Oct 28 AT 8:00 AM Taylor Wimberly 84 Comments

G1 owners could miss out on Android 2.0

Remember those rumors that the G1 might not be able to receive future updates? I’m the guy who caused all that mess.

Thankfully, I was wrong and T-Mobile rolled out Android 1.6 to the G1. Google was able to optimize their code and squeeze the update into the limited space of the G1.

Unfortunately, the problematic storage issues of the G1 remain (and they are not going away). I know I’m going to take some more heat for this, but I want to make sure our readers are informed and fully understand the matter at hand.

The numbers don’t lie

I will try and keep this short and simple. If you are interested in the back story you can find my original posts here and here.

  • G1 system partition: 69120K
  • T-Mobile Android 1.5: 68780k
  • T-Mobile Android 1.6: 68800k

The G1 has about 70 MB available for the operating system to be installed. Android 1.5 used 99.5% of that space and Android 1.6 was no different.

  • Emulator Android 1.6: 61216k
  • T-Mobile Android 1.6: 68800k
  • Emulator Android 2.0: 70964k
  • T-Mobile Android 2.0: ???

Above you can see the difference between the vanilla Android size and the T-Mobile Android size. The vanilla Android that you can get from the SDK and run with the emulator does not include the Google apps, T-Mobile apps, or all the ringtones and notification sizes.

Android 2.0 running in the emulator already goes over the G1 system partition limit. The T-Mobile version will likely be 7-8 MB larger. For those of you who are curious, the myTouch 3G (and most other Android phones) feature a 90 MB system partition and will have no problem with Android 2.0.

What happens next

T-Mobile is committed to supporting the G1 with future software updates. They told us so when we posted our last story on this issue.

We plan to continue working with Google to introduce future software updates to the T-Mobile G1. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate. -T-Mobile USA

With that being said, there are still huge obstacles ahead for T-Mobile. Check out this old quote from an Android engineer.

“Where the situation is really tricky is that the system partition on the US G1 was already filled to the brim with cupcake, and we were routinely flirting with build sizes that were a few dozen kB under the limit (or several MB over…), which means that even small changes to the core platform could very easily push the system size over the limit and staying under the limit took some effort”. -Jean-Baptiste Queru

As the Android operating system continues to evolve, the code base will continue to grow. The G1′s days are limited because its storage space is already maxed out.

Will Google find a way to make Android 2.0 fit on the G1? I honestly don’t know. I hope I’m wrong again, but there is no denying that Google and T-Mobile have some major hurdles in front of them to make this work.

A special note to the hackers

Yes, I know you can hack the G1 and load whatever the heck you want on it. Chances are you will be running Android 2.0 sometime next week. I know it is possible to change the partition sizes by loading a new SPL, but there is no way in hell it is extremely unlikely that T-Mobile will attempt this over the air. Flashing a new SPL also presents new problems because it erases all data on the device (which is a big no-no when it comes to everyday customers).

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • DroidDaddy

    Oh jesus…would you G1 folks just upgrade already, It’s almost 2010 godDAMN.

    • Chrees

      I think we all realize that our handset is starting to show its age, but most of us are still under contract for another year. I’m a college student, and I don’t have the funds to just shell out ~$400 on a phone when a new one comes along. :/

      • http://Website Jason 3G

        Sorry guy but have you watched the phone market lately mytouch already drop in price with contract renewal in fact I’m pissed at T-mobile for offering me the 1st hand opportunity at paying $50 more……….

      • http://martialwaking.net63.net/ Juerujin

        I have to agree with you on this. Being a college student doesn’t exactly leave you with massive amounts of free cash (unless you were rich in the first place, then this doesn’t apply.) I’d love to have a nexus one and be on the bleeding edge …. but maybe i just can’t justify spending $500 dollars on the phone (awesome as it is.) I would settle for a stripped down version of 2.0/2.1 . I mean how can that possibly be worse than being on doughnut right? The stripped down version might still have more features than 1.6.

    • Zuggy

      My sarcastic tone doesn’t come across in type so I’ll be serious.

