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HTC Magic review

Niall Magennis




  • Recommended by TR

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HTC Magic
  • HTC Magic
  • HTC Magic
  • HTC Magic
  • HTC Magic
  • HTC Magic


Our Score:


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.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


May 13, 2009, 6:31 am

Wow, to be honest I wasnt expecting such a positive review - given the previews. I'm on vodafone and my Storm although great when it works, has already developed some serious hardware faults. Maybe I'll try and get one of these out of Vodafone C.S. though I don't fancy my chances.

Ross Maclean

May 13, 2009, 6:43 am

I need to ask why are all the images of the phone rendered images rather than images of the physical handset?


May 13, 2009, 7:41 am

Although it maybe somewhat superficial to say but the general interface of this and other android smartphones seems toyish in comparison to the slick and professional looking winmos and iphones


May 13, 2009, 1:13 pm

Been waiting for this review. Looks great and I'm really tempted but have to see what Palm pull out of the bag first. Also the Samsung Android phone looked slick too.


May 13, 2009, 2:04 pm

@Ross: It's because a freelancer wrote the review and freelancers aren't paid to take photographs. As we haven't had the phone in the office ourselves we haven't been able to add our own photographs and we can't just steal other peoples pictures to make up the difference.

@ffrankmccaffery: I know what you mean but in the flesh these look and feel every bit as professional as any other smartphone.


May 13, 2009, 2:07 pm


I agree in part - i wonder if skinning will be the next big feature?

Good review guys. It's a nice handset, though I'm hoping the better looking, slightly better specced samsung i7500 will have the edge over this.


May 13, 2009, 2:53 pm

Shame this review was written by a freelancer who didn't have a vodafone magic (or if he did - hasn't mentioned the limitations of the Vodafone build). Recommend anyone looking a getting one of these should check out Vodafones e-forum on the magic to see the chatter this has generated. Changing from a winMo to the vodafone magic some of the things you lose are - Exchange Activesync (without a paid app), voice dialing) - I should know - I have one! If you can live without these things - it's a great phone (I'm learning to get by) - just be aware of the vodafone specific nuances!


May 13, 2009, 3:33 pm

Does anyone know of phone rental service? I want to really try out a touch screen phone before I commit and a 5-10 min demonstation in the shop just doesn't cut it.


May 13, 2009, 4:46 pm

@Williamn: never heard of one but you can buy a phone and get 7 days or so to return it no questions asked, not 100% sure if this is just online (i believe it can be bought in the shops as well but recently have heard different but that could be a sales person lying tbh) it doesnt hurt to ask what the returns policy is if the phone does not suit your needs.


May 13, 2009, 5:18 pm

I had a few minutes with a friends one the other day. Its a nice handset (a bit girly in white), very nice interface and screen, good apps and store. The feel is quite different to the iPhone, but its the first OS I've used that comes close. It'll be an exciting match between those two and the pre....

andre tropiq

May 13, 2009, 5:52 pm

I guess there's no pleasing some people, eh... ffrankmccaffery ?


May 13, 2009, 6:02 pm

I must say that I am a little surprised by the review. As I was reading it, the 'negatives' or 'slight downsides' repeatedly mentioned by the author were mounting up and seemed to outweigh any positives by far. By the time I finished the article I was very surprised about the '9 out of 10' and 'Recommended' rating.

This rating may be appropriate when comparing it to the only other Android phone currently available but surely not deserved when comparing it to the other host of Smartphones out there, whether WinMo or otherwise.

I've been using HTC WM phones for a few years now with my current one being the Diamond2 and therefore don't really know much about the Android OS, but after reading the article there doesn't seem to be anything the HTC Magic can do that my Diamond2 can't (but there's quite a lot my phone can do that the Magic can't!) - so why the high rating?


May 13, 2009, 6:58 pm


My brother bought a Touch HD online from Orange a few months back and he had a week in which to return it. He called up within the seven days to give it back but they took nearly a month to send him the pre-paid packaging to return it. He loved the phone and waited a little for the phone to come out before buying it. It might not work if you buy from a shop as it may have something to do with the distance selling regulations but just ask before you order. I'm tempted to do the same thing with the Magic.


May 13, 2009, 9:12 pm

I have an iPhone and a Blackberry Bold. I have just got my HTC Magic and have to say that its a great handset. Email works better on the Magic than on the iphone. The OS feels so much newer and advanced than the Bold. For me its a good mix of the two. I was a bit worried about the white handset but I think it looks better than my white iPhone.


May 14, 2009, 1:22 am


You're not meant to stick up for WinMo on TR!


May 14, 2009, 4:26 am

@ravmania: I do! I rather like WiMo 6.1, especially the Diamond2 ROM that I have running on my HD. Multi-tasking FTW!

I've also recently loaded a very very rough "emulation" of Cupcake Android (probably a ROM dump from the Magic) and I'm impressed with how fast the limited amount of functionality runs. Scrolling around the home screen is lightning fast and smooth! Fingers crossed XDA-Developers pull through and get it working 100%!


May 15, 2009, 2:20 pm


I agree, WinMo at present is a complete disaster and I wouldn't entertain using a WinMo phone without HTC's brilliant frontend or some other 3rd Party GUI (have used SPB stuff in the past) but I still think it's saving grace is it's depth of functionality, which is still unmatched by anything else out there.

I think the Diamond2 comes pretty close to giving the phone a pleasant GUI experience for all whilst still offering the under-the-hood advantages of WinMo.


May 21, 2009, 8:14 am

"...but it ties you into a relatively long 18-month contract."

We have 3 year contracts over here. So quit your complaining! :(


May 28, 2009, 5:58 pm

I wish it could be found on even slightly cheaper plans, as I'm really interested in either this or the Samsung I7500, but £35p/m is just slightly too expensive and I'd prefer a cheaper plan even if it meant a small upfront fee.

John E. Goldring

June 1, 2009, 2:00 pm

I was just looking at dialaphone and they are doing it cheaper than vodafone at £30 with 600 mins, unlimited txt and mobile internet? very tempting


January 25, 2010, 12:58 am

Having lived with this phone now for 6 months I can say I really wish I had stayed with my N95. Don't get me wrong the Android interface is very slick, if it can get enough memory to be slick with. If you don't install any additional apps then this is a great phone. If you want to personallise it with your own apps then be careful. Mine is now so slow and sluggish, reporting only 21MB free memory with nothing running! I can go to another app only to have to wait 20-30secs to return to the home screen, record has been 2 minutes after pressing home!! The boot up time is painful, then there is the total lack of bluetooth file transfers (BT only operates for audio), no flash on camera and despite the video review saying it has good low level abilities, it hasn't, you have to ask your subject to sit perfectly still for over 5 seconds to get a clear low light picture. What do I mean by low light? If you don't have daylight and are relying on artifical lighting then don't expect good pictures. This is a terrible phone which I no longer want and has turned me off of Android as well.


February 15, 2010, 5:26 am

I am a big fan of this phone but if you can wait for the next generation then do. Sometimes it is a bit slow and I think it struggles with a 16Gb card.

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