HTC Magic review: Practical magic

GSMArena team, 15 July 2009.
Pages: 1234567891011

Tags: HTC, Android, Touch UI

Messaging threads through

The HTC Magic can handle all common types of messages - SMS, MMS and email. The Instant messaging department is handled by Google Talk.

The on-screen full QWERTY keyboard in the HTC Magic works in both portrait and landscape modes. The individual button size is decent but the sensitivity is not perfect. Sometimes it just doesn't register a tap (mostly when you are pressing a key located near the edges of the screen). Hitting the wrong button is not uncommon too but word suggestions help quite a lot here- turning on the spell checking will save you quite a few taps on the backspace key.

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The on-screen QWERTY

Before we go into details, we'd like to mention the interesting way that incoming messages are handled. You will see no notifications on the homescreen but rather a tiny SMS icon on the status bar at the top. If you have only one SMS message, the entry in the notification area displays the sender and part of the message itself. If you have two or more messages, you are simply informed of the number and the SMS section is opened once you hit the icon.

The SMS and MMS messaging section is quite straightforward and simple at first glance - there are no folders here, just a new message button. It doesn't stay like that for long - under that button is a list of all your messages organized into threads.

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Communication between Dee Dee and Dexter can be quite juvenile

When viewing a thread, the newest message is placed at the bottom, just like with the iPhone. At the bottom of the display is the tap-to-compose box and the send key, of course. There is a counter on the right which is displayed once you have 16 or fewer characters remaining to the 160 limit. It also shows the number of parts the message will be split into for sending.

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Composing a message

Composing a message is a little frustrating since even if you hide the keyboard, the text box with the message only takes a small part of the screen, which really only gives you a small area of the screen to work with.

To add recipients, just start typing the corresponding name or number and choose from the contacts offered. The list of recipients is maintained in a "Name " format, which is a welcome improvement over version 1.0, which added only the numbers.

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This is much better

Any unsent messages and drafts are marked with a red "Draft" label. A really great thing is that each thread keeps the text in the tap-to-compose box even if you exit without sending it or explicitly save it. The "undelivered messages" section however has been removed.

If you wish to manage a specific message in the history, you can press and hold a message to bring up options such as edit, forward and delete as well as view details and copy message text.

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A draft message to Dee Dee managing a specific message

When you get a new message, your whole messaging history with that person is pushed to the top of the messaging menu, no matter when your last conversation took place.

A press-and-hold in the tap-to-compose area gives you access to functions such as cut, copy and paste. You are free to paste the copied text into any other application like email, notes, chats, etc. and vice versa.

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Copy, cut and paste are here

Converting an SMS to MMS is logical and easy. When you add multimedia content to the message, it is automatically turned into an MMS. You can just add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or you can choose to go into a full-blown MMS editor, depending on your needs.

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Attaching a file turns the message into MMS

The Gmail functionality and looks have also seen some changes compared to the G1. The most important new feature is the batch operations, which allow multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted.

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The batch operations are a boost to usability

The user interfaces of both the Gmail and Mail apps have been slighly polished with several icons in the menus changed. The scrolling speed has also been increased compared to Android v1.0.

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Composing an email with the onboard keyboard is as nice as it gets

The standard email client was also slightly modified. The tree structure is now gone and you have to tap on the inbox to change the folder. There is a new key in the general inbox menu for quick email sorting (in either ascending or descending order) by date, subject, sender and size. The chosen sort criteria is displayed at the bottom left corner of the display.

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The standard mail with new looks and features Sort by and changing the folders

Another improvement is the previous and next email shortcuts that appear when you have opened a message.

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The previous/next and compose keys are welcomed

The rest of the email department has remained the same as in the previous version of the OS. What you basically have is still a local copy of your Gmail account bundled with its main functionality.

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