      You’re stupid. If you signed up with T-Mobile when the G1 was released, like I and many others did, there is still a year before you don’t have to pay full price for a phone.

      I don’t have $400 to drop for a MT3G or $450 for a Moto Cliq. Plus when I buy a smartphone I expect to have it for the life of my contract, 2 years.

      • http://androidandme.com nah

        Sarcasm and being a jerk are not always the same thing. Your “being a jerk” tone comes across loud and clear. Don’t try to hide behind a sarcasm tag.

      • http://androidandme.com nah

        Darn. My comment-skimming reading comprehension is low. I thought you were the upgrade-already guy, who is a jerk, when in fact you are making the opposite point.

        Arrgh. That”s what I get for trying to act superior in an Internet fight.

    • http://www.hyperborea.org/journal/ Kelson

      You do realize the G1 has only been out for a year, right? Or do you think everyone should (and can) replace their phones on a yearly basis?

    • http://www.thefutureofblog.com Jeremiah Hoyet

      You say that like we’ve been using the G1 for over a year.

    • DrgnLady

      DroidDaddy obviously has issues with brand loyalty and reaping the rewards of blood,sweat,and tears. It was just about 1 year ago that the T-Mo and Google introduced the world to Android and it’s name was the G1. It was us, the early users of the G1 that have nursed it along in its infancy, bearing the pain and frustration of learning a new os, working tirelessly with the dedicated and driven devs, providing feedback, struggling to do what we could when we could; all the while trying to maintain enough functionality to acually USE our phones! And you would have us abandon all of that, for what, convienence? ease? G1 users aren’t scared, and we don’t give up or give in. We know if there’s a way, someone will find it, and if not, well, lets just say that the day it can no longer be supported by T-mo or Google will be the day I must “cut the cord”, root, and carry on. But one thing is for certain-I won’t be abandoning my G1, not now, not by a long shot!

      • Rev. Spaminator

        DroidDaddy was being sarcastic.

        • SuperContra

          I will die first before I let my G1 go!

      • TheBob

        Yes we can!

    • Waaah

      DroidDaddy – some of us earn our money the hard way and pay bills the hard way. Try doing that for a change.

  • Andy

    This would be a VERY big disappointment if it turned out to be true. I left it a bit late buying my G1. It’s only 6 month old but I bought it in the belief that the benefits brought by the Android O/S updates would last a lot longer than that. 1.5 and 1.6 have brought some great improvements but it looks like 2.0 is where Android really starts to take off and I’ll be very cross if my T-Mobile G1 can’t take it! I guess there has to be a point where older hardware will struggle with new software but for the G1 to have reached the end at 1.6 would be very sad.

  • http://bsegonnes.free.fr/multireader/en_multireader.html Bernard Segonnes

    Good think, Google will have to optimize as much as possible !

    That won’t hurt !

    I don’t understand why each new version is always bigger than previous one. They add, add, addd… are very rarely clean/delete code.
    Now they have a good reason :-)

    • Bo

      They have to support apps developed for previous systems. Deleting those parts would kill them.

      But I do think let devs upgrade is less painful than abandon common users.

  • http://davehong.yelp.com Dave H.

    I’m hopeful T-Mobile will find SOME way to run 2.0 on a G1 (even if they have to charge customers a fee to upgrade to make it worth their while) – only time will tell!

    • http://Website GFS38883

      Money, Money, Money going out the window again. Please make the update free! I only have so much money to do anything with my phone.

  • Tony S.

    Maybe we can use this information to get a free upgrade to the next Android-powered phone on T-Mobile.

  • Yatrik

    Wow Taylor, that fear mongering you did pre-1.6 must have gotten you guys alot of page views, because here you are again cracking your knuckles for a fresh round, pre-2.0. The great thing is that since the system partition of the G1 is indeed limited, you can monger yourself up a storm everytime a new android build is announced, even though as your own numbers show, T-mobile Android 1.6 is only 20kb larger then T-mobile 1.5. As for the SPL problem, OTA is hardly the only option for upgrade. If T-mobile offered it, those of the everyday users who cared about an OS upgrade would be content in bringing in their phones and letting a sales rep update the phone for them. This would be to T-mobile’s great advantage, because while the customer waited for his phone to be updated, the T-mobile reps can run a sales pitch train on him and try their best to get him to upgrade. However I think most of the everyday users simply don’t care. All the cellphones they had before the G1 didn’t offer any software updates at all, OTA or otherwise. Anyone who really cares can hack and updated themselves without much difficulty.

