Unofficial Review: Android Fanboy

I work with a very interesting group of individuals. We’re traditional agency misfits, and we each bring a passion to our work that sometimes borders on obsessive — but we always have great discussions. Part of that passion is fueled by the fact that we don’t always stick to our defined area of interest. We fully believe in the give and take of unsolicited opinions (and I mean that with no trace of sarcasm). How else might one formulate a real perspective if one didn’t open the office door and actually converse (or to be true to our world, IM/tweet/e-mail) once in a while? For that reason, I was totally psyched to get an e-mail from a colleague in our LA office, Fanboy from here on out, with his initial thoughts on the Google/T-Mobile/HTC G1 device.

I quickly made Fanboy promise to send me updates over the weekend as he became more familiar with the phone and its features. (When someone refers to a phone as “Android goodness,” how can you not ask for the e-mails to keep coming?) I decided to translate his thoughts into this column, like an interview without the lameness of a Q & A write-up. Think of it as an unofficial review straight from a grown man who has no problem starting an e-mail with, “I’m completely a Google fanboy.” And because Fanboy was raised right, he included not only the good but the bad as well.

In his first e-mail, roughly 36 hours into ownership, he outlined the following as “goodness”:

  • No need to sync with PC, everything goes through Google tools.

  • Shop Savvy is an amazing app…could definitely be worth the price of the phone alone and may save me 10 times the cost over time.
  • Notification system is very cool and always available, only a swipe away.
  • All apps are free, so no penalty in trying them all.
  • Browser works fairly well for most sites.
  • Phone isn’t too heavy and has a good feel to it.
  • Looking for a Starbucks all the time now, as there is free use of T-Mobile HotSpot if you download an app.

And before you claim a bias, take a look at the bad highlighted by Fanboy:

  • Gmail is treated as the royal e-mail, while all other e-mail is kind of clunky.

  • Can’t type with one hand while using the physical keyboard.
  • Limited number of apps at launch.
  • Can’t change font size or that stupid clock on main screen.
  • GPS doesn’t always find your location on Google Maps.
  • Limited number of ringtones, but there is an app that will let you turn your music into ringtones.

By Monday morning, it seems the discovery process was still in full force. The analog clock on the main window continued to be a sore spot. On the bright side, it seems Fantasy Football stats and scores have never been easier to track (even in places where phones for sure should be off and put away on a Sunday). The positive reviews also continued for the notification system as well as the discovery of a new app that acts like the alt-tab function, allowing one to alternate between program windows. True GPS functionality also made an impression. As it seemed, Fanboy really rather liked having the events/clubs/bars in his area highlighted without having to enter Zip Code or location. And finally, he stated that G1 is almost as good as wireless connection…when one can be found.

On the negative, Fanboy is a little mystified by how to convert a dialed number to the contact list and the camera doesn’t work too great unless he’s in a well-lit environment. More important, although it had only happened twice as of Monday eve, Fanboy’s G1 is prone to shutting itself off when it encounters an error.

Despite the fact that this month marked the 25th anniversary of the first commercial mobile phone call (took place in my hometown of Chicago with a Motorola DynaTAC that retailed for close to $4,000), it shouldn’t actually surprise anyone that Fanboy failed to mention one good or bad element about voice quality or call connection. Every item mentioned had to do with data, utility, form factor, or usefulness.

Devices like the G1 and the iPhone have altered the mobile landscape forever; marketers creating mobile marketing programs or working with designers to introduce applications should keep Fanboy’s opinions in mind, or they’ll end up squarely in the “bad” column.

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