I had a chance to trial a Vodafone HTC Magic (from the UK) this weekend. It’s uses the Google-experience flavour of Android and as such I was not able to connect it to my client’s corporate email account. Total bummer.
If I were to purchase a Rogers Wireless version, I’d get the ability to use 3G, more RAM, and the MS Activsync out-of-box. That said, even on EDGE, the device is a messaging powerhouse.
Over all, I’m impressed with the phone. It lags a bit, but compared to my current phone (an e61i), it’s very sprightly. Click the “Read More” link below to see my other thoughts.
It’s definitely not an enterprise device. No Exchange, no WPA2 Enterprise. No built-in VoIP (see below).
In terms of hardware, I find the ergonomics of the device is somewhat lacking. The placement of the buttons are too low on the chin and just plain awkward to use. Putting the back or home key on the sides would make them a lot more accessible (at the cost of labeling and visibility). The scroll-ball doesn’t track fast enough, making it useful for only highlighting text.
The Magic and Dream (T-Mobile G1) use non-standard headphone jacks with sound being driven from the mini-USB port (which in itself uses a non-standard shape). I’d be okay with this if the sound was driven digitally, but from my understanding, it is just plain analog audio. The headphones suck. You’ll need a mini-USB to 3.5mm adapter if you want to use your own headset. This reminds me of the POP Port on my Nokia…crappy. Apparently the HTC Hero and Samsung i7500 both use 3.5 mm jacks, so future phones should rectify this issue.
As an ASIDE: I wish handset manufacturers would just adopt on the Apple headphone jack standard – it would give many consumers a wide array of choice regarding earphones with built-in microphones for hands-free speaking.
Bluetooth implementation on Android is kind of crappy. A2DP is great and all, but what I really want is OBEX push and file browse. This is something that dumbfounds me, as Symbian has had this for ages.
It charges only from miniUSB—so unfortunately, it’s rather slow. I definitely prefer to use the external power brick (I suppose anyRIM blackberry charger would work as well).
Battery life is a huge change from my E61i. You basically need to top-up charge it once throughout the day. Very different from my Nokia (with wifi, VoIP, Mail for Exchange, and Push Email) which lasts 3 days. The Battery isn’t that much smaller either at 1330mAH vs 1500mAH. Granted, I’ve been surfing on it as much as I can, trying to get a feel for the device. Because you are charging on USB, the trickle charge isn’t very fast. For instance, I know that if my Nokia phone battery is low, I can just plug it in for 20 minutes on a power-brick and I’ll be find for the rest of the evening. I don’t have that confidence with the Magic (or the iPhone 3G/3GS)
As a phone, the Android OS is really clear to use. The dialer, call-log, contacts and favourites are all nearby via tabs. Holding down on a selection usually spawns a contextual menu (a feature that Nokia S60 v5 should have implemented). Quite nice—at least there is no bug in it.
The phone is loud and clear. I did not test the speakerphone.
The Google Experience
I’m not sold on how this syncs with my Google contacts. Unfortunately, I’ve never been one to keep phone numbers in Gmail. Consequently, I had to migrate my phone numbers to my gmail account. Once it is done, it’s quite seamless. I’m glad that Google had the foresight to separate “All Contacts” from “Your Contacts” in their Gmail interface, otherwise the phone would pull down well over 700 addresses which I don’t really consider part of my “phone book”. Fortunately it just used the ones my “Your Contacts” section.
To be honest, I don’t quite get the distinction between “Your Contacts” and “others”—Some important address (like my best friend) were listed in the “others”—I’m glad that it didn’t use all of them. One option in the sync settings is to show only contacts with phone numbers. That’s nice—and it’s something I wished I had on my Nokia.
Other than that, contact management in Gmail and Android is rather rudimentary. No First Name, Last Name sort (it’s tied to your gmail account). I wish the fields were a bit more segmented. The display of contacts is rather plain, although it downloads your contact’s image from their googletalk account. Wish the rows had alternating colours for easier viewing and that the icons differed a bit more for easier distinction.
