A strong second Android phone from HTC. (June 22nd, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: HTC
Price: $150 on Rogers contract, $200 on T-Mobile con
- Great design to look at and hold in the hand.
- Android is powerful; good onscreen keyboard.
- Removable storage and battery.
- Good, not great, battery life and call quality.
- Capacitive (finger-friendly) touchscreen with trackball.
- Simple drag-and-drop media handling.
- Poor camera quality and features.
- Some stock apps limited vs. iPhone; Android Market has less than App Store.
- No 3.5mm earphone jack; proprietary ExtUSB port.
- Touchscreen isn't quite as bright or as smooth as Apple's.
- Currently in a limbo area for pricing.
call quality and battery life
In our testing in a moderately noisy environment, 3G call quality was good, but not flawless. Phone conversations were slightly muffled on either end, but the volume was strong and both parties had an easy time understanding each other. The handset has a well-placed volume rocker for quick adjustments in mid-call.
Longevity is a pleasant surprise on this phone. With a moderate amount of use that included multiple app downloads as well as brief spurts of web browsing, calls and media playback, we were down to about a 20 percent charge after several hours and were told by Android that a recharge was in order. While your experience might vary widely, this fared better than the somewhat quicker-draining iPhone 3G; the competition is somewhat fiercer with the iPhone 3G S as its battery life in data-intensive activities is noticeably better.
Recharging is, unsurprisingly, not very quick. It takes only a couple of hours to reach roughly a three-quarters charge, but the remaining portion takes considerably longer. We'd expect as much from current-generation lithium-ion batteries.
It bears repetition that the Magic's removable battery means that the end of a charge isn't necessarily the end of its useful lifespan. Since battery swapping is simple, a second battery could well provide those extra hours of use for those who are almost constantly talking or using streaming Internet apps. That HTC has managed this without significantly compromising the Magic's thickness is impressive.
camera use and quality
Regrettably, the camera is the one real weak point in the Magic's otherwise good-to-great hardware design. It has a 3.2-megapixel sensor with autofocus, but it's still patently obvious in most cases that this is a cellphone-grade camera with just the basics to control features. The right subject is usually be in focus, but unlike the iPhone 3G S or a media phone like the LG Viewty Smart, you can't tap to autofocus on a particular point of the screen. The only choice is to hold the shutter button and hope the camera detected the right focus object. Photos are usually acceptable but often came out with slightly dull colors. In a few cases, we also get the smeared looks and "purple fringing" (chromatic aberration) that comes from using a small, plastic lens that can't help but produce unwanted effects.
Video recording likewise isn't a selling point. Motion is smooth, but the lens still has an impact on image quality. We were also disappointed that video came out at 320x240 and at a low bitrate that produces blocky compression artifacts. Many phones now (including the iPhone 3G S) can capture at 640x480 and, with very high-end phones like the Samsung i8910, 720p. Most of your recorded footage will ultimately be limited to lowest-detail YouTube sharing or other casual viewing instead of the high-quality web-ready (or even DVD-ready) video that some can offer.