HTC Dream (Google Android) Smart Phone Review

Gold Star After testing the HTC Dream Optus lent me for a few weeks I’ve given it the coveted & rarely given “Neerav’s Bought It Award” because I was looking to buy a touchscreen smartphone & it’s the best one for my needs

In the evolution of phones that I’ve owned, Nokia 1600 is like walking, Nokia 6300 is like a horse and carriage and the HTC Dream is like jumping straight to the jet age. The HTC Dream (known as T-Mobile G1 in the USA) is often compared directly with the iPhone but I think that’s silly because they appeal to completely different markets.

HTC Dream

The HTC Dream when coupled with a Seidio Innocell 2600 Extended Life Battery is like an ugly all terrain vehicle with a rough interface and extended range fuel tank whereas the Apple iPhone is like an electric car which is popular, looks beautiful but has some shortcomings like a low range, sealed non-replaceable battery.

Reasons Why I Bought HTC Dream Instead of iPhone

  • Replacing the standard battery with a 3rd party Seidio 2600mah HTC Dream Battery turns my phone into a beast that lasts 2-3 days/charge with heavy usage/day 🙂 iPhone batteries cannot be upgraded or replaced by the user
  • The slideout hardware keyboard allows me to type much faster than iPhone’s software keyboard when im using Twitter, taking notes or writing SMS
  • 3.2megapixel camera is better than the iPhone’s 2megapixel camera. Also using the SnapPhoto application enables stabilisation using the phone’s accelerometer
  • Yes the Android Marketplace for applications is much smaller than the iPhone App Store but it will grow over time and I have already found lots of interesting Android applications to use

{{virgin-mobile}}

Common Questions Answered

  • Screen – 3.2-inch TFT/LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with 320 x 480 (HVGA) resolution
  • Storage – Sells with 1GB microSD card. microSD cards up to 16GB cards have been tested to work fine.
  • 2G and 3G Frequencies – quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and also supports 2G/EDGE and 3G (1700/2100). Data speeds upto 7.2 Mbps down-link (HSDPA) and 2 Mbps up-link (HSUPA)
  • Google Integration – One-touch access and full integration with Google mobile Internet services (Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Maps™, Google Talk™, Calendar, Google™ Search etc).
  • Music/Audio/Video – plays MP4, AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, MIDI, MP3, WMA, WMV
  • Tethering – connect the charging cable to a computer/laptop and use free PDANET application to enable tethering
  • ApplicationsThere are lots of interesting Android applications to use
  • Why Doesn’t the Australian HTC Dream have Video Recording etc? – Overseas buyers have been upgraded by their mobile phone company to Android 1.5 software which includes Video recording, Stereo Bluetooth, faster web browsing, better GPS. Optus has been really slow to release new features 🙁


Phone Feature Upgrades

One of the cool things about buying new smartphones like the HTC Dream and iPhone is that new features and upgrades will be released over time to improve how the phone works

Unfortunately Australian buyers of the HTC Dream are currently being sold an older version of the phones software than is available to buyers in the UK and USA. I spoke to my PR contacts at HTC and Optus as well as other contacts in the mobile phone industry and couldn’t get the same answer twice which is very frustrating.

Some of them said people who bought the HTC Dream and are using it on the Optus network will get the updates sent to their phone over the network and it will be updated automatically. They weren’t sure whether this applied to people using the HTC Dream with Virgin Mobile which uses Optus phone towers but is run as a separate company.

Either way no one was able to confirm how soon updates would be available with estimates ranging from a few weeks after the USA to several months!! Meanwhile Australian buyers are frustrated at not being able to use new features released in the USA like video recording.

EDITOR: what happened was that everyone who bought an HTC Dream in Australia from an Optus dealer got the 44MB update file sent to their phone directly in early August 2009 regardless of which SIM they were using: Virgin Mobile, 3 Mobile, Optus etc. For Optus users it didnt count towards data cap usage. For other carriers it did count

Follow the instructions below to manually update your Optus HTC Dream.

  1. download https://android.clients.google.com/updates/signed-dream_stg-ota-150708.f39cafb4.zip
  2. copy this ZIP file to the root of your microSD card
  3. rename the ZIP file to “update.zip”
  4. reboot with CALL and HOME buttons pressed simultaneously with POWER button. which brings up the upgrade screen
  5. press ALT+L , then press ALT+S. The phone will take quite a few minutes to update itself

HTC Dream Tips

  • If you’re used to older style phones where you have to press buttons to do everything the Touchscreen may seem weird at first. After a little while you’ll wonder how you ever did without it because its such a natural way to scroll through information on screen like a newspaper article
  • To enable my WiFi 1. needed to use Application: HiddenSSID Enabler 2. needed to go to Menu-Settings->Status->Wi-Fi MAC address 3. Add that MAC Address to my ADSL2+ Modem/Router’s Wireless Client allowed MAC Address list
  • The lack of standard headphone jack is quite annoying. I had to buy a “3.5mm ADAPTER FOR T-mobile HTC G1 G-1 Phone Dream touch” from EBAY seller sitedv88 to be able to listen to music on the phone while using my own headphones
  • Remember that this is not just a phone. It does have the features of a phone but if you add up all the time people use it to surf the internet, chat with friends via instant messaging, watch videos, play music, use GPS to find where they’re going, take photos etc these will far outweigh phone time. Its a phone AND GPS AND mp3 player AND Video player AND web browser AND Video recorder AND mini computer allowing you to add extra applications to enable even more features
  • This is an expensive phone and the touchscreen can be scratched and damaged really easily so I recommend that you buy and use the InvisibleShield protective covering for the HTC Dream. See a video review below

Buying the HTC Dream in Australia

Officially the HTC Dream is only available in Australia if you signup to a contract with Optus for between $74/month ($1776 total over 24 months) to $132/month ($3168 total over 24 months)

However there are other options. Most phone stores selling Optus or HTC will sell the HTC Dream to you outright without a contract for $850-$899 (that’s what I did). This includes a proper warranty with HTC Australia and the phone is unlocked so you can use it on any phone network.

