Samsung I7500 clears FCC with T-Mobile USA 3G

Going by the feedback in the Android Community forums, Samsung's I7500 is one eagerly anticipated cellphone.  The good news is that the AMOLED touchscreen smartphone has cleared the FCC, complete with support for T-Mobile's 1700MHz 3G network. While the FCC report contains no new information regarding the I7500 beyond what Samsung themselves told us at the handset's launch, it's nonetheless good to see that a US release is pretty much confirmed.  Ostensibly similar to the HTC Magic, in that it lacks a hardware keyboard, the I7500 brings with it a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, plus 8GB of onboard storage. What's still unclear is when the I7500 will reach the US market.  T-Mobile USA have made no official comment as to whether they will be offering the I7500, and so far only O2 in Europe have confirmed that they will be launching the smartphone, at an unspecified date over the summer. [via PhoneScoop - thanks ghettoyungin718!]

Vodafone HTC Magic review

For a long time now, Android and the T-Mobile G1 have been pretty much synonymous, defining not only form-factor but functionality of what makes a "Google Phone".  Gatecrashing that arrangement comes the HTC Magic, second Android smartphone to reach the market and the slimmer, prettier sibling to the G1, bringing with it the latest iteration of the Google OS, version 1.5 "Cupcake".  Expectations for both hardware and software have been huge; read on for the Android Community opinion. In the box there's the Magic itself, a 1,340mAh battery, 2GB microSD card, AC adapter, USB cable, wired stereo headset, hands-free adapter (for using your own 3.5mm headphones) and a leather-effect pouch.  The Magic measures 113 x 55.56 x 13.65 mm (4.45 x 2.19 x 0.54 inches) and weighs 116g (4.09oz) with the battery; that makes it shorter, slightly narrower and - most importantly - thinner than the T-Mobile G1, as well as lighter. The reason for that reduction is the absence of a hardware keyboard, of course, though in keeping with Google's Android requirements there are a fair few buttons on the curved front panel.  As well as the trackball (which lights up when messages are received) there's a Home key, Menu key, back and search, together with call and end buttons.  As for that curve, it's less pronounced than the G1's jutting chin, and cups the ball of the thumb nicely.  The only other hardware control is the volume rocker, a narrow strip on the top left-hand side. Primary navigation, then, is done via the 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, ostensibly the same as on the G1.  It's a bright and responsive panel, evenly backlit, and the size and shape of the Magic now makes it far more reasonable to use the phone one-handed. Since there's no hardware keyboard, the Magic couldn't avoid but come with Android OS 1.5 Cupcake.  That update, preloaded on all Magic handsets, brings with it an on-screen QWERTY keyboard, usable in both portrait and landscape orientations.  Google have obviously learned from other on-screen keyboards in circulation, as the most-requested features are in place.  Tapping a button pops up a preview of that letter, visible above your thumb or finger, and you can change your selection by dragging across to another key.  As you type, the Magic suggests words in a scrolling bar above the keyboard; it does a decent job of avoiding misspellings, but unwanted corrections are easily amended by hitting the backspace key and choosing the word as-entered. Upright, it's possible to type with reasonable accuracy with one-hand, making Android far more usable when walking or holding a bag.  In landscape orientation, two-handed thumb typing - cradling the Magic in your fingers - is straightforward, and we're pleased to see the accelerometer-based screen rotation extended to many more apps throughout the platform (although it only rotates 90-degrees to the left, not to the right).  The homescreen and the dialer don't support rotation, but other than that it's pretty much spread throughout the OS.  If the inbuilt keyboard isn't to your liking, third-party versions can be downloaded via the Android Market; there are already more than a hundred to choose from. The next significant addition from Cupcake is in the Magic's imaging abilities.  The same 3.2-megapixel autofocus camera is on offer - HTC claim to have tweaked the software processing, but there's still no flash or even an LED light - but now it supports video capture and playback.  Sharing media is also made quicker, thanks to integration with YouTube and Picasa.  Enter your login details for an account with either service, and the "Share" option in the gallery allows one-touch uploads in addition to sending image/video attachments via email or MMS.  