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The second Google Android phone has arrived and is better than ever. Made by HTC, the Magic is a sleek device that makes do without the QWERTY keypad, runs on the latest Android OS (called Cupcake), and is packed with a lot of features to keep you busy.

The HTC Magic will come in two different ‘configurations’ depending on the mobile carrier. The HTC Magic with Google for Vodafone will come with over-the-air firmware update, Geotagging to photos, access to Picasa, and YouTube function.

Three’s HTC Magic on the other hand, comes pre-installed with an MSFT Exchange Client, Document and PDF reader, in addition to a ‘Smart Dialler’ application which lets you type the first few letters of any contact for quick dialling. Three users would need to install firmware updates via the PC however, as over-the-air downloads are not available for this model.

While the pre-installed applications are different, users can simply download the ‘missing’ programs from the Android market. Take note that the key specifications are the same for both phones.

 

Up front, users can find a 3.2-inch TFT-LCD touch screen, six buttons (Home, Menu, Pick Up, Back, Google Search Button, and End Call/Power), and a trackball for navigation. A 3.2-megapixel camera with auto-focus is located at the rear, with the microSD card slot located beneath the back cover. The mini-USB port under the unit is used for charging and synchronising your phone, as well as connecting the proprietary headphone. The unit does not have any 3.5mm headphone jack.

The desktop is in landscape format but is divided into three parts. The main desktop displays the clock and four main program icons (Dialer, Contacts, Browser, Maps), moving the screen to the right reveals the Google search bar, while the leftmost desktop is left empty. Users can easily drag any program to the desktop for easy access.

We like the Magic’s touchscreen – it is more responsive than the Dream, provided us with a variety of input options, and vibrates when you tap on a key (which can be turned off). The Dream’s QWERTY keypad may not be as good as the iPhone, but is still manageable.

Users who have a Google account can instantly have access to their Calendar, Gmail, Contacts, Google Talk, and Gmail. Those who do not have any Google account can easily make one and instantly have access to its services.

 

The Android Market has a lot of apps to offer, giving one the chance to personalise their unit. Paid applications will be coming in Australia soon, so users are stuck to free applications for the meantime.

Other functions include a digital compass, GPS antennae, Bluetooth (With A2DP), Wi-Fi, and HSDPA. HTC claims that the Magic has a maximum talk time of 450 minutes and up to 660 hours of standby time. The Magic lasted for three days during our test.

The HTC Magic offers a lot, but the question now is where to get it. 3 Mobile is giving the Magic for free if you sign up for its $99 plan. Data is not included with the cap, so you would have to shell out an extra $10 (50% off X-Series Plan) for 1GB of downloads, bringing your total payment a month to $109.

Vodafone on the other hand, is offering the Magic for free on its $69 plan. It comes with $400 worth of value plus a 1GB of data a month. You even get to choose a ‘Bonus Option’ – Free evenings and weekend calls (Vodafone to Vodafone), 100 free text messages, or BestMate to a nominated Vodafone number within Australia.

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