HTC has for some time been one of the world’s leading manufacturers of smartphones and PDA handsets with business focussed functions, such as push e-mail, a suite of office software and Qwerty keyboards. It’s an approach that has won millions of fans and garnered impressive sales for the likes of the HTC Touch Diamond and the HTC Touch Pro Two. The HTC Magic is, however, a different beast altogether. With plenty of entertainment features and an accent on style and fun, it’s clear that this is aimed the mass market.
Set to be available in the UK exclusively on Vodafone, initial impressions of the HTC Magic are favourable. It’s relatively lightweight for such a powerful device and is easy on the eye, with an impressively large screen.
HTC Magic design
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the HTC Magic reflects Google’s appealingly unfussy, minimalist branding. Meanwhile, the rounded edges and crisp white shell add up to a device that embodies the best of modern phone design. Only Luddite mobile phone traditionalists could possibly find anything to object to here.
As the second of the so-called Google phones, the phone naturally comes with key Google apps installed. These include the GoogleTalk instant messaging service and YouTube, with the option of uploading videos you have captured to the site directly from your phone. There’s also GoogleMaps, which is integrated with the inbuilt GPS for easy navigation. You’ll need to set up a Googlemail address to access these.
The third-party apps we tried are a mixed bag of novelties of the pull my finger and a lightsabre emulator variety and more practical software such as translators and price comparison tools. What’s impressive about the latter, pragmatic apps is the way that the phone’s functionality is utilised. So in the case of SmartShop, for example, the built-in barcode reader is used to scan a product. Seconds later you can view the cheapest deals on offer for the item as well as local stores where you can buy it.
HTC Magic specs and hardware
• The 3.2 megapixel camera is fine for taking fun snaps as well as video capture, although perhaps isn’t quite as high-grade as you might expect on a phone of this calibre.
• There’s also a music player which supports playlists for on the go entertainment. However, if you want to watch full length videos, you’ll need to download a media player from the app store.
• Onboard memory is a 512MB, with the phone to come packaged on Vodafone with a 1GB microSD card. Of course, you boost this further by adding larger capacity cards up to 16GB.
• The HTC Magic is quad-band so can be used with mobile phone networks all over the world.
Ease of use
Fast 3.5G connectivity and an intuitive user interface means that using the phone is a satisfying and efficient experience. The app store can be accessed with two touches, while downloading applications takes a matter of seconds. And getting online and conducting searches is noticeably quicker than with the iPhone, thanks to the full integration of Google in the functionality of the handset. To find it you need only drag your fingers to the left on the main menu and a Google search bar appears.
Navigating the app store, meanwhile, is made easier by the inclusion of a search facility, and we were impressed too with the one-touch method of moving apps around the phone’s menus and removing them. This is done simply by depressing the appropriate icon until the phone screen shakes and then dragging it around the screen.
Some will object to the lack of a Qwerty keyboard, which was of course included with the first Googlephone the T-Mobile G1. Although, we weren’t fussed, this could be a problem if you plan on using the phone for regular e-mailing.
Overall mark: 8/10