O’ HTC, Where Art Thou OPhone?

Posted by Michael Li on 23. Jun 2009

A version of the HTC Magic is coming to China, and it's all ours for the taking. Offered exclusively though China Mobile, the Wall Street Journal reported back in May that they're due to arrive this month, rebranded as the HTC OPhone.

What the "O" in OPhone means exactly is unclear, but I hope they'll just stick with calling it the "O."

Regardless, I feel the need to pay a proper farewell tribute to the Dream (G1), not just because I'm the current proud owner of one (unlocked from the US), but more so because it's still a very powerful phone with a lot of moxie.

FEATURES

One of the few touchscreen phones on the market right now with email, GPS and a full QWERTY, the G1 is loaded with ways to spend your time and wallet (for paid apps) away.

Filling your phone with apps from Android Market is a real time-killer, but if you take the time to browse through, you'll find a lot of extra productivity that can be added to your phone; one of my personal favorites is an app that makes your screen look like it's been cracked so that theoretically, it becomes less susceptible to theft.

The G1 is also stocked with WiFi, stereo Bluetooth, a 3.2-megapixel camera, and comes with a microSD card slot for up to 8 GB of media.

The lack of a 3.5-mm headphone jack is a hassle, but the mini-USB port does, however, allow for the use of earbuds with an adapter.

MAKING CALLS

My G1 runs on China Mobile and has great call quality. I've had very few dropped calls and zero background noise when on a call.

Making a call is easy: you can either press the number keys on the slide-open QWERTY, dial by using the touchscreen or speak through the voice-activated dialer. I personally opt for the touchscreen, saving the QWERTY for keypad-intensive work, such as email and short messages (SMS).

With the touchscreen, you can also scroll up and down the call log with the flick of a finger, drag-and-drop application icons on the three available home screens, and execute numerous typical phone functions.

INSIDE AND OUT

A bigger, longer-lasting battery could be a worthwhile improvement. Depending on what and how many apps you're running at one time, the G1 can quickly turn from "fully-charged" to "bone-dry" in a matter of 2-3 hours. Enabling 3G in system settings is also a surefire way to suck your battery dry, so I usually keep my settings running on 2G.

Battery life aside, Android runs blazing fast on the G1, and you'll rarely notice a delay when switching between applications or loading new contact data.

I've never really been overly excited about the G1's somewhat boxy design. With the QWERTY keypad fully extended, it takes some getting used to at first when trying to press in on the individual keys: as a result of the way the bottom of the phone pulls outward, your thumb will feel like it's being held back when trying to reach for some of the keys.

I much more prefer the slimmer, sleeker look of the iPhone.

The 320x480 resolution on the display is sharp and clean. With various apps, you can easily change the appearance of your G1 by buying/downloading new skins or themes. Customizing how unique your phone can look is a big plus with the G1.

BOTTOM LINE

With Android, Quad-band, full QWERTY, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, E-mail, a 3.2-megapixel camera, trackball, and a host of apps for the picking, the G1 is an impressive smart phone that is definitely worth considering if you can dole out the cash and make do with the odd design.

At 399 USD (2727 RMB) pre-tax without a contract from T-Mobile and an extra 24 bucks (164 RMB) for unlocking it (free if you've been a T-Mobile subscriber like this writer), it's also not particularly cheap, but the blazing-fast processing speed and a long list of features makes it a good enough contender to be classed alongside the iPhone, BlackBerry and new entrants like the Palm Pre.

Two color choices are available: black or white (mine is the latter).

Although details on the OPhone are scarce for now, one can only anticipate that it will be similar to HTC's Magic (called the myTouch 3G at T-Mobile), which brings a newer design, larger battery and more functionality.

I'll be looking out for the OPhone in the upcoming months, ready to switch over and retire the G1 into my collection.

The same goes for the Sino-CES from Jul 9-12 in Qingdao, where for one day only, I'll be wearing my green 1-up mushroom T-shirt at the show. I hope to see some familiar faces there.

About the Writer

Michael Li is an American expat living in Chaoyang. A professional in the international logistics industry, Michael enjoys writing on the latest technology trends and gadgets from both the US and China. A native of Tianjin, Michael has lived in the US for over 20 years and speaks fluent English and Chinese. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, tennis and paintball. Michael holds a BBA in Marketing Management from Mercer University.

We are very happy to have him on-board the WeLiveInBeijing columnist team.

Photo courtesy of Xin Xiangjun. With the full QWERTY keypad extended, the crisp, vibrant 320x480 HVGA screen automatically switches to landscape mode. Enabling your G1 to run at 2G speeds will save an enormous amount of battery life.

Emails are welcome. Michael can be reached at mike AT atlanta2china DOT com




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