket

As the first Android device, the T-Mobile G1 Google enabled even greater dependency on its online tools.

The strength of the iPhone was to work with other Apple hardware. The first iPhone was basically the most magical iPod Apple ever made, as it also made calls and apps that you could find on the Mac.


Android brings Google to you wherever you are.

Angela Lang / CNET

Google has chosen the opposite approach by focusing on the ecosystem of Google's already robust and ever-growing software empire. Here you had the opportunity to use the Google search in your pocket, as well as Google Maps and the Google Maps app. Yes, much of it was also available on the iPhone – Google Maps was the default iPhone mapping app until Apple created its own, initially far inferior Apple Maps in 2012 – but with Android it was all built-in and tightly integrated. If you've already used Google tools, Android was a breeze.

For Google, that meant relying on Google products at home, at work, and anywhere between them. //www.cnet.com/” height=”109″ width=”194″/>

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. 4 It is the precedent for several designs

  reminiscent of the first Google Android phone: HTC T Mobile G1

G1, meet your descendant, the Galaxy Note , [19659019] Sarah Tew / CNET

Although the first Android phone had the QWERTY keyboard and many buttons, the choice was always the plan.

G1's mission was to show buyers how a "Google phone" works, and to give app developers something to put their teeth in, making the next Android phones with a stronger base began.

Long before the Android-Curious could see cell phones from Motorola, Samsung, LG and more HTC devices. This small army of androids marched with different sized screens, dimensions, camera capabilities – you name it.

But without the first Android phone to plant the flag and test buyer interest, we may never have seen the Motorola Droid marketed as a true iPhone alternative; the HTC Evo 4G (the first 4G phone in the US); the first Samsung Galaxy Note with his S Pen; or the Google Pixel 3, which we expect on October 9th.

. 5 HTC's Magic Pave the Way for Pixel

Before the T-Mobile G1, HTC was a small Taiwanese manufacturer looking to become a global brand among giants like Samsung and Motorola.

The G1 gave HTC the opportunity to break out and build a solid relationship between the company and Google. Next came the Google Ion / T-Mobile MyTouch 3G (the second Android phone), the HTC Hero (the first CDMA Android phone) and the HTC Droid Eris ] (the first Android phone with pinch-to-zoom).

  android-t-mobile-g1-2869-007 >

The G1 next to Google Pixel 2.

Josh Miller / CNET

But with the Nexus One in 2010, HTC has reached its Android pace. A "pure" Android phone that quickly received Android updates and provided a welcome alternative to the now-common manufacturer skins. Since then, HTC has continued to produce some of the best Android devices, including the first Pixel phone in 2016. That year, Google even paid $ 1.1 billion for hiring HTC engineers for whatever comes . 19659005] 6. A true Apple rival became the only Apple rival

Perhaps the most important effect of the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1 was its role as a fiercer, iPhone rival. Google and Apple, headquartered just 11 miles apart in Silicon Valley, were two of the most powerful and exciting tech companies in the world.

  recalls the first Google Android phone: HTC T Mobile G1

Look at the chin.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Apple and Google were also brand new additions to an already crowded phone room, populated by BlackBerry, Nokia (Symbian OS) and Windows Mobile devices at the "smart" end and flip or candy bar phones the lower end , ("Feature phones" were a middle layer.)

The iPhone's popularity skyrocketed, and the veteran platforms could not keep up. But then came Android. It was new, it was new and it had the power of Google's considerable resources to counter Apple as a telephony platform of the future.

The T-Mobile G1 has also urged Apple to do better by bringing parity to later iPhones, such as a better camera, turn-by-turn cards, and … copy / paste. Google has been so successful that Android today not only competes with the iPhone – it is the only iPhone competitor.

And it all started with this funny little phone.

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