An option for technically savvy people who don’t mind getting no warranty is to buy the HTC Developer phone from Google USA for $US399 + shipping.

You will have to manually add settings for your phone network and realise that the Developer phone software is not exactly the same as the retail version. On one hand you are free to re-image the phone easily to use 3rd party firmware but on the other hand you’ll get no support from HTC Australia if you have any hardware/software issues.

Gold Star After testing the HTC Dream Optus lent me for a few weeks I’ve given it the coveted & rarely given “Neerav’s Bought It Award” because I was looking to buy a touchscreen smartphone & it’s the best one for my needs

17 thoughts on “HTC Dream (Google Android) Smart Phone Review”

  1. Sorry, but you will never convince me that anything is better than the iPhone because I am completely addicted to all of their apps 🙂

  2. Well i see that iphone is the next teenage all dream gadget. Can’t blame you for all the apps. But i believe some future newcomers may defeat those features from iphone.

  3. The reviews have been good so far for the G1, it looks like it is seriously going to compete with the iPhone. This is also the first phone that runs on Android so they will get better.

  4. love my g1 android. the battery life sucks, its been a major problem for me. I’m i not near a comp or dont have the adaptor, the phone dies out quickly. i m going 2 go look at buying this new battery!

    i find the keyboard good but the “chin” is a bit annoying on the right hand side.

    overall very pleased with my android and looking forward to the Cupcake upgrade!

  5. Is the Optus Update link listed in your post above the entire Optus Cupcake ROM? – Yes its the official OPTUS 1.5 ROM

    I moved to T-Mobile’s Cupcake because Optus was taking forever to push Cupcake OTA. Now I want to move back to Optus. Do I need to load the original Optus Android ROM first? if so do you know where I can download the original ROM from? – That is the only available link to an original OPTUS ROM. There is no link available for the original OPTUS 1.1 ROM

    Thanks, love your blog, I think I’ll invest in the 2600 battery and possibly even an invisishield based on your comments.

  6. i’m still waiting for Cupcake upgrade over the network. so thanks for the link. My mates already have it on their US phones.

    I heard the next version is called “Donut”

  7. I have the dream as well and I really like it. I don’t know if you use a rooted phone but I’m disappointed with the way Google is acting regarding the Cyanogen distribution.

  8. Bought a dream from overseas. Think I just bricked it trying to upgrade the rom! 🙁

    It won’t even start the “maintenance” mode options. Any ideas who might be able to assist in Australia (or Melbourne if possible)? Even a repair shop that specialises in the Dream? HTC Australia want nothing to do with it…

  9. JOE – That totally sucks.. But hey I suggest you head over to XDA-Developers.org Forums (specifically the Dream section) and ask if anyone can help. As always search the forums first. From memory there are a few threads on UNBRICKING, if that’s the coined term.
    Goodluck.
    I’d steer clear of repair shops in Melbourne, or anywhere in Australia (I’m from Tassie and all the shops suck here as well). You’re more hopefull of finding help online.

    EDITOR: thx for our helpful advice Samuel, I agree with the XDA-Developers.org suggestion.

  10. Oh by the way. today I just updated to CyanogenMod 4.1.999.. and I have an original Optus G1. It was hell to get ROOT but I got there in the end. 🙂

    EDITOR: im using an Optus G1 as well. With Cyanogen 4.04 firmware

    Did you upgrade to 4.1.999 from 4.04 or straight from Optus Cupcake 1.5?

  11. I had 4.0.4 and TRIED to update from there but ran into problems and only got as far as getting the Dream Developer 1.6 on… SO.. I went all the way back to humble beginnings. Flashed RC29 and made sure I redid the steps to be sure I had ROOT. Then updated the bootloader to CyanogenMods 1.4 bootloader. Then from in that I loaded Dream Dev 1.6 or whatever it’s called. Then straight away updated to CyanogenMod 4.1.99, checked that google apps worked correctly and then updated to 4.1.999.. One thing I had to change was the OPTUS APN details, it had ‘YESINTERNET’ instead of just ‘INTERNET’ in the APN settings so it wasn’t letting me access my gmail account. God I’m pretty tired if you couldn’t tell so I’ve worded all of that pretty lazily. Let me know if you get stuck and I might be able to point you in the right direction.

  12. Thanks Samuel. Looked at XDA-developers – consensus there seems that if one cannot get into the maintenance modes, then it is now an (expensive) paperweight! 🙁

    Anyway, will consider shipping it back overseas where I bought it, and see if they will consider a warranty replacement… Better a delay than no phone!

  13. Can you tell me how I can find out what version of the Android OS is on my Rogers htc Dream?
    The Home Screen is different to the the “blue” one usually seen.

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