It’s (sort of) here! Well, for Europe at least. Yesterday European company Vodaphone officially announced their first mobile phone powered by the Google Android operating system. The HTC Magic, better known as G2, will be available exclusively to the Vodafone Europe network and it is unlikely to be offered in the US anytime soon. But it’s still fun to look:
"The announcement of the HTC Magic is an important step for Android and the Open Handset Alliance," says Andy Rubin, Senior Director of Mobile Platforms at Google. "With it, Vodafone is opening up the mobile web for consumers across Europe and giving more third-party developers a platform on which they can build the next wave of killer applications."
The design is ultra sleek and sexy—a definite upgrade from the chunky, awkward G1. Though slightly thicker than the iPhone, the weight, narrow and rounded body make it feel roughly the same size. Functionality-wise, a new Google Mail feature is offered to delete or classify mail in bulk, as well as a faster camera. The camera is now capable of recording and video playback—territory the iPhone has yet to conquer.
The rest of the interface and features are what you already have in the Android G1. Obviously, aside from cool camera tricks, what ultimately steals the show here is the hardware itself.
The HTC Magic does not include a headphone jack. Instead, it uses the same USB/adaptor setup as the G1. Like it’s predecessor, this means you'll need custom headphones or an adapter to plug in your own. What's worse, the adapter reportedly won't be available immediately at launch, just a bundled headset.
Most of the mobile-verse is aware that HTC tends to forget about the music jack in their models, the Touch HD being the only exception. We wonder, after various complaints revolving around G1, why wouldn’t HTC step it up?
As you’ve probably noticed, the HTC Magic is a touch screen handset. Unlike the G1, the Magic does not have a physical keypad. Unfortunately for Google, while this feature has worked out famously for Apple, word on the street is that it’s terrible on the G2.
Testers report that the software keyboard feels cramped on G2’s screen size, which is smaller than the iPhone. Additionally, while the letters on an iPhone pop up above your finger as you press them, the letters on the Magic appear for a millisecond on the sides. If you type a key on the left of the keyboard it flashes on the right, and if you type a key on the right it flashes on the left. This kind of detail is great for those of us with hands tiny enough to use both thumbs to type, but for us index finger typists, our hands will unfortunately obstruct the view of the pop-up.
Regardless of the lack of headphone jack and funky soft keyboard, the fact remains that it’s still a Google phone complete with lots of delicious Google perks. Once the device is released to the European public in April of this year, there’s no doubt the masses will flock. Perhaps in the end the name and otherwise superb functionality will outweigh the bad. Much like the iPhone vs the iPhone’s atrocious battery life.
Stay up to date with G2 happenings by checking out Vodaphone’s Barcelona blog here.