People are talking about smartphones again: This time it's the T-Mobile G1, a distinctly un-Apple, un-iPhone-like slider. But, is the new "GooglePhone" a true revolution, or creative re-use?
It's been quiet since Apple's July launch of the 3G iPhone, when press releases, rumor and speculation provoked a media feeding frenzy and long lines at AT&T shops. In the aftermath, we have witnessed the "March of the iPhone Killers," which has produced some 3G versions of tried-and-true smartphone designs and some tame iPhone imitations. The lack of hype surrounding these releases derived partly because the makers of these new models don't have Apple's marketing might, but also from a deficit of new and exciting stories.
Nonetheless, the perfect storm was on the horizon, and soon the allure of Google's open-source Android OS, T-Mobile's expanded 3G network and a clever new phone design from HTC all were rolled in together as the T-Mobile G1, also known as the HTC Dream, also known as, well, The GooglePhone. And while the headlines didn-'t match Apple's, there were headlines, and customer lines, and brisk advance sales.
Certainly more will be written about the heavily cross-branded G1 and the endless possibilities of its Open Handset Alliance-leading software stack. The Open Handset Alliance is big news in itself, backed by 30-plus technology companies and dedicated to open innovation in mobile applications.
An October 21 press release from the alliance trumpeted the Android Open Source Project, with free access to all developers. "Googlephone Killers" are, apparently, already on the way. But the purpose of this article is to examine the inner workings of the G1/Dream and answer the "revolution or re-use" question on that level.
In the command center of the main circuit board sits Qualcomm's MSM7201A, a dual-core Baseband and Applications Processor running here at 528 MHz. Qualcomm got in on the media action too, with interview statements from CEO Paul Jacobs regarding his company's role in the optimization of the Android OS for the 7201A during G1/Dream product development, and a September press release confirming the same.
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Further design wins for Qualcomm include the GSM/WCDMA Transceiver (RTR6285) and Power Management IC (PMB7540). Samsung provides the Multichip Memory in the form of K5E2G1GACM, 256-MB NAND flash paired with 128-MB DDR SDRAM. This appears to be working memory for the phone; user memory comes in the form of an included 1-GB MicroSD card, upgradeable to 8-GB.