The Android phone, officially unveiled on September 23, 2008, certainly sounds futuristic and conjures visions of hundreds of thousands of people walking around with a tiny little robot in their pockets and purses. While that's still the stuff of science-fiction, the Android phone does have the potential to shift the course of an entire industry because it's the first phone to use Google's open-sourced Android operating system. While T-Mobile's G1 is the first phone to use the new system, other companies like LG, Samsung and Motorola plan to release Android-powered phones next year.

The Android phone features a large, clear 3.2 inch TFT-LCD touchscreen with 320 x 480 (HVGA) resolution, and a trackball with enter button for navigation. The hinged screen covers a slide-out keypad that's actually a full 5-row QWERTY keyboard. It also comes with a 3 megapixel camera with built-in autofocus.

The G1 offers full web browsing capabilities with one-click Internet access. If you live in a metropolitan area when you can take advantage of T-Mobile's high-speed 3G service, you can surf the Internet lightning-fast. For those not in a 3G network area, you can hook into any Wi-Fi connection and view the same webpages, including those rich with content like videos on, with slightly more loading time.

The Android phone uses Bluetooth connectivity, contains a GPS system, an SD slot, a motion sensor, even a digital compass, and weighs all of 5.57 ounces. But it's the operating system, and its means of accessing the Internet, that sets the G1 apart from the crowd. Google's open-sourced Android operating system gives anyone with the knowledge to do so free reign to create applications for the phone. No other system gives users this license. And with your G1, you'll have one-touch access to the Android Market, an online center that brings together all the applications created for Android. Users can purchase and download applications at will and even rate each application. Those who create the applications simply register, upload the application with a description, and publish it at the site for distribution. Google anticipates this to be one of the key draws of the Android phone.

The G1 comes with one-touch access to Google applications like YouTube, Google Maps, the calendar, Google Talk, and Google search, as well as free access to Gmail, Google's popular free online email service. has also partnered with the G1. The Amazon MP3 store comes pre-loaded onto the Android phone so those with a Wi-Fi connection can easily purchase and download digital music.

T-Mobile hopes there will be an Android phone under every tree this year (their goal is to sell 400,000 units by the end of the year) with the release just in time for Christmas. You can pre-order now in the US, with an anticipated shipping date of October 22. The Android phones are expected to be available in November in the UK, and in Europe in early 2009.