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Hands on with the HTC Magic exclusively from SMART

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Because Rico shot this phone while we were dining at Soms tonight, I promised to have my short feature of the HTC Magic up before the morrow so that he could link back to my “scoop.” Before anything else, let me list the pricing scheme of the device which is available exclusively through SMART. The unit alone is quite expensive for a device that uses the Android platform at 39,900.00 (shouldn’t open source not have heavy licensing fees?).

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With a plan, the costs will look like this:

New Line Application
Plan 500 – P27,000
Plan 800 – P24,000
Plan 1200 – P20,000
Plan 1800 – P15,000
Plan 2500 – P9,500
Plan 3500 – P3,000

Retention Plan Renewal
Plan 500 – P26,500
Plan 800 – P23,500
Plan 1200 – P19,800
Plan 1800 – P14,800
Plan 2500 – P9,300
Plan 3500 – P2,900

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As you can see, there’s not much difference in terms of pricing whether you’re on retention or applying for a new line.

If you want a walk through of the Android OS, check out my first post with the T-Mobile G1 last year:

The UI philosophy behind the G1 is very different from the iPod touch / iPhone as the former is limited to three side scrolls and a taskbar which you can pull up at any time. The three menus contain apps, displayable widgets (like Google Chrome, you can convert apps into shortcuts or widgets onto the main menu), and a search bar. The taskbar displays all the apps you’ve installed. Widgets can be dragged around the screen by simply pressing and holding and then dragging them around.

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Nokia E71, HTC Magic, LG Arena

The HTC Magic is like a smooth bar of soap. Despite the plastic surface, the Magic looks very elegant and light to the touch with a small protrusion at the bottom of the phone similar to the Palm Pre’s design. The front buttons serve four functions — home, menu bar, back, and a dedicated search button. You also have your trackball, and two call buttons (one of which is also the power and sleep button).

Hands down, we’re seeing an improved version of the Android OS on the Magic. If Google keeps this up, we’re bound to see an OS in between Apple’s iPhone and Windows Mobile. The biggest strength of the Android OS, IMHO, is its integration with Google Apps. Right now I haven’t had the time to really configure the phone to work with Maps, GMail, GCal, and the like (not present — yet. Eek). I also noticed that the app marketplace wasn’t activated. I guess this is something that is launched in waves via a software update, hence this may be SMART’s responsibility. *shrug* Well, let’s see…

Nonetheless, the HTC Magic is a piece of beauty. It has a pretty fast user interface and minimal buttons. The scroll wheel is an added boon for browsing the Internet, but I found myself using it less and less when I got the hang of using the touch screen and menu buttons.

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So is the HTC Magic for you? Well, to be honest I found the price point a bit steep for an Android device (then again who really knows what the ideal price is for this …) but despite that, I’m liking the phone, even as just an everyday device which you can use for calling and sending SMS. The virtual QWERTY keypad is amazingly accurate, much better than the iPhone’s. Now that’s something.

Beaming photos via Bluetooth can be a bitch so I transferred everything to the microSD card and used a card reader. I had trouble turning the device into a target drive on my Mac with the USB cable, but at the same time I was able to charge directly from the USB plug. Very convenient.

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I’ll probably have to do another review of the Magic’s software component on another date as these are the items that make the Magic shine. To end, here’s a photo and video I took using the built in camera. The camera is pretty decent, processing shots exactly how they look in the viewfinder. Video’s pretty decent too.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

8 replies on “Hands on with the HTC Magic exclusively from SMART”

I just got my HTC Magic yesterday and it’s a mega-disappointment for me especially on two fronts:

1. NO GOOGLE MARKET – I read great reviews on the net on how you can get apps for the phone just like the iPhone app store but low and behold! The phone that Smart ships out doesn’t even have that. What the heck? I got the phone for the apps and now I discover I can’t install any. Sheesh.

2. NO GOOGLE SYNC – Okay so I’ve read that I can’t sync the Magic with my Mac. That’s okay because I also read that I can sync with google. So I exported my contacts to google in preparation for the delivery of my phone. On the day the phone arrives, low and behold, THERE’S NO GOOGLE SYNC CAPABILITY! I don’t know if this was disabled by Smart but this is