I am very unusual as a cellphone user. A girl in a cartoon once asked,
Can I borrow your phone? I have unlimited minutes on my calling plan
but I used them all up. I'm the opposite: if I use 20 minutes in a
month I'm being unusually chatty. On the other hand, when I do make or
receive a call it's important to me.
Before buying the G1, I had an AT&T GoPhone (pay as you go) account: voice USD $0.10/minute plus $1.00 on each day that you use the phone; data $0.01/kbyte; a payment of $25 expires in 90 days. Feature packages (lasting 30 days) are available that considerably reduce the cost of data. I used the data feature by connecting to my Nokia 6126 cellphone via Bluetooth (DUN) from the Nokia N810. Because of the multi-device coordination and the worry about expense, I only used this data path in unusual or emergency situations.
However, the G1 has an intrinsic data capability and I expected (correctly) that I would want that side of the phone's personality to be a pleasure to use. In fact, as this is written I have had the phone on the net for only two days and I've used more data than in an entire year via the 6126. Also, AT&T runs UMTS (3G) data in the 1900MHz band, unlike most world carriers which use 2100MHz. The G1 can do UMTS (3G) on 2100MHz and 1700MHz (T-Mobile uses both), but not 1900MHz. Thus on the AT&T net I am restricted to EDGE (2G) technology and speed. T-Mobile, as well as AT&T, has reasonable coverage in the areas I am often in. Therefore I have changed carriers.
T-Mobile offers a variety of full-service and full-price cellphone plans
that include data service. They also sell a line of smartphones collectively
SidekickTM. This is the kind of
smartphone that the G1 and
compete with directly: within their walled garden they offer
such as e-mail, contacts and calendar. Of course to use their servers you
need an actual Sidekick running their software.
Of most interest to me is the
Sidekick to Go plan. The terms are
USD $0.15 per minute for voice, and $1.00 per day for
A SIM card
costs $10.00 in stores or $6.50 online
gave me a
SIM for free).
This rate for data is almost the same as for a data add-on to a normal voice
Unlimited is limited to a few gigabytes per month. In 2008 the
Sidekick to Go plan was almost the same except you got charged
$1.00 only on days you used the phone.
The only question was, is the Sidekick truly a walled garden that forbids generic data transport? It turns out -- see below -- that at least with the data services I've tried, T-Mobile gives access to arbitrary ports on arbitrary networks. This is what I want, and so I'm going to stick with T-Mobile as my carrier.
Update: Starting about 2009-08-10, T-Mobile requires on the Sidekick plan that all web access (ports 80 and 443) be through their proxy, which does the WAP thing and also suppresses images, in line with the capabilities of the actual Sidekick. See Sidekick details here.
If I were travelling abroad I would probably not use the roaming feature;
instead I would get a
pay as you go plan from an in-country carrier.
As an example for a future trip we're possibly considering, if I visited
offers a free
per minute for voice (not exactly cheap), and an internet add-on plan on a
nonlinear scale of £0.50 per Mbyte for the first 2Mbyte in a calendar day, free
up to 15Mbyte, and £2.00 per megabyte over that.
Most people buy the T-MobileTM G1 with
T-Mobile's website or at a retail store for the subsidized price of
USD $179. T-Mobile requires
a two-year contract for voice and data. A Flex-Pay (month by month) contract
is also available for which the phone costs $399, but the phone is not
available on a
pay as you go basis. The phone is locked to T-Mobile's
SIMs and will only
accept officially signed operating system images.
If political, economic or software development issues make this plan unattractive, as in my case, or if you live outside T-Mobile's service area, you can instead become an Android Developer.
Developing on a Device page describes how to set up the phone
for development and has a link to the purchase page.
Your first step on that page will be to log in to your Google Account, or to create one. The phone will eventually insist on seeing a Gmail account, so create one (rather than a Google identity using an outside e-mail address) if you don't have one already.
You now need to sign up as an Android Developer. Begin at the Android Market Signup Page, adding a New Service to your Google Account. This will cost you USD $25.
Only if you are an Android Developer and have obtained a Google cookie by authenticating to your developer account, you can purchase one Android Dev Phone 1 at the site linked to. They are aware whether you are a developer and whether you have already bought a phone. The current price is USD $399.
This phone is unlocked, and the booter will boot custom-built operating system images (unsigned). You will need to provide a SIM, with data service authorized, from the carrier of your choice.
First, some nomenclature. The G1 makes extensive use of X-Windows RandR
(resize and rotate): when the display is closed it is in portrait orientation
while when opened it flips to landscape. Thus, which is the
top of the
display? When I say
east I mean the end of the phone where the buttons
west is the end with the speaker slot and grille;
the long side with the small camera button near the east end; and
is the other long side with the +- volume control rocker.
Front is the
face with the display and
back is the other face.
Warning: To do the following procedure you must already have a SIM card for which generic data transport is authorized. It would appear that AT&T allows all customers to use data, but the cost is exorbitant unless you have a data plan or a feature package. I was not able to determine if T-Mobile has the same policy, but I made sure my SIM was pre-authorized and paid for.
Here's a summary of the procedure:
Following along in the setup guide: The first job is to install the SIM card and battery. Actually, the first puzzle is to get the back cover off. It covers the whole back of the phone and grabs on by hooks at each end and side. Open the display by sliding it north against spring pressure. Now the hook at the west (keyboard) end is exposed. Pry it away from the keyboard in a westerly direction and it will let go. It will help to wedge a fingernail in the crack between the keyboard and the back cover. Gently persuade the cover to separate from the body. There are additional hooks at the midpoints of the long sides (e.g. near the M key on the south side) and if you wedge a fingernail in the crack nearby, the cover will let go.
