Vodafone

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.

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]

Android Community Week in Review: Week 18 2009

After weeks of relative silence from mainstream Android hardware, the past seven days has seen two headline devices reach us.  The HTC Magic launched in Europe, the second Android smartphone to hit the market, while Samsung announced their first Android handset in the shape of the I7500. There's not much we didn't already know about the HTC Magic, but buyers finally have the chance to pick one up on Vodafone Spain at least and, from this weekend, Vodafone UK.  We've got all the details here, plus a video unboxing here. As for the I7500, Samsung have taken their long history in cellphones and piped Android into a slick touchscreen body.  Unlike the HTC handsets' rather half-hearted cameras, there's the promise of a 5-megapixel snapper, and the whole thing is just 11.9mm thick.  Check out the live images and video demo for the full details. Motorola's first devices running Android were also tipped; no official announcement so far, but word is that the hardware QWERTY handsets will reach Verizon Wireless sometime later this year.  Finally, software made a splash this week, as Android OS 1.5 "Cupcake" finally reached devices.  It brings with it features like an on-screen QWERTY keyboard and direct YouTube uploads, but also its own fair share of controversy as developers blame Vodafone Europe for rushing the launch and not giving them enough time with the official release. [vms f5bb252d13f5f431e4bb]

Vodafone HTC Magic gets video unboxing

Vodafone Germany surprised us all with a sneaky early launch of the HTC Magic this week, and the first handsets are being delivered.  Our friend Sascha is one of the first to get his hands on the Magic, and he put together an unboxing video of the new Android smartphone. Unlike the white Magic handsets that we've seen the most of in the run up to the launch, Sascha's HTC is black and it certainly suits that color.  While in the image above the keys look to be white, in actual fact they're just silver and are reflecting the overhead lighting. Aside from the HTC Magic itself, Vodafone bundle a slip-case (which "feels a little cheap"), a USB cable, power supply and a wired stereo headset.  More information on the handset itself in the video below, and you can check out our previous coverage on the Magic for more details. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5ha1UABflw[/youtube]

HTC Magic launches on Vodafone Spain

Vodafone Spain have released the HTC Magic, beating their UK counterpart to launch.  The Magic is available now through the carrier's online store, and will be in retail stores from next week, priced between €19 ($25) and €199 $262) depending on tariff.  An all-inclusive internet plan, priced at €12 ($16) per month, is mandatory. Both black and white versions of the Magic will be on offer, each with a 3.2-inch QVGA touchscreen, GPS, HSPA and WiFi b/g.  The Magic also has Bluetooth 2.0, a 3.2-megapixel camera and 500MB of onboard storage, together with supporting up to 8GB microSD memory cards.  As with other Android devices, the Magic has the Google suite of applications, including access to the Android Market, GMail and a full internet browser.  More details on tariffs and pricing at the official Vodafone Spain blog; more on the HTC Magic here. [Thanks Tony!]

Android Community Week in Review: Week 17 2009

As we wait for the HTC Magic to land, with what's expected to be a May 5th launch on Vodafone UK, this week has been all about alternative devices from the standard Android smartphone. We kicked off with a video demo of a hacked-together Android netbook, only to find the real thing - or at least the promise of it - in the shape of the Skytone Alpha 680 later. Based on an ARM11 processor, the Alpha 680's specs might have trouble blowing the skin off of custard, but it's enough to run Android "fairly well" including some YouTube viewing. In fact the only real disappointment could be the price: early rumors led us to believe that Skytone were aiming for $100 sticker, a figure new information from the company's co-founder has proved inaccurate. The Alpha 680 will actually come in at around $250, with Skytone's target audience being emerging markets. If you'd rather a more pocketable device, and don't mind giving up the QWERTY keyboard, then Routon's P730 and P760 might fill a niche. The compact MIDs are currently seeing distributors, with the promise of Android to sweeten the deal. Finally, what's tipped as Samsung's first Android handset, the I7500, has broken cover. Bearing an AMOLED touchscreen and the usual UMTS/GPS/WiFi connectivity of Android handsets we've seen already, the I7500 is apparently headed to O2 Germany in June.

Vodafone HTC Magic landing May 5th from free

Vodafone UK have put the HTC Magic up for pre-order, with the touchscreen Android smartphone available from free depending on contract.  Launched back at Mobile World Congress in February, the Magic is HTC's second Android device after the T-Mobile G1 (aka the HTC Dream). According to Vodafone, the first deliveries of the Android handset should arrive on May 5th.  The Magic had been expected to launch on May 1st, itself a delay from the originally slated April release.  Monthly contracts costing £35 ($51) upward (over 18 months) get a free Magic; the cheapest contract is £15 ($22), with the phone then priced at £293.62 ($428). The HTC Magic has a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen, 3.2-megapixel camera, GPS, HSDPA and WiFi.  Our hands-on video is below, and for the full gallery check out our MWC coverage. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEOspvaOmbk[/youtube]

Vodafone UK HTC Magic launching May 1st

Contrary to initial reports (and Vodafone UK's own website), the HTC Magic is set to launch in the UK on May 1st.  The handset, announced back at Mobile World Congress in February, will be the second Android device to go on sale. According to the report, the HTC Magic will be free providing the buyer signs up to a £25 contract or higher.  There's no detail on specific price-plans, but we're assuming an unlimited data package will be pushed. The HTC Magic has the same 3.2-megapixel camera, capacitive touchscreen and HSDPA/GPS as the T-Mobile G1.  However it lacks a hardware QWERTY keyboard, instead having a new on-screen keyboard.

Android Community Week In Review: Week 10 2009

Big Android news this week was HTC's recently announced Magic handset getting official release windows on Vodafone UK and Orange France. Running Google's Android, the Magic will offer 3G internet, GPS, a slimmer form [than the current G1], and an on-screen keyboard for typing. Release dates are March 15th for Orange France and sometime in April for Vodafone UK. In case you're wanting to keep closer tabs on this bleak global economic state, Google has released an official app for Android to help you do just that. Google Finance is available in the Android Market now for the very appropriate price of $0.00, but only to users in the US. The software has limited stock market support (for now), though the major US indices are covered in near-real time. More companies are looking at Android as a new and powerful mobile OS for their upcoming devices. Acer has been surrounded by talks and comments regarding the possibility of Android powering their two forthcoming handsets. No concrete answer was given when asked directly if Android was the choice, but an OS other than Windows Mobile was said to definitely be in the cards. Still needing some feature bumps since its original debut in 2006, Road's S101 HandyPC is rumored to have switched gears from a Linux distro to Android as its OS of choice. Yuhua have also followed up their design of General Mobile's DLST1 handset with the Xphone-SDK concept. While only a concept at this point, the phone is limited to EDGE connectivity. Considering Android's dependence on 'cloud' computing, this may pose a problem with potential slow-downs. Potentially ground-shaking news is Android's perceived ability to give Apple's OS X Touch (iPhone) a run for its money by 2012. Industry analysts are predicting that current economic conditions paired with Android's non-commitment to a particular carrier or handset manufacturer will give it the extra boost it needs to catch up with Apple. Also considered was the fact that Smart phones have outsold notebook PCs for the first time ever, possibly signaling more powerful mobile platforms providing the majority of functionality that people need away from their desks. While OS X Touch is somewhat limited in its ability to multitask, Android can accomplish multiple things at once. This could also draw mobile professionals with the need to get more work done while on the go.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12