HTC Magic test and review

HTC Dream (Google Phone Orange) and HTC Magic (Google Phone SFR), the two French operators are fighting a real battle around Android. In this game, SFR seems to have taken the ascendancy with its touch most successful and animated by the latest version of Android Cupcake.

A classic smartphone without real surprises

With Qualcomm processor clocked at 528 MHz and supported by 192 MB of RAM, the HTC Magic adopts a sufficiently robust configuration to run Android without too much lag. It offers classic connections HSDPA (3G +), Wi-Fi, GPS and Blutooth 2.0. Unlike the HTC Dream from Orange, the Blutooth is unbridled, so you can connect your wireless audio device. This possibility is welcome as the HTC Magic is satisfied with a single mini USB port that supports both audio earphones, data transfer and power supply.

Too bad it does not include tactile audio output jack 3.5 mm as the iPhone 3G …

Similarly, there is a very basic equipment: no wide internal memory, no video output, no photo quality module or high-resolution screen. The HTC Magic is satisfied with a microSD HC card slot (8GB card supplied by SFR), a 3.2 megapixel sensor without flash and a screen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels.

If the HTC Magic is not playing in the courtyard of the over-equipped touch, it is consistent in its design.

We like the physical keys Home, Menu, Back and Search which ideally shall assist the touch interface and facilitate the use of the mobile. The trackball way BlackBerry Pearl is also effective for navigating menus.

The capacitive touch screen of the HTC Magic is close to that of the iPhone and its haptic interface distills slight vibration to confirm each operation.

1340 mAh battery gives the HTC Magic two days of moderate use and use more than one day in intensive use. A long run in Apple’s smartphone, for example.

At the hardware level, we mainly reproach the Magic without a audio jack (especially as the miniUSB headset is just correct) and a quality photo module. If the latter is more efficient than that of the iPhone being able to record video at 320 x 240 pixels, it remains poor.

Android: a really touch interface!

If the hardware configuration of Magic is not especially exciting, its operating system, the new version of Android, we packed. Called Cupcake, this SHIFT Android brings innovations compared to the version that drives the HTC Dream from Orange. Main novelty, all menus or applications are displayed in both portrait and landscape.

For example, for writing messages (SMS, email), you’ll enjoy a QWERTY keyboard in full screen (landscape mode) very comfortable. This possibility is a real asset against the Apple smartphone which in this case has only a landscape keyboard (vertical) smaller.

However, the transition from one mode to another takes more time on the Magic on the iPhone. The latency of a second is not a problem except for heavy applications like Maps where the transition may take more than 5 seconds.

The operation of Android has nothing to envy to the iPhone for ease of use. To bring up the menu with applications, you only have to slide your finger from the bottom up. If you want to customize one of three home pages, simply hold down on the application and drag to the desired location.

We also like the notification bar at the top of the screen that indicates the status of calls, messages or downloads. As for the main menu, just drag his finger up and down to bring up the notification bar. Android is multitasking and therefore can simultaneously manage 6 applications. One reaches the open applications still pressing the Home key. Simple and efficient

As on the previous frame of Android, you will find the menus that adapt to each situation. For example, when you are on Web browser, the menu key will provide access to research, bookmark or offer to open a new window. In the Photo / Video menu (Gallery) by pressing the same button, you access the slideshow mode or online sharing options (Picasa or Youtube).

If the Magic incorporates the same capacitive screen than the iPhone, it is not multi-point like it. So exit the zoom with two fingers! However, Android offers an interesting alternative: on a web page, document or photo, double click on the screen will bring up a circular icon zoom. In fact, the expansion of a page is less playful and effective as multitouch zoom for the iPhone. Responsiveness and sensitivity of this process are sometimes lacking.

Google and Open Source environment

If the HTC Magic does not include a jack, it has still some multimedia skills. Playing videos (MP4 and 3GP), audio and photo files, the Magic can even capture video (320 x 240 pixels) via its 3.2 megapixel APN. The result is often poor, but this possibility has the merit to exist. The web browser is based on the same core as the iPhone, you generally find the same skills (except the multitouch).

As the smartphone Apple, Android also has a kiosk for downloading applications. If Android Market is evidently shows less provided that the App Store (1000 applications against 23,000) it is also more flexible.

This is the great strength of Android and Android in general. This open source operating system is more tolerant than the Apple OS. Thus, we find on Android Market emulators of consoles, Microsoft Exchange Manager application or customer … Bittorrent Downloading applications is fast and easy, but the Android Market is also less friendly than the App Store.

In fact, if the Google OS has some delay, its openness and flexibility could allow it to fill quickly.

Google’s services are obviously optimized. Gmail, Maps (including Street View, Latitude), YouTube, Google Talk, the Magic plunges you into a fairly comfortable environment Google. For example, it is very easy to send your photos or videos to Picasa or Youtube and browsing Street View in compass mode (via the accelerometer) is jubilant.

The operating system Google has enormous potential. Open Source and more flexible than that of the iPhone, it is also one of the only ones fully exploitable finger. With its capacitive screen, the HTC Magic showcases the touch interface and thanks to its hardware configuration, Android runs without too much lag. The Android Market is less provided that the App Store, but it is also more flexible and providing new opportunities for development.

The HTC Magic is consistent in its design, it has a proper independence and thoughtful mechanical keys. especially we regret the absence of a jack and a disappointing picture module.

Need help, advice on the HTC Magic? Ask your questions in the Android Forum.