G1: The Saga Continues
Which is why I was wandering around Europe with pockets bulging with three different cell phones.
I got home yesterday, went into the T-mobile store today, and confirmed the information I had gotten over the phone. Apparently, when I bought the phone and signed up for an account, their credit check found that I had an inadequate record of credit—not surprising, since I almost never borrow money, and if you do not borrow you have no record of borrowing and repaying. Without an adequate credit record, the only account they could sell me was Flexpay; presumably they are worried that someone with bad credit might run up large roaming charges and then never pay them off. I offered to provide other evidence of credit worthiness, such as the phone number of my broker at Merrill Lynch, but it became reasonably clear that T-mobile simply had no other way they were set up to use for verifying credit.
That was not the only problem. The G1 needs a data connection both for internet activity and for its GPS, which downloads maps from the net. I had been looking forward to roaming London with a GPS in my pocket. As I described in an earlier post, that was not a practical option. Roaming data costs $15/megabyte and the phone is locked, locked even against T-mobile U.K., so I cannot put in a U.K. sim card for unlimited data at a much more reasonable price. When I bought the phone I was told that I could have it unlocked by T-mobile in three months, but the person I spoke to today seemed uncertain whether they would actually be able to do so.
Another and unrelated problem that arose had to do with battery life. The G1 specs claim a standby time of 130 hours. When I tried, for my own curiosity, timing the battery life in London—WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G all turned off, and no actual use of the phone since I had no network to connect to--the results were disturbing. The phone went from fully charged to 15% and asking to be plugged in in about twelve hours.
Some web browsing turned up other people with similar problems, and a suggestion--run the phone down to zero, then fully charge it. My guess is that this does not improve the actual charging of the battery, just calibrates the phone to more accurately measure remaining battery life. Whether or not that is correct, at this point the phone appears to have a standby life of about two days. That is less than half what it is supposed to have, but at least minimally adequate for my purposes.
My other problems seem to be gradually solving themselves as more software appears. There is now a text reader (aReader), although it only handles text and seems somewhat buggy. There is a file browser (Android File Manager), although a rather limited one. The HTML browser still cannot, so far as I can tell, either save to the memory card or load off the memory card, and the only word processor is Google Docs,which still requires an internet connection, although that is supposed to change soon.
And there is a new update of the system software that has not yet appeared on my phone, but should do so soon. With luck it will improve battery life and fix a few other problems. Irritated though I am at T-mobile's refusal to let me use my phone in Europe, on the whole I'm glad I bought it.
But things would have been easier if I had waited until I got back.