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HTC Killed The Physical Keyboard. Smart Move.
We're less than a week away from the launch of the supposed next "iPhone killer," the Palm Pre. The iPhone has miraculously survived a few of these attempts on its life before -- it somehow weathered the BlackBerry Storm, and before that, the G1 was going to be the device the did it in. The G1 was compelling because it was the first phone to run Google's Android operating system. But as a piece of hardware (made by HTC), it sucked. You know it, I know, even Google employees will admit it. And that's why I was at first less than thrilled when I heard Google would be giving away Android phones to everyone at the Google I/O event a few days ago. But it turns out, they weren't giving away G1s, but rather that device's successor, which they call the "Google Ion," though some know it better as the HTC Magic, or even as the "G2." And it was a brilliant move by Google, because this device is leaps and bounds better than the G1.Mostly setting aside the software itself -- the Ion runs the new "Cupcake" variety of Android, aka Android 1.5 -- the hardware that HTC has built this time around is much, much better. First of all, the thing just looks a lot nicer. It's fairly sleek, almost iPhone-like, compared to the G1, which looked like a dull black plastic brick with a protruding chin at the bottom. The Ion is smaller, it's thinner, the camera is nicer, the buttons are nicer, hell, even that stupid trackball that HTC insists on including is nicer. Most importantly though, it's much more usable as a device. And we can thank one thing for that, as well as for much of its much improved design: The removal of the physical keyboard.