Overview (4 out of 5)
The Android operating system from Google is an open platform developed to power mobile devices and handsets.
The basic idea behind Android is simple, to get technology companies and mobile companies to use an open operating system that any developer can update to improve their products. The Google Ion, also known as the HTC Magic is the second offering from HTC that uses the Android platform, the company’s first offering was the T-Mobile G1. Its pocket friendly dimensions of 113 x 55 x 14mm are sure to be a hit with users as will the light 119g weight.
HTC Magic Improvements Vs. T-Mobile G1 (4 out of 5)
On first reading the HTC Magic seems to have fixed a number of flaws that the earlier T-Mobile G1 had. For instance It has replaced the keyboard with an onscreen version, all possible because of the latest Android update in the form of Cupcake 1.5. It however seems to have the same interface as the earlier model, including a 3.2 inch touch screen just like the G1.
What you get
The phone itself is accompanied by a Mini USB 2.0 charger; a head set that also uses the same port and a cover for the phone, with a USB lead. The design is all in white which allows the device to be easily spotted on a desk that is otherwise cluttered. The Taiwanese company has also teamed up with Vodafone which is apparent in the design of the chassis.
The Keyboard (4 out of 5)
There is a slight difference in the layout of the buttons on this new model, with the menu button now above the trackball and to its left. On the G1 it was at the base of the screen. While a search button on the extreme right interacts with every application on the phone. The keyboard on the G1 which was listed as one of its USP’s is replaced by one on the touch screen and has helped to reduce its thickness to just 14mm.
How Does it Feel to Use the HTC Magic? (4 out of 5)
The weight loss compared to the G1 is so obvious that initially it felt a little odd, almost like it was missing something. It however feels just right for one handed operation, though this is not how most users will operate it. Its plethora of screens will probably having you hold it one hand while you poke at the screens with the other.
Free to own
The Google Ion / HTC Magic is free to own provided you contract to pay a cost of 35£ per month for the next two years on Vodafone, while worldwide prices will vary upon it’s release. Once you take the free offer however, remember you are bound to this model for the next 24 months and will find it difficult to change over to a new model as you would have to continue to pay for the monthly services from the carrier.
Cupcake 1.5 (5 out of 5)
The Android operating system in its new avatar of Cupcake 1.5 seems to work much faster for web browsing and the host of Google applications that can be approached through the trackball or other navigational buttons.
It also allows on screen pads to be used in the landscape or portrait mode. Basically it’s comfortable forpeople with bigger fingers, who normally find such screen keyboards a bit difficult to use. From the home screen a finger to the left or right will even give space for customized shortcuts. Dragging down from the top will also display the notification screen which will show new messages and missed calls. Drag up the screen from the bottom and you will go to a screen showing all the various applications available. Though the touch screen for the keyboard is really small Android has a built in feature which automatically corrects mistakes so speedily that you rarely have to go back to do so.
A lot of Android Market downloads are also available which will help to get you Microsoft Exchange support or Java support among other offerings. The Android starter kit will even advise you of the applications to download, though some of them have bugs. You should be familiar with the method of removing such applications before you start your Android Market downloads.
Other Features of Google Ion HTC Magic (4 out of 5)
The HTC MAGIC also uses a Qualcomm CPU, Wi-Fi, GPS, a 3.2MP camera and High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). It is also only available via Vodafone at this time.
There is also a small chin or curved lip at the base of the phone which is only really visible when you view it from the side. This feature however helps to hold the phone comfortably in the users palm. Because of this easy to hold feature a lot of operations can be carried out with one hand, further helped by a jog wheel below the touch screen.
The HTC MAGIC however does not support too many multimedia file types, and you would be well advised to take this into consideration if you expect a lot of multimedia use from your phone. Look at the YouTube application if you are fond of keyboard cat videos. A Google search bar is also positioned at the bottom of the screen.
The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is one of the disappointments of the HTC MAGIC, as this will make you dependent on the hands free kit which is not a good offering in the least.