Other apps can also add their own media sharing options to that list; Twitter client Twidroid, for instance, lets you instantly create a new photo tweet from a shot you've just taken. Cupcake speeds up the camera load-time, and both shutter delay and saving time are reduced, but of most interest will be the video recording.  Shooting video is pretty much the same as taking photos - hit the record button to stop and start, tap the thumbnail to review - with the Magic recording in 3GPP format.  Quality is reasonable for a cellphone - we'll have a follow-up post with sample video and images - but won't be replacing any standalone camcorders or even the video mode on a point-and-shoot camera.  As on the G1, outdoor scenes with plenty of light produce the best results, both for stills and video.  Nonetheless, it's good to see the facility finally officially added to Android. Slightly less obvious, but no less welcome, OS 1.5 brings with it a new WebKit browser engine and JavaScript engine, reducing page render times.  What's not included is the trick circular zoom control that showed up in Cupcake preview videos; instead, since Google still won't enable multitouch support in Android, it's down to the same zoom in/out controls as before.  These work, but we'd rather have the zoom scroll bar in more recent builds of Opera Mobile, that permits more granular control over magnification level.  The address bar has now merged with the search bar, offering Google search results, entries from the history and new address entry in one place, a system which works well.  There's also a text search function, which flags up matches as you type rather than waiting for you to hit enter. In all, the browser is less impressive than Mobile Safari on the iPhone; we particularly miss the way you can double tap on a block of text, and have the page perfectly render to fit it on-screen.  The Magic almost achieves that, but there's still scrolling to be done.  Where it steps ahead of the iPhone, though, is in handling bookmarks: as well as instantly bookmarking the current page, you can scroll through your most-viewed pages and instantly add them to your bookmark list.  Finally there's a history tab, which again allows you to bookmark individual entries.  Everything is straightforward and finger-friendly: other platforms could learn a lot from Google's bookmarking system. Android isn't perfect, though.  Cupcake may add plenty of features, but it still lacks out-of-the-box Microsoft Exchange support (only IMAP and POP3 are offered) and we're not impressed by how tricky hooking up a USB connection to a PC or Mac can be.  Given how Windows Mobile HTC devices can simply show up as mass storage devices when plugged in via USB, we hoped the Magic would offer the same - instead, it took some messing with drivers and general coaxing to establish a connection.  Another obvious frustration is the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, with HTC using their standard Ext-USB port which combines mini-USB connectivity and audio in one.  The supplied wired headset won't win any awards for musical clarity, but HTC tell us they're working with Vodafone to get adapters - which allow you to plug 3.5mm headphones into a microphone/call-answer-button dongle - included with retail packages. Alternatively, of course, there's Bluetooth A2DP, another fresh introduction courtesy of Android OS 1.5.  This worked well with the test headphones we tried it with, as did more traditional Bluetooth connections to standard headsets.  Bluetooth pairing is simple, and can be turned on and off independently of WiFi.  Similarly, the Magic's WiFi b/g connection is quick to identify new networks and re-found previous ones with no hassles. Call quality in general proved high, with no noticeable echo.  The Magic had no problem finding and keeping hold of a 3G signal in London, and we experienced no dropped calls.  It's worth noting that there's no front-facing camera for video-calls, not that Android seemingly supports it right now, but future upgrades that might introduce the facility won't be much use on the Magic. HTC rate the Magic's battery for up to 400 minutes of WCDMA talktime (450 of GSM) and up to 660hrs of WCDMA standby (420 of GSM).  With heavy use - surfing over 3G and WiFi, checking email and Twittering, texting and calling - we ran through a full charge in a day, which puts the Magic on a par with other smartphones (and better than the iPhone, which we can drain even faster with the same usage).  In a more regular routine we reckon every-other-day charges would be sufficient. Use of the Magic's media functionality will obviously have an impact on battery life, and the phone makes for a reasonable PMP.  Audio is handled by a standalone app, with options to browse by artist, album, song or playlist; once a track is playing, there's a display of album art, plus shuffle and add-to-playlist controls, as well as ID3 tags.  