  • amgarlin

    My G1 is my second phone, and I’m 21 I had my first phone for 2+ years and i don’t plan on cutting out early on my contract. The G1 really is a great phone and I hope I can hold on to it at least for another year. And besides all that Cyanogen wont leave us G1 users hanging. Even if the system is too bulky I’m sure he can slim it down or just have a stripped down version for the G1 and a regular one for the others. I really think there are too many options to believe it cant’t be done on some level.

  • RightYouAreKen

    Does anyone know how big Cyanogen’s 4.2.2 build is? People are getting the Hero ROMs down to pretty small sizes over on XDA, so I wonder if folks will be able to get it to fit by stripping some stuff out that folks might not need (or can install to their SD card).

  • http://www.thefutureofblog.com Jeremiah Hoyet

    I don’t see 2.0 fitting on the G1, not unless they severely hinder it in terms of new features. We can only hope T-Mobile can offer us a discounted upgrade to (at the very least) the MT3G or Cliq.

    • Dharmabhum

      This! I do really like my G1 and I don’t want to be forced to get a new phone, but if T-Mo indeed cares about and wants to reward their customers who helped Android (and T-Mo business) roll forward, they really should work something out to help us upgrade.

      That being said, I’m still placing my hope in Cyanogen and the developer community to put together a G1 build. And I’m sure they will! (Thanks in advance)

  • Zuggy

    “Chances are you will be running Android 2.0 sometime next week.”

    Actually if you go over to XDA there are some hacked emulator images to run 2.0 on the G1 now, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • http://www.hyperborea.org/journal/ Kelson

    I wonder how much they could shave off by cutting support for hardware the G1 doesn’t have? Camera flash support, for instance. Not enough on its own, I’m sure, but when things are really tight, every bit helps.

  • Lazaeo

    I’m not worried about it fitting on my G1. I’m running Haykuro’s SPL. :)

  • Brett

    What everyone is failing to mention is that over the course of 1 year, the updates have increased 10 MB (based on your predictions) leaving about 12 MB left of space, so we’ll be looking at this problem in another year to 18 months I would think, based on the current trend.

    • http://www.thefutureofblog.com Jeremiah Hoyet

      Android 1.6 takes up 99.5% of the system space, as Taylor mentioned above. There’s literally just not space left.

  • Rick

    TMO shouldn’t let the lost data issue stop them from an OTA update of the SPL. I had to wipe my G1 EVERY UPDATE. Yes, RC33, Cupcake, the patch, and Donut. For 1.6, I had to because Search started force closing acore in every instance, Google Search, Maps, etc. and acore liked to force close anyways after 1.6. The TMO rep I spoke with also had to wipe, same issues. So I expect to wipe every update, and I plan ahead for it. So long as they let us take a moment, fine. I know, yes, many/most users will flip out.

    • Bo

      I’ll vote for you

  • Kevin

    Cyanogenmod 4.2.2- fast, solid, and I’ll bet he hammers out eclair / 2.0 in no time. Its not hard to do at all just follow the instructions.

  • Vineares

    I can’t see them leaving their first customers (and most of their users atm) in the dust.

    • http://gardenwife.com GW

      I wish I could say that, but the technology market is built around planned obsolescence. Who would think it would only take a little over a year for it to happen, though!

  • Alexander

    Don’t worry guys. The guys at XDA have already ported 2.0 from the SDK and have hacked it into an early ROM. So don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be able to shove taht 2.0 in our G1′s. And yeah – come on, I don’t want to change my phones every year too! However, If the Droid turns out to be a good device I might consider changing my device somewhere around Q2 2010

    • Bo

      I think Droid would be too old for you then

  • Peter

    I will gladly sacrifice apps for more space

  • Mark

    I don’t think this isn’t a problem root can solve, at least not legally. Based on recent events, I don’t think cyanogen can distribute the most excited parts of Android 2.0.

