Okay, I’m way late in getting my hands on a T-Mobile G1 (the crew in NY got to check it out eons ago), but I did get to spend a day with one all to myself, and by popular Twitter demand, here are some (very) brief impressions.

Hardware

  • A lot smaller than I thought it’d be. Looks great in person.
  • Solid feeling, smooth, springy hinge; the device’s matte soft-touch finish is quite nice; entire back panel lifts off to replace the battery/SIM.
  • No 3.5mm headphone jack is freaking annoying, and possibly the likeliest dealbreaker. It’s just unacceptable at this point. T-Mobile only makes this worse by not bundling an ExtUSB -> 3.5mm adapter, and HTC adds insult to injury by placing one of those annoying attached rubber covers on the USB port, too.
  • Keyboard lacks definition (read: the keys are a little too flush), but it’s still very tactile, and (obviously) way easier to type on than an iPhone. The Leno chin doesn’t get in my way, although some who’ve used it certainly feel otherwise.
  • Screen looks great, extremely responsive capacitive touch. It doesn’t feel plasticy or cheap at all.
  • 3G reception is great in SF. Was getting 550Kbps+ speeds. (By comparison, my iPhone 3G usually does 650Kbps here.)
  • MicroSDHC is hot. Worked great with an 8GB card. You should be able to buy a G1 + a 16GB card for less than a 16GB iPhone.

Software

  • Everything is a lot snappier than I expected. Animations and transitions weren’t as fleshed out as I might have liked, but nothing lagged. After Android and iPhone, it’s impossible not to see Windows Mobile and even S60 as doggish.
  • Setup is a freaking breeze, the default apps are solid. I did notice one oddity, though: even though the phone knows your Google ID, if you visit a Google app through the browser (like Reader) it doesn’t automatically log you in. Huh?
  • Browser is pretty unexciting. It’s definitely second only to mobile Safari, but isn’t really anywhere near. The view modes, re-flowing, and general usability is weak all around. Look for alternatives once the Marketplace launches, because I’m just not feeling this browser.
  • Maps app is great; compass mode (where street view moves with your real world motion) is out of this world. There’s nothing out there like it right now.
  • Didn’t download too much from Marketplace, but what I did get was pretty impressive. It should be, though, considering that right now the only apps available are the ones that won Google’s dev challenge.
  • Lack of multi-touch is annoying, but it doesn’t really ruin any experiences. I’ll miss it, but I’ll live. (Hey, you have to make sacrifices on the iPhone, too!)

If you want more, I highly suggest my man Paul’s writeup on E, he really digs in. As for me, I’m definitely, definitely excited about the G1. With a few key apps (which I’ll soon write about / unofficially request the dev community build), this could be the device that lures me from the iPhone 3G. Don’t expect everyone to be swayed, though, the G1 is certainly skewed towards the nerds right now, and doesn’t have much to compete with the iPhone’s copious sex appeal.

Oh, and big ups to my pal who hooked me up with the handset — you know who you are!