MMS is simple (take picture and tap the “share” button), although I would like to be able to change an MMS into an SMS on the fly (I don’t think that’s possible with any other platform). I wasn’t able to get it to work on my phone (which is odd, considering my Nokia set it up seamlessly from my SIM), and I wasn’t able to find the Rogers MMS server settings..
SMS is threaded. VERY NICE.
Typing on the device is a bit more difficult than the iPhone. Screen is smaller and it is noticeably harder to type in portrait mode. I find myself using landscape a lot (vs. portrait mode on the iPhone 3G with OS 3.0). Typing in landscape reminds me of typing on the N800, but with better auto-completion. The lack of Multi-touch sucks. You just can’t hold down on the shift and bang out uppercase characters.
I love how you unlock the device using a drag pattern. Very slick.
The Gmail experience is unparalleled—not surprising. It is way better than the Symbian Java client—although the Symbian Java client does allow you to have multiple Gmail accounts.
Browsing is okay. The experience is second-only to the iPhone and Palm Pre. Blows the Nokia touch solution out of the water.
The camera is nothing to write home about. It’s better than the E71 and better than the iPhone 3G camera. I have not compared it to the 3GS.
I did not use the gallery or music player.
I started the post saying that the the Vodafone version of the HTC Magic wasn’t an enterprise device. The Gmail client is great, but you can only hook up 1 account. This is unfortunate. If you want multiple accounts, you’re stuck with IMAP. Without Exchange support, the device really misses the mark for me.
The standard email client blows away the Symbians’s age-old email client (Messaging). Unfortunately, the Android email client it does not handle push (it does continue to attempt syncing though, unlike the built-in Symbian email client). In comparison with the Nokia Messaging push solution—I like my Nokia better. It supports multiple accounts, it is stable and it is very fast. One point that Android does better is that it handles HTML email out of the box.
So all and all, it’s a mixed bag. With either device I would still have to use two applications to manage my email (1 gmail address, 1 google apps for domains address and 1 corporate account).
Calendaring on the Nokia uses Mail for Exchange—it’s barely functional. While it works, it just doesn’t integrate well. The Android calendar in this device integrates with my personal calendar hosted by Google. Not bad. It will also show shared calendars (so if I wanted to pull in my P&W calendar, I could). I wonder what would happen if I could get exchange running on the HTC Magic?
All in all, I like the iPhone calendar better. It shows a summary of the day’s tasks. Screen shots from the e75 also demonstrates this (another potential upgrade candidate). I haven’t founda suitable widget yet, but I love the Active Stand-by screen for S60. It shows just enough information.
It’s nice to have a built-in IM client that is built-in to the device. Good for me since I use GoogleTalk almost exclusively.
No SIP client. This is a killer feature that Nokia seems to be dropping from their latest phones (5800 & N97). It’s unfortunate, because it’s one of the only things that Nokia has designed really well. It is completely and seamlessly integrated within the system. I downloaded sipdroid, an opensource sip client—great integration, but nothing compared to the built-in Nokia client. I made a call to a buddy in Ottawa – it worked well enough. Voice was clear, although he did mention that my voice dropped off a bit. That could be caused by several things, in particular that my QOS system was throttling down the phone (an unknown device).
Bluetooth implementation is slightly lacking. No OBEX file browsing. However, I can mount the phone using the USB2.0 cable—given that i have to top the charge up, it’s not that bad.
I like the fact that it’s easy to remove data. I was able to wipe the phone clean, leaving the apps installed, in about 5 minutes. The iPhone for instance, doesn’t allow you to delete your contacts in bulk without resetting the phone, applications, etc.
Definitely would love to play with a Rogers version of the Magic. In particular, having 3G and MS Exchange support would be of keen interest. Still curious about the Nokia E75, but at least I know more about the landscape in the Smartphone market.