  • bob

    @Yatrik Here Here! I whole heartily agree. Lets stop beating this dead horse shall we? Frankly I stopped monitoring this site because of this speculation and fear mongering that was the result before 1.6 (only reason I’m here now is another site linked to this article and when i saw it was android and me I had to input my objection).

    I’d recommend everyone to stop following the android “news” sites that only dabble in real news on occasion while the rest of the info is just metaphorical “spaghetti” thrown at the wall in hopes for something to stick.

    No one can say one way or another if the G1 will get eclair or not except google and tmobile and neither have stated officially one way or another, all of the speculation to date from people who work on android are only bit players not actual decision makers, which we the public are the decision makers as well in part with how we vote with our dollars.

  • Usman


    Cyanogen CAN distribute Android 2.0, because it’s open source. He just has to leave out any proprietary apps from a 2.0 ROM, such as Gmail, Maps, Gtalk, etc.

    As others have said… we’ll have 2.0, or at least parts of it, very soon. ;)

    • Mark

      Isn’t the upgraded google maps one of the killer features of 2.0?

    • http://www.nexsoftware.net nEx.Software

      Android 2.0 is NOT open source….


      At least not yet.

      • http://garagesaletech.blogspot.com Mike Seidle

        Lots of silly speculation here. for @nEx.Software, for your reference the git branches for 2.0 are at:


        So, yes Android 2 is still open source. Second, it’s a bold assumption that 2.0 will not fit on a G-1.

        • Liam Alford

          I repo sync the master branch quite regularly, are you saying that it does have Android 2.0 on it? Done it today and mine still reports 1.6 (Donut)

          Unless i’m missing something, the manifest link above does not show that the Eclair branch has been merged, hence it looks like its not publicly available yet.

  • http://blogs.hiveworks.com/distraction/ Distraction

    A T-Mobile Forum mod has stated that the G1 will get 2.0.
    Much ado about nothing.

    • Mike

      Can you point us to the link where this claim was made? Thx.

      • http://www.nexsoftware.net Justin Shapcott

        The claim was made here…

        But, I’m not going to hold my breath for what a Forum Mod has to say about technical issues like this. If it comes great, if it doesn’t… I have a MyTouch 3G and a CLIQ to fall back on…

        • http://www.nexsoftware.net Justin Shapcott

          Sorry that links to one message in the topic, which isn’t the exact one but it’s about three posts down. Of course then that same mod goes on later to say that it will likely get a highly modified version of 2.0 which will remove any extra bits that the G1 can’t use, won’t use, or isn’t deemed necessary (paraphrased).

  • Ramon

    looks like my g1 will get 2.0!! ..next question..when?

  • Peter Mikhail

    according to the t-mobile android mod its coming to the g1 ….period http://forums.t-mobile.com/tmbl/board/message?board.id=AndroidDev&thread.id=23893

  • Rev. Spaminator

    I’m less concerned about space than performance. From 1.1 that came with the phone to the version I’m running now, there has been lots of perf. improvements. This won’t always be the case. Somewhere between releases we expect new and cool enhancements and those always take a few extra cycles here and there. No matter how much optimizing you do, you can only add so much without slowing things down.

  • Oscar

    The G1 was the begining and I’ll be with it until its end! It was our feedback that made Android what it is now and I’m not going to just give up on it.

  • http://www.symbiosis60.com Maciek

    My recommendation would be to get rid of ALL but one ringtone and wallpapers. That would save some space. Re-design the OS in such a way that after the upgrade a user would be presented with a wizard which would allow to download the ringtones or wallpapers that the user would choose. The plus of such a config would be that those things would then be saved to the memory card instead of being permanently baked into ROM and thus saving even more space.

