With all the hoo-ha surrounding Palm's upcoming Pre and a possible new iPhone on the way, Google's Android OS has fallen out of the limelight somewhat. In part, this has been due to a serious shortage of new hardware. Despite lots of Android related product announcements, the T-mobile G1 has remained the only Android handset available in the UK for around seven months. Thankfully, that's all changed now that the HTC Magic has landed on these shores.
One of the big criticisms of the original G1 was that its bulky frame and jutting jaw line bestowed it with all the physical beauty of Nora Batty. Thankfully HTC learned its lesson, as the Magic is a much sleeker and more refined looking phone. Partly, this is due to the fact that it does away with the G1's keyboard and instead makes you rely totally on the touchscreen for text input, which is no bad thing in our opinion.
Unfortunately the lip that juts out at the bottom of the phone is carried over from the G1, but the good news is that it's now much less pronounced and dare we say it, much less of an eye sore. The buttons under the screen have also been re-jigged slightly. The home button has been shifted to the right rather than sitting directly under the screen and there's a new dedicated search button that works in pretty much all the phone's main apps.
The trackball remains, but really it's a bit of a redundant feature on the Magic simply because the handset's touchscreen is so good. The only time we can think that you'd need to use it is if you were wearing gloves (the Magic's screen is capacitive so it doesn't register screen taps unless you're prodding it with a naked finger).
Unlike the iPhone, the Magic‘s rear cover clips off easily and gives you access to both the removable battery and also the microSD card slot. As the handset only has 512MB of ROM and 192MB or RAM onboard you'll probably end up storing most of your music and video files on the supplied 2GB microSD card. The rear of the handset also houses the phone's sole camera. This has a 3.2-megapixel resolution and although it includes autofocus, it lacks a flash so shooting in low light is a bit of a no-no. Shots from the camera are passable as they tend to suffer from indistinct edge detail and some colour fringing. You can also use the snapper to shoot video, but when there's lots of fast movement in the frame the resulting clips tend to look very blocky.