The cover is made of ABS plastic. There is a plastic film inside over the backside speaker holes, so if fluid were poured on them it would not go right in. This is not to say that the case is actually waterproof, nor that every aperture is sealed; in fact, the east end of the display looks particularly vulnerable to liquid.
Hold the phone with the open back facing you and north up (writing correctly oriented). At the northeast corner is a bridge over the SIM slot with an outline of a SIM card on it. Orient the card as the outline shows and slide it under the bridge.
Similarly orient the battery (with the HTC logo up) so the contacts will connect to the phone, and slide it into place. There is a cutout for easy fingernail removal. The battery likely has little charge when shipped.
Replace the back cover. Notice the camera and the cover's viewport for it; match those up. Connect the hooks at the east end (where the SIM card is). Then close the west end; it will attach easily, unlike getting it off. Finish by pressing down the hooks on the long edges, if they didn't grab by themselves.
To charge the battery: At the east end of the phone is a plug cover. Pry it off; it is on a little tether; be gentle with it. Both the 11-pin connector and the mini-USB power connector can be accepted. (Can a mini-USB data connector function? Yes, it does, both for data and for power.) Plug the charger into mains power. The quick-start guide says to charge for 3 hours. When the phone is charging a red light appears at the north end of the speaker slot at the west end of the screen, and it changes to green when charging is complete. It also flashes green when the phone feels frisky.
Initial setup procedure:
Turn on the phone by pressing and holding the red power button, about 3 secs (northeast corner).
It vibrates and shows the Android logo. Wait for it to boot, 42 seconds.
When it tells you, touch the Android (fingerprint, not fingernail).
Read the setup info. Scroll by moving your finger upward (west) on the screen.
Hit Next. This is the screen where you create a Gmail account or sign in to an existing one. This step took me literally two days to finish. I'll skip research and failed attempts, and give the procedure that actually works.
If the screen blanks while you are taking notes, hit the
button to revive it.
In the status (top) bar do you see cellphone signal bars? If you have no bars or only one, you need to move somewhere that has a signal from your carrier.
Having signal, do you see the 3G or E logos next to the cell signal readout? If you bought the phone direct from T-Mobile this should be preconfigured, but for the developer phone or if you're using another carrier's SIM, e.g. outside the USA, you need to configure the Access Point Name (APN).
Hit the Menu button. There is only one choice: Set APN. Select that.
A list of access points is shown, identified by carrier (all
T-Mobile) and country. If you are using a valid T-Mobile
in one of the listed countries, e.g.
T-Mobile US, use the
trackball to scroll to your carrier, and click the trackball.
You might now edit items, but leave everything alone, only look.
The T-Mobile US rows with numeric suffixes (160 to 800) are for other nets bought by T-Mobile. My experience is that most of these will be accepted by the access point, but technically speaking they are discontinued.
Alternatively, see the next section for references for how to
Select the first item,
New Access Point. Fill in these
items; values are shown for the two
|Name||Descriptive text to show in the list.|
|APN||wap.cingular (just 2 components, no .com), or
isp.cingular (for GPRS)
|All others||(leave blank)|
After editing when you hit Back (the button with the backward pointing arrow), that's when the connection record is selected. Watch for about 15 seconds. A data icon (3G or E) should appear. Now you can proceed to set up your phone.
Create a Gmail account or sign in to an existing one. To buy this phone you needed to create a Google account already, but it wants specifically a Gmail account; an outside mail service won't do.
Give your Gmail address (userID@gmail.com) and password. Hit
The authorization process seems to take longer than necessary, and I had to retry twice after timeouts, but eventually it authenticates you and does whatever important things it's trying to accomplish. It definitely stores your Gmail password in the phone, so anyone with physical possession of the phone can check your Gmail.
It will sync your Google cloud PIM data (contacts, etc.) with the phone. Let it do its thing; watch for the sync icon to vanish from the status bar. For a newly created Gmail account with no content, it shut up after about 5 minutes. For political and legal reasons I'm not going to have any Google cloud PIM data, ever.
I set up my phone using the AT&T SIM, because initially I made a mistake setting up T-Mobile's APN. But I am virtually certain that I could have done the whole process with the T-Mobile Sidekick to Go SIM. Only 200kbytes of data was charged to me, including failed attempts and research on access points.
With the developer phone there is a small note in the package that tells you, when setting up, to hit Menu and either select or create a connection record as described above. The reason I didn't do that immediately was, I needed to find out what the correct APN was.
How to unlock a G1 and set it up on AT&T. Dated 2008-10-30 by Stefan Frank with comment help by Michael Oryl. Some commenters tried, but none succeeded, in getting a Sidekick SIM to work in the setup phase. But once the phone is initialized people had no trouble to get any carrier's SIM to work in it.
In the above thread, Versueno (dated 2008-03-04) figured out to hit Menu to get access to the Set APN dialog. Alternatively, Stefan Frank in the original post describes getting on GPRS by using APN = isp.cingular, and giving the user name and password shown in the table.
HowardForums wiki page about T-Mobile. It has the APNs new and old, and describes proxy effects and port restrictions (not for EDGE or UMTS).
Wikipedia list of MNCs in the USA.
The T-Mobile Settings
Configurator is at this link. Under Manufacturer, specify HTC; for
Model the G1 is not listed (duh) but pick something arbitrary, I used
Select the Internet service, and as a sub-service, Internet with
For some phones you could then fill in your mobile number and it
would send a text message with a virus in it that would set you up.
But for this phone you get a 31 step list of instructions. The key
items (adapted for G1) are:
I tried internet3.voicestream.com without success, but possibly there was some other defect when I tried. Accoring to the HowardForums wiki page, the special feature of this access point is, it gives the phone a routeable IPv4 address, while other access points use NAT. It is intended for VPNs.