My new HTC Magic Android phone

Last week my HTC TYTN II handset died. Well it didn’t really die, it’s touchscreen just went all purple and green making it near impossible to use. Not sure what happened as the phone was just on the charger. Two months from being out of contract and paid off too…

Anyway, it gave me a perfect excuse to upgrade. This time rather than sign up with my carrier (Three Australia) for another 2 years for a new handset, I decided I would buy my next handset outright on Ebay. Well, to be honest, I really wanted an Android phone and Three had sold out so Ebay was my only choice.

I found a suitable Magic handset and purchased it for A$319 including postage. It arrived the next day by express post.

I am not sure of the provenance of this handset but I bet its had an interesting life. Its a black handset and branded Vodafone but the box it came in seems to indicate its a European model (as it lists the countries it may be used in..). More interestingly, the phone came loaded with an experimental home-brew 2.1 version of the Android OS which isn’t even released for the Magic yet. The 2.1 OS made the handset laggy and some important features (like the camera) just did not work….Maybe thats why it was being sold on eBay??

This threw me a bit at first but I soon learnt that this meant the handset had been “rooted” (i.e. cracked) by someone already; meaning I could easily load any other firmware I wanted from the Micro SD card. I chose to install the latest cyanogenmod firmware which is a community derivative of the standard Android 1.6 OS.

Once carefully loaded, all was good. More than good, the HTC Magic handset is simply the best phone I have EVER owned. The screen is bright and clear, touch screen responsive, virtual keyboard works without a bloody stylus and the apps!! Oh the Android apps!

First off the google integration just works. We have already moved to google for everything and so as soon as I signed into the phone with my google account, everything just worked. If you are on google docs and gmail, you need an android phone.

The native browser is very good. Unlike the iPhone, the Magic has some dedicated keys and a trackball. They are a nice addition and make navigating a breeze.

The handset is small enough to put in your pocket. I never knew how important this was until I had to carry a big thick TYTN II for the two years. It seems obvious but there seems to be a move towards bigger, not smaller handsets – like the pending Dell mini 5. I think that will prove to be a mistake. People do not want to strap a big heavy handset to their belt – period.

The combination of an internal compass, GPS, 3G, camera and accelerometer makes for unique and powerful apps. Google Sky maps is a great example. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what can (and will) be done with these devices.

Purchasing and downloading from the Android app store is quick and painless – especially over WiFi. Adding apps, contacts and widgets to any of the 5 home screens is simple.

Media playback is loud and clear – as long as you keep within the Android video specs. Videos on the built-in Youtube app look fantastic. Throw in an 8GB SD card and you have a serious media device.

The only thing I do not like is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket. You need to purchase a separate mini USB to 3.5mm adapter. This seems to be a HTC design trait as the TYTN II had the same “feature”. Fortunately for me though, this meant I had an adapter on hand.

HTC and Google have built my perfect handset.

If you want one but don’t want to take the risk on Ebay¬†Vodafone Australia are still selling the HTC magic free on the $29 cap x 24 months.

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