HTC Magic review: Practical magic

GSMArena team, 15 July 2009.
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Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Android Market: reloaded

The HTC Magic comes with very little preinstalled applications - Google Maps, Google Talk, the Quickoffice, the PDF viewer and the YouTube client are all you get. However with the Android Market open for business you can finds a large number of apps (a good portion of them is free by the way) which can be downloaded directly from the handset using Wi-Fi or the mobile network.

HTC Magic
The Android Market start page

A nice touch is the warning shown if the application you're about to download has potentially unsafe access to personal data, connectivity settings or else. The warning says exactly what data will be accessed so you can abort the download if you prefer.

When an app is being downloaded a status bar appears at the top of the display to track progress. When download is complete, you can start the application from there.

HTC Magic HTC Magic HTC Magic HTC Magic
A status bar appears when an application is being downloaded

The Android Market follows the logic of the pioneering Apple App Store. Everything about it - the structure, the look - is pretty familiar.

Finding a specific app is pretty easy even now, several months after our first meeting with the Android Market (during the T-Mobile G1 review) when there are a lot more apps available.

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Finding the app you need is as easy as pie

Applications vary from pretty useless (such as the one that turns the display into a flashlight) to real must-have's (including file managers and video players).

As expected, there are also games... lots of them. That's quite nice, as the Magic has only one game pre-loaded (the name Teeter ring a bell?).

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Teeter the game

Final words

It was a pleasure having the HTC Magic around. The little fella puts the young OS into a nicely-looking device with much broader appeal than the G1. The Magic performed quite well, all the more so considering that its platform is just about coming of age. It does have a few flaws and they do count against when choosing your next handset but the handling and the novelty are a huge point in favor.

And it looks there's bright future ahead for the Android OS with almost every major manufacturer embracing the platform. With a rapidly growing user community, the apps available should mushroom. Tweaking up an open source OS must be quicker and more efficient than any other platform out there - and we're really talking tweaks here cause the Android is very much up and running.

So, the HTC Magic is a reasonable purchase now, and has the potential to a become a bargain in the future. We saw most of that potential fulfilled with the iPhone a couple of years ago and we hope Android handsets will learn from Apple's mistakes and do even better.

But passing a final verdict is always a matter of how the handset in question fares against its main market rivals. The HTC Magic is quite keen to stir touchscreen waters so it needs to deal with the ripples.

The iPhone is a name that echoes menacingly in the touchscreen world. The pricing of Apple's latest tech-toy puts it in a different league but it doesn't really matter if you are after the ultimate touch interface. The App Store has a good advantage over the Android market at the moment but can Apple really battle against half the mobile world?

Apple iPhone 3GS
Apple iPhone 3GS

The other half of the world in this game is the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. Priced way below the Magic, it offers an equally young platform, backed up by the expertise of the market leader. The much smoother handling and far better looks of the Magic against the Symbian pedigree of the Finn do make this less of an easy choice.

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

Finally, a glance at the Windows Mobile offerings reveals what could've been the Magic's greatest rival… was it not a step-brother. The HTC Touch Diamond2 has superior functionality, pretty smooth handling and a comparable price tag. With WinMo applications vastly more than the Android portfolio, the Magic's future promise is pretty much the saving grace.

HTC Touch Diamond2
HTC Touch Diamond2

But well, it's easy to understand why the HTC Magic and Android are looking out to the future. There just isn't much to look back to. The HTC Magic (also available as T-Mobile myTouch 3G) doesn't carry the load of the HTC Dream a.k.a. G1 on its shoulders. And we don't mean the QWERTY keyboard here. The Magic is just not burdened with the expectations everyone had of the forerunner. All it needs to do is speak a universal language and reach to wider audience. Our humble opinion is it does.

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