HTC Magic on 3 Mobile (Google Android) Smart Phone Review

The HTC Magic Google Android Smart Phone from 3 Mobile is a huge improvement to the original HTC Dream both aesthetically with its sleek black design and because it ships with new much improved Android 1.5 software.

New features include: video recording, desktop widgets, Bluetooth A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, an onscreen keyboard, faster web browsing and more RAM (memory) which made the whole phone faster.

This is an initial review after using the HTC Magic on 3 Mobile for a few days. I’ll be updating this review during the next few weeks before this media/press loan handset gets returned to HTC Australia.

HTC Magic Photos

HTC Magic Android Phone

Features & Specifications

  • Special FeaturesExclusive HTC “Teeter” game, G-sensor (accelerometer), Digital Compass, Trackball (glows when new Mail or other messages arrive!)
  • Screen – 3.2-inch TFT/LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with 320 x 480 (HVGA) resolution
  • Weight – 116 grams with battery (26% lighter than HTC Dream, 14% lighter than iPhone 3GS)
  • Memory – 512 MB ROM, 288 MB RAM (96mb more RAM than the HTC Magic Vodafone version)
  • Storage – Sells with 2GB microSD card. The Magic supports MicroSD 2.0, which means technically it can go up to 32GB (though few cards have been made of that size, so it’s only tested to 16GB, but since it should be compliant with the standard, there should be no problems)
  • Camera – 3.2 megapixel color camera with auto focus
  • 2G and 3G Frequencies – HSDPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz (upto 2 Mbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds) + Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • Google Integration – One-touch access and full integration with Google mobile Internet services (Gmail™, YouTube™, Google Maps™, Google Talk™, Calendar, Google™ Search etc).
  • Music/Audio/Video – Records Audio and Video. plays MP4, AAC, AAC+, AMR-NB, MIDI, MP3, WMA, WMV
  • ApplicationsThere are lots of interesting Android applications to use
  • Microsoft Exchange support – Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) or Microsoft Exchange Server 2007
  • Battery – Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1340 mAh (25% more batterylife than HTC Dream)

HTC Magic Tips

  • If you’re used to older style phones where you have to press buttons to do everything the Touchscreen may seem weird at first. After a little while you’ll wonder how you ever did without it because its such a natural way to scroll through information on screen like a newspaper article
  • Make sure you explore the Android Market and install some of the interesting 3rd party Android applications, many of which are free or low cost
  • The lack of standard headphone jack is quite annoying. I had to buy a “3.5mm ADAPTER FOR T-mobile HTC G1 G-1 Phone Dream touch” from EBAY seller sitedv88 to be able to listen to music on the phone while using my own headphones
  • This is an expensive phone and the touchscreen can be scratched and damaged really easily so I recommend that you buy and use the InvisibleShield protective covering for the HTC Magic.
  • @MarkBennett suggests using the (paid) “Better Keyboard” application on Android phones because it’s got a better keyboard layout than the default, including long press to type numbers and T9 mode using number keys which is handy for bumpy situations.

Battery Tips

The HTC Magic employs a battery that requires overcharging and topup charging. You must charge it as much and as often as possible. The more you charge the better the battery life becomes. So after a few charges you should see the benefit of this. Letting the charge drain out undoes this so try and charge as often as possible

In terms of drain, it depends what you’re doing with it. For example, if you make a few calls, surf a few pages and get a few emails a day, you’re looking at a much better lifespan than continual media playback.

This might be a shock for anyone used to a more basic phone like a Sony Ericsson Walkman, that does much less, and lasts for ages. Seasoned smartphone users are used to daily charging – its the price you pay for a 400-600mhz processor, touchscreen, constant ‘cloud’ interaction such as sync etc.

If you’re concerned about your level of battery usage, I’d certainly leave it a few weeks to see if it improves. Other than this, you can always turn wifi, bluetooth off when not needed, set the screen brightness down, or even carry a spare battery. Such practices are the unwritten ‘Smartphone Code’.

HTC Magic versus iPhone 3GS

My friend Derek (@ozdj on Twitter) has bought the HTC Magic and iPhone 3GS so I’m adding his comparison comments here:

  • Out of the Box Setup: HTC Magic wins the out of box experience with no iTunes palava like iPhone 3GS
  • Wifi: Magic thumps the 3GS for wifi reception/sensitivity. On par with (perhaps a little better than?) Touch Pro in this respect
  • Web Browsing: 3GS cleans up on gen. web browsing, but Magic (with trackball) more efficient on pages with tight nav menus. Both better than Opera browser on WinMobile
  • Application Switching/Multitasking: App switching is *fast* on 3GS but still no ability to run general apps in background like Android or WinMobile
  • 3rd party Applications: 3GS wins for overall quality/variety sheer number & range of applications. Android has most useful free apps, marketplace is faster & apps more ‘edgy’. ;
  • Music: HTC Magic still missing 3.5mm audio jack (good to see HTC Hero will have one). 3GS easily wins the audio ease of use battle
  • Cloud Synchronisation: HTC Magic/Android nails this out of the box. 3GS Mobile Me is expensive
  • View in bright daylight: Little difference between 3GS & Magic – quite acceptable but not spectacular
  • GPS time to acquire: (cold boot with Assisted GPS on): 1st = Magic, 2nd = 3GS (but very little time between them).