  • http://www.bit-smacker.com Bit-Smacker

    Since buying my G1 on the first day of release, I’ve been complaining about the horribly lacking Bluetooth support — hoping for an eventual upgrade. Now that they appear to have finally added it via Android 2.0, it won’t load on my G1?!?

    That’s crap. I’m pissed, and I’m not going to reward their customer abandonment with the purchase of a new model unless a serious “upgrade” incentive is offered.

  • krys2fur

    I wondered why they would come out with 2.0 so fast after 1.6. Maybe Google sees the limitations of G1 and wanted to optimize and make sure 2.0 will be backward compatible with 1.6. So, any app should run on both as long as it doesn’t take advantage of 2.0 specific features. We might see another 1.# update later on just for G1 users. And then again they might offer a huge discount to upgrade. Just my thoughts.

  • Chad

    This was just very poor planning on the part of Google and T-Mobile. They should’ve made a drive large enough to handle updates for more than just a year after the release of the phone! The G1 is not a cheap phone and you’re pretty much stuck with it for 2 years. At least make a phone where the updates last for the period of the contract that the customer is signing! Anyway, I do hope 2.0 comes to the G1. If not then T-Mobile and Google need to show some good customer relations and offer their customers something since their phones will be obsolete just a year after hitting the market!

    • kris

      or atleast allow to keep insurance and warrenty when G1 users root there phones. or google can create there own custom firmware for G1 users and offer updates kinda like cyanogen but legit from android and google.. its just an idea so please no insults.

  • dj

    im good i have a ext3 partition on my sdcard which im currently running “KiNgxKxROM Sense Hybrid Version 2.1″..people wit g1 should really decide on rooting there phone..”BUT READ INFORMATION ABOUT ROOTING FIRST RATHER THEN JUS DOIN IT WITHOUT ANY KNOWLEDGE PLEASE”

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  • nobody

    Oh, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

    This “analysis” is full of crap.
    There is NO REASON why any particular future version can’t be brought in to existing hardware.

    1) The assumption that “2.0″ will be bigger is nonsense.
    a) There are tons of optimizations that can be done to reduce the size of files.
    b) There are multiple locations where files can be installed to — the /system partition is only one option.
    c) There is a whole bunch of crap that can actually be *left out* to be installed as *regular applications*…. i.e. MAPS updates are typically published to the market. Just leave out MAPS (or other components) and have them install from market.

    2) The emulator system image is *for the emulator* — not necessarily reflective of real system images.

  • Florian

    I came across a story on the Austrian news today: http://futurezone.orf.at/stories/1631102/ (it’s German, but I’m sure you could run it through Google Translator)

    The important thing here is a short paragraph citing a T-Mobile Austria spokesperson concerning Android 2.0 and the G1: “We’re expecting the software to be released in Q4 2009″.
    There you have it, Android 2 on the G1 seems to be a reality, even soon :)

  • whatdahek

    In a time were initial memory in technical equipment is almost no real dollars, why the hell would HTC just put 70 megs of memory??? HTC and other smart phone manufacturers need to set up a standard specifications for phones to last 2 to 3 years. A couple hundred megs of internal memory is so freaking easy. I will live with my G1 but when it comes to the upgrade you better believe i am getting the android with the most internal memory. Anyone create a Hardware upgrade yet????????????

  • http://Website Dan P

    So here is the question ,…. when are they going to make a version that can compare / fight the iphone 3gs and others for storage capacity ,…. i meen yeah you can get 16
    GB or 32GB Micro sd cards but it has nothing to do with operating system or any of that where the iphon uses the same space for every thing ,…. how cool would it be to have virtually unlimited app storage without hindering performance.

    dont get me wrong i love my G1, i just wish in its development they left room for a hardware upgrade, or something along those lines,…… * Disappointing *

  • upset

    This is bull shit I have a g1 and I will not be told that I will not be getting the update to 2.0 and I will not have t mobile for much longer if I do not get the update then everyone I know that has this phone will be getting rid of it and as will i

    • http://Website ShellUser

      The problem is: Change to what after getting rid of it?

      I really like Android but I heavily use the keyboard (especially for ConnectBot) and every Android device that was released after the G1 sucks in terms of keyboard usability (either it has no physical keyboard or the physical keyboard isn’t really usable because of nonexistent pressure points e.g.)

  • http://Website Alex

    It hink the g1 could take it my g1 has 70megs free so if they can get it down to that or lower it would work

  • http://Website Ani

    Its end of 2009 and I dont see 2.0 coming onto G1.. I think I ma never gonna get it.. I think will wait for Sony Ericsson X10 before I get this phone out.

  • Eric

    The G1 was the first Android device ever created. If wasn’t for this phone and it’s success there wouldn’t be any other Android devices(this phone is getting treated like the red headed stepchild) Every update that comes out should have a G1 version. Because people that early adapted to Android and keep their G1′s are showing loyalty to the 1ST. Plus the way phones are coming out the next one i’d buy would be obsolete in less than 6 months. Any and all updates should be able to be stored to SD card and applied at your leisure(my G1 will be the only phone I own until it completely dies? How’s that for LOYALTY!!!!!!!!!

  • that guy

    I think they sould give you the main parts of the update (browser, phone, messaging, camera, ect.) And have the less important things like the youtube app (not the ability to play mobile videos) should be separate from the os like they did for google maps for 1.6

  • http://Website matt

    I just spoke to tmobile customer service rep and have been very unpleased with tmobile as of late. I specifically asked questions concerning anriod 2.0 and the mytouch. All she kept saying is the word “undetermined” and kept copying and pasting. If you want to android phone I’d recommend switching to Verizon as “undetermined” to me means they don’t give a [email protected] Google may want to drop tmobile and stick with companies where there customer service department may know more than the word “undetermined”.

  • http://Website Matt Part Two

    I recently have been in contact with T-Mobile over two issues
    1) Why would I add a “Corporate Discount” to my phone and have my bill higher (was $94, added a 15% “discount” now its $116?
    A) From T-Mobile — “it will work out in the end”
    2) When will 2.0 be released on my android my touch phone?
    A) Its “undetermined”
    When will customer service come back to T-Mobile? Three years ago, they’d research; they’d provide me with answers. I know there is more information then “undetermined” at least I’d like to hear its coming soon hopefully by xxx day.
    As of right now I understand why businesses don’t move towards T-Mobile because of the lack of support.
    If anyone wants to email me and tell me I am wrong feel free to: [email protected]

    This post will be published everywhere…

  • http://Website Kevin

    Matt blaming Tmobile for not having the info on updates that Google is responsible is silly at best. It would be the same as me calling Tmobile complaining about my wife’s Dash (Windows Mobile) updates.
    This is solely in Google’s lap since it is their operating system. Recently Google announced they would be trying to push an officall apps to sd application so it may be they want to finish that (making more room on the system) for 2.0 to roll out.

  • http://Website Eugene

    I want 2.0 on my G1 :)
    Who else?

  • http://Website just some dude

    I like that last line in the artical that says
    “Flashing a new SPL also presents new problems because it erases all data on the device (which is a big no-no when it comes to everyday customers”

    Thats like the first thing customer reps ask you to do, is to reset the phone, they are useless.

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  • http://Website Kelly

    I think it’s very possible to fit 2.0 by installing a boot manager to the system partition and installing the actual OS on your SD card or in another partition. For example, puppylinux can be installed to any partition on a drive. You then install GRUB into the MBR on the system partition and viola! you can boot an OS image from any partition.

  • http://Website panib

    There are many users that don’t even risk root if they’re given a step by step installation tutorial.

    Info fm. T-Mobile Germany – there will definitely be no update to 2.0 or 2.1 ever. They just plan some minor corrections with 1.6 .

    I don’t have the technical background. Can anybody tell me, how ‘ thinking ‘ developers can build a phone that has 70 MB available for the OS to start with and a system partition of 68.8 MB ?

    This,to me, looks not only stupid but cynical since these guys will have known that there is no ‘space’ for future updates :-(((

    Expuse my limited English please, am German.

  • http://Website panib

    Me again … Last line excuse …

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