The menu button calls up options to set the track as a ringtone, delete it, or kick off a "party shuffle" which seemingly uses some sort of musical heuristics to throw together compatible songs.  It's all serviceable and pretty flexible, but there's none of the gloss of an iPod touch, just layers of lists to scroll and tap through.  Tracks will continue to play in the background while you use other apps, and the currently-playing song is listed in the pull-down status bar.  An optional widget can be dropped onto the homescreen with basic play/pause and ID3 control. Video files, meanwhile, are accessed through the gallery, where they show up in a separate category to images.  It's a pretty basic setup, more so than the audio app, but functional all the same.  More usable is the dedicated YouTube app, which - like HTC's program for its Windows Mobile phones - gives access to categories, favorites, searches and the currently most-popular clips.  It's also possible to upload your own videos directly from this YouTube app (including signing up to a completely new user account if you don't already have one) but, like when watching footage, it's worth finding a WiFi connection rather than steaming through your 3G data allowance. With the addition of paid applications, the Android Market is growing in content; though it may languish far behind the many thousands of titles available through Apple's App Store, there's still a decent range, many of which are free.  First-time users will probably want to pick up one of the IM clients - the Magic only comes preloaded with a Google Talk app - and then take a look at the games, which are conspicuous by their absence in its untinkered-with state.  Cupcake adds the background ability for an app to check with Android whether the device it's being installed on has the necessary hardware functionality for it to run: if, say, the phone lacked GPS then software that require that feature wouldn't install.  That may not be such a big deal on the Magic, which has basically the same hardware as the G1 and, as such, existing software should have no problems on that front, but as more Android devices are released it will make future installs less confusing.  Paired with the clear warnings about what functionality - WiFi, GPS, 3G access - an app will have access to, users have just about all the info they can handle to avoid installing malware. Something we're seeing more of with Android is location-aware software, and Google don't hold back on their own functionality.  The Magic comes ready for Google Latitude access in its maps app, offering the ability to share your geographical location with those people you've approved, and similarly see them on the map.  There's also the standard satellite and traffic view options, together with Street View.  Optionally you can switch on the Magic's internal compass and use it to pan Street View in accordance with your own physical orientation.  Directions tap into the Magic's contacts, offering either manual input or pulling addresses from those people you already have records for, but there's still no turn-by-turn guidance, only a list and a map view as you'd have on the desktop version of Google Maps. Newcomers to the HTC Magic won't necessarily know anything about Cupcake.  They may never have used a T-Mobile G1, not really know much about Google's work on Android.  The good news is that the compromises and allowances the G1 demanded are no longer present in the Magic.  Occasions where you're expected to wait patiently for a firmware upgrade, or rely on third-party apps for otherwise common functionality (such as video playback) are addressed by Cupcake, and happily the G1 early-adopters will have those gaps filled too as OS 1.5 filters out. What all that means is that the HTC Magic crosses the important boundary from geek's phone to mainstream phone.  Build quality is decent, with the handset looking slick in either gloss white or black, and Android has already matured into a usable, straightforward OS with plenty of flexibility.  The Magic still offers the openness that Apple's iPhone lacks, but now that's an optional ethos rather than a necessity to get the same functionality that feature-phones offer from the get-go.  With the Samsung I7500 around the corner, and Android handsets from other manufacturers tipped as imminent, 2009 looks to be the year that Google's mobile platform really builds its momentum.  Those new entrants will find a strong contender in the shape of the HTC Magic, though, and for now it's the Android smartphone to beat. Vodafone HTC Magic unboxing: [vms cef6730f9fd03c8125ca] HTC Magic Android OS 1.5 Cupcake Demo: [vms 1e61cb8dd3612f26d5ec] [gallery id="3374"]

HTC Magic phone dressed up in Black and going on sale in Taiwan for $640 USD

Folks across the pond will have the luxury to purchase the hot new HTC Magic on May 15th for $640 USD without a contract.  This black version going on sale in Taiwan is almost identical to the one available for Vodafone customers.  The left and right hand side is covered in a darker shade of red. If anyone can read Taiwanese/Kanji, feel free to help translate the article on ePrice the rest of the community.

Android to see 900% growth in 2009 claim analysts

Android smartphone shipments are predicted to grow 900-percent in 2009, according to industry observers Strategy Analytics.  They cite increased carrier, vendor and developer support as key motivators for growth, and expect Android to become "a top-tier player in smartphones over the next two to three years."
"The Android mobile operating system from Google gained early traction in the US in the second half of 2008 and it is gradually spreading its presence into Europe and Asia during 2009. Android is expanding from a low base and it is consequently outgrowing the iPhone OS from Apple, which we estimate will grow at a relatively lower 79% annually in 2009" Tom Kang, senior analyst, Strategy Analytics
Among its appeal is the low-cost licensing model and "semi-open-source structure", Strategy Analytics' director Neil Mawston claims, together with Google's "support for cloud services."  From Android's first announcement, these have been key motivators; now, in the current economic climate, reducing licensing payments and software development time are even more attractive to device manufacturers and carriers alike. Android recently scored a coup in the US, with the T-Mobile G1 - the only handset using the platform officially available in the country - took one of the top five places in the best-selling smartphones for Q1 2009.  Meanwhile the second Android device, the HTC Magic, launched in Europe in the past few weeks.

Samsung Spica & Bigfoot coming Q3 2009?

Hot on the heels of Samsung's I7500 Android phone comes this pair, the Samsung Spica, on the left, and the Samsung Bigfoot, on the right.  Both running Google's Android platform, only the next-gen version currently known as Android OS 2.0 "Donut", they're expected to drop in Q3 2009. The Spica is a mass market handset with triband HSDPA (900/1900/2100) and a 3-megapixel autofocus camera, and will slot in beneath the Samsung I7500.  Onboard storage is 100MB, plus a microSD card, and there's WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 and GPS, plus an accelerometer and digital compass.  The Spica's touchscreen display is a 3-inch WQVGA LCD, and the whole thing measures 111.5 x 52.6 x 12.9 mm. As for the Samsung Bigfoot, that has the same specifications as the Spica but throws in HSDPA (900/1700/2100) for T-Mobile USA 3G network compatibility.  It also gains some girth - 16.3mm thick, in fact - thanks to the slide-out QWERTY keyboard.  While it's too early to say, it does rather resemble the tiny render of the T-Mobile G1 v2 spotted in the carrier's leaked roadmap. Samsung are apparently giving the Spica a new version of their TouchWiz GUI, rather than leaving the handset as a standard Android handset.  There's also word that Android OS 2.0 "Donut" will support WVGA displays and have a number of new features that existing Android devices won't support (or even have an upgrade option for), the speculation being that handset manufacturers have been waiting for this new version for their first Android foray. [gallery] [via Unwired View]

Second video demo of the Samsung i7500 Android phone

An event hosted by Samsung Singapore gave birth to a second hands-on video demo of the Samsung i7500 Android phone. If you’ve been lusting over Sammy’s latest and greatest Android phone, here’s one video I recommend watching – until Android Community get our own review unit in for a more in-depth look.

Android Community Week in Review: Week 19 2009

Biggest news this week has been the arrival of the Vodafone HTC Magic at Android Community, with an unboxing video and initial hands-on gallery here.  The smartphone is the second to reach the market running Google's Android OS, and according to leaks will show up on T-Mobile USA as the myTouch 3G.  T-Mobile USA will be hoping for strong sales from the handset, too, after the performance of the G1.  That's taken fifth place in the best-selling smartphones in the USA during Q1 2009, beat only by the iPhone 3G and a trio of BlackBerry devices.  It's a confidence in both devices shared by Rogers Wireless, who are planning to offer the HTC Dream (aka G1) and HTC Magic in Canada from June 2nd; meanwhile, slightly further afield, NTT DoCoMo are tipped to be offering the Magic in Japan as the HT-03A. The Magic comes preloaded with Android OS 1.5 "Cupcake", and so it's only fair that G1 owners get the same software update.  T-Mobile USA have finally confirmed that they will be rolling out the latest firmware from the end of this coming week, in an upgrade plan expected to run through to the end of May.  They may be hoping that distracts us from the Android leaks this week: firstly, their own device roadmap which pegs the G1 v.2 and Samsung Houdini as arriving later in 2009, and secondly an in-the-wild sighting of the HTC Hero. Stay with Android Community this coming week for the Vodafone HTC Magic review and more video content!

Vodafone HTC Magic video unboxing!

Move over G1 - the HTC Magic has landed, and it's every bit the slick, sleek Android smartphone we've been secretly wishing for.  HTC and Vodafone delivered the Magic over to us this morning, and we've promptly unboxed the whole thing on video for your viewing-pleasure. Of course, since the HTC Magic comes preloaded with Android OS 1.5 "Cupcake", which we know only a limited number of you have had access to, we couldn't resist the opportunity to boot up the Magic and take a quick look at its video capture and on-screen keyboard.  These are just snapshot looks, remember; we'll have plenty more video demos with the HTC Magic over the next few days. First impressions are very positive; the Magic feels much better in the hand than the G1, slim and light, and the 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen is bright and responsive.  As ever, we're open to suggestions about what you'd like to know, so leave your requests in the comments and we'll try to answer them in our full review.  Until then, enjoy the unboxing video! [vms cef6730f9fd03c8125ca] [gallery]

Rogers Wireless bringing HTC Dream & Magic to Canada

Rogers Wireless have announced that they will be offering the HTC Dream (aka T-Mobile G1) and the HTC Magic in the Canadian market as of June 2nd.  The two Android smartphones will be the first to run the Google open-source OS to be official on-sale through a carrier in Canada. Rogers have been economical with their press release, basically confirming that each of the handsets are coming, but there's not much we don't already know about the Dream and Magic.  The former has been on sale as the T-Mobile G1 for some time now, and has a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen that slides away to reveal a hardware QWERTY keyboard.  Meanwhile the Magic has roughly the same specifications as the Dream, only lacking the hardware keyboard; it has recently gone on sale in Europe with carrier Vodafone. For now prices and tariffs are unknown, but it's likely that the carrier will offer an unlimited data package for the 3G smartphones.  It's possible to sign up for more information as it's released here. Press Release:
Canadians to Get Android-Powered Smartphones: Rogers Wireless prepares for the Mobile Revolution with the exclusive Canadian launch of the HTC Dream and HTC Magic TORONTO, May 7 /CNW/ - Rogers Wireless today announced the exclusive Canadian launch in June 2009 of the HTC Dream(TM) and HTC Magic(TM) smartphones, the first cellphones in Canada powered by the Android platform, allowing for fast and easy access to a wide range of Google(TM) mobile services, including Google Search(TM), Google Maps(TM), Gmail(TM) and more. “Who else but Rogers would be the first carrier to offer Canadians the first chance to join the mobile revolution with a choice of not one, but two, handsets powered by the Android platform?”, said John Boynton, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Rogers Wireless. “The HTC Magic offers a responsive touch screen and the HTC Dream delivers both a touch screen and a slide out QWERTY keyboard. Both devices offer outstanding wireless internet search capabilities and a full suite of applications that run two times faster on Canada’s fastest mobile network.” Rogers will release details of the launch soon. In the meantime, customers can sign up for more information at rogers.com/revolution.
[via BGR]

NTT DoCoMo’s first Android phone is HT-03A aka HTC Magic

Android will be spreading its reach to Japan soon, as the HTC Magic lands on carrier NTT DoCoMo with the new name HT-03A.  The touchscreen handset will be the first to use the Android OS in Japan. NTT DoCoMo confirmed that they were planning on introducing an Android device last November, following rumors that they would be working with South Korean carrier KT Fretel.  NTT DoCoMo is already a member of the Open Handset Alliance. It's unclear offhand whether the HT-03A will remain a 3G GSM device, or will be switched to use NTT DoCoMo'd high-speed FOMA W-CDMA network.  The handset will certainly use Android OS 1.5 "Cupcake", however. [via Unwired View]
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