buy this mobile phone from the 3 mobile store

Other People’s Reviews of HTC Magic

Quite frankly I was disappointed by all the other reviews I read about the HTC Magic. There were small mistakes in many of the review articles even on professional technology/gadget sites.

I suspect the journalists in question didn’t use the phone for very long and don’t actually own Google Android phones themselves so aren’t aware about the subtle features, best 3rd party applications and the fact that new operating system features from Android 1.1 to 1.5 can be applied to the HTC Dream/G1 as well as the HTC Magic/G2.

Those interested in the differences between the HTC Dream and the HTC Magic will find the most outstanding changes in its physical design. Gone is the Dream’s bulky size, and with it, its full-size QWERTY keyboard. Instead, the Magic makes use of a 3.2-inch HVGA (480×320) touchscreen display with a built-in software keyboard. This omission means the Magic is impressively slimmer, and we also find it to be much sleeker and sexier too.

We really like the size and shape of the Magic; a colleague in the US referred to it as being slim with a chin. The chin is a small, curved lip around the base of the phone, visible from side-on, which really helps to hold the phone comfortably in your palm. This shape appears to assist with single-handed operation, with most common tasks being simple to complete with just one hand, and thanks as well to a jogwheel tucked away beneath the Magic’s display.

We like the Magic, maybe even love it a little bit, but we can’t deny being disappointed at the parts of this phone that are missing. The Magic is perfect for young, hip, tech-savvy types for whom the lack of decent multimedia will be a major turn off, especially when compared with the iPhone’s excellent iPod capabilities. This wouldn’t be such a huge problem if it shipped with an iTunes-like syncing and conversion software, but it doesn’t.

Confusingly, the Magic will be released in Australia in two variants; one offered by Vodafone with a couple of consumer-focused additions like geotagging, and the other offered by 3 Mobile with baked in Microsoft ActicSync compatibility.
ZDNET Australia

It’s definitely a lot more stylish and, despite being aimed at the younger “online” crowd, would do well in business applications. It has full native support for Microsoft Exchange email. The lack of a physical keyboard will be a turn-off for many but in most other respects, the Magic is a far superior handset to the Dream.

There are downsides to the Magic, though. There’s no standard 3.5mm jack for headphones; it uses a mini USB connector. It doesn’t have a lot of storage either; just 512MB internally plus a microSD card slot (2GB card supplied). It’s no match for the iPhone’s minimum of 8GB.

For open-source and Google Apps fans, it’s one of HTC’s most convincing handsets to date.
The Age/SMH Newspapers

The biggest improvement the Magic offers over the Dream is its design. The Dream was chunky and quite bland, but the Magic is slim, glossy and stylish. It features rounded edges and a curve below the screen. It weighs less than the Dream despite retaining the same 3.2in screen size. Unfortunately, the glossy finish means the Magic is highly prone to fingerprints and is almost impossible to keep clean.

Unfortunately, unlike Vodafone’s HTC Magic with Google the HTC Magic on 3 doesn’t allow over-the-air firmware updates; you’ll need to perform these manually by plugging the phone into your PC via the included USB cable. This version of the HTC Magic also lacks the ability to geotag photos, but unlike the Vodafone version it supports Microsoft Exchange and displaying PDFs and other documents out of the box. It also has what 3 calls a “smart dialler”. The smart dialler allows you to quickly filter contacts when you begin to dial a number or type the name of a contact.
PCWorld Australia

Buying the HTC Magic in Australia

In Australia the HTC Magic on 3 Mobile is available with various cap prices.

The same version has been spotted at prices around $750 including postage on EBAy including 288mb RAM + 8gb class6 sdhc card and screen protector.

The similar HTC Magic on Vodafone (without Exchange support and with 96mb less RAM) is white instead of black and is available for outright purchase online from Australian websites Mobicity and Becextech initially for $950 but prices have dropped to less than $680.

If you’ve got an HTC Magic please contribute your experience using it, comparisions to your previous phone, tips and tricks etc – thx 🙂

11 thoughts on “HTC Magic on 3 Mobile (Google Android) Smart Phone Review”

  1. HTC has released a ROM Upgrade for the “3 Mobile HTC Magic”

    ROM version: 2.17.861.2 Improved Functions

    1. Google Maps has been updated to version 3.1.1.
    2. Setup Wizard has been updated to load all privacy policies and Google Terms of Service from the network.
    3. Fixed Exchange Contact and Calendar synchronization issues. After editing contacts without a photo assigned, contact synchronization would fail. After editing calendar appointments and accepting changes using ‘enter’ calendar synchronization would fail.
    4. Fixed authentication failure when manually setting up an Exchange server account.
    5. Google security patch fix. For details, please refer to http://www.ocert.org/advisories/ocert-2009-011.html

    More details and installation instructions at install instructions at http://www.htc.com/au/SupportViewNews.aspx?dl_id=634&news_id=224

  2. I just got the Magic last week. Firstly, I’d like to point out that the Magic’s screen (3.2″) is smaller than the iPhone 3GS (3.5″). They’re both capacitive (good for fingers, can’t use stylus), but the Magic does not support multitouch. Not sure if an application can fix this. Because of this, I think the Magic is worse at viewing pictures/webpages than the iPhone.

    Also, I don’t have an iPhone, but my iPod Touch 2nd gen can receive wifi at some places in my house where my Magic can’t. I’d say the iPhone’s wifi is probably better than the Magic’s.

    My previous phone was a Nokia 6120 classic. Compared to this, I think the Magic lacks some important features:

    tethering: I know Google pulled tethering apps because some phone company complained. The apps are supposed to be back in non-US markets. However, I have yet to see any using bluetooth. This is a major disappointment for me, because I want to use my phone with my laptop. Even if there are tethering apps using bluetooth, they are unlikely to be free. It’s sad that such an expensive, smartphone, has less functionality than my 6120.

    bluetooth: bluetooth “support” is a joke. Out of the box, it only supports headsets and headphones – a bit like my iPod Touch. Even if you don’t allow tethering, how about syncing or file transfer? Again, behind older/cheaper phones. Not sure how the iPhone fares on this. Having an app market is not an excuse to produce crippled software and letting other developers plug your holes!

    I got this phone for $49+18 a month on 3 Australia. The iPhone 3GS is $49+5, I think. Not very good value when you add the fact that the iPhone already comes with at least 16 GB of memory.

    As for recommended apps, I’d say:

    a file manager, since Android doesn’t have one. The Gallery isn’t practical once you have a few hundred photos. I’m using ASTRO
    something to end tasks. Although Android supports background applications, it doesn’t let you see what’s running! Ending tasks is supposed to save battery and increase performance.

    On the whole, Android seems very rough and prototypical, compared to other phone OSes like S60. I’m counting on the fact that it has more devices than the iPhone OS and is open-source, so one day it will be able to compete with the iPhone OS.

    EDITOR:
    It’s true that in general usefulness and speed the version of Android you’re using is rough and far behind the unofficial version i’m using

    The HTC Dream and Magic do support multitouch in the browser but it’s disabled because of threats from Apple. I’m using unofficial Android firmware called Cyanogen and it includes multi-touch zooming

    Cyanogen is a heavily optimized build of Android based on 1.5r3 with parts of the currently available Donut tree, as well as many contributions from the xda-developers.com community and other sources.

    Tethering & Bluetooth I cant comment on because I dont use them at all.

  3. Hi it’s me again and after using the Magic for a big longer, here are some things I like:
    the alarm tells you how long more before it sounds when you set it (e.g. alarm is set for 7 hours from now. It even calculated correctly for Daylight Savings.)
    the trackball is useful for clicking on small links in the browser
    it can run background apps
    has a removable battery (better than the iPhone)
    it can charge by the mini USB port (easy to find cables)

    Please, does anyone know if you can rearrange the bookmarks in the browser? I can’t find a way to. If you can’t even do this then I’m really giving up hope in Android.

    EDITOR: afaik bookmarks cannot be rearranged

  4. hey neerav, thanks for the comprehensive review.

    am thinking of upgrading from HTC dream to the magic after convo with you. However, i like the keyboard. i’ve got 1.5 but still haven’t got used to the touchscreen yet. maybe i’m just old skool, but i like having both physical keypad and touch keypad.

    EDITOR: If i were you I’d wait a while til early next year by when a lot more Android handsets will have been released

    If you must upgrade now than i’d buy a Hero from the UK store Clove (roughly AUS$700)

  5. I had the opportunity to test this during my holiday, and I’m glad to say it can. Apparently, you have to disable “Use wireless networks” in the location settings, so it only uses GPS. Before I disabled this, I could not get a GPS lock. However, its GPS only performance is very poor and you’d best be in a REALLY open area.

  6. Thanks for the review. I think android is the way to go, more customisable than the iPhone software

  7. Good Post .A dual boot system with gasoline until hot and then switch to LPG automatically, is the most desirable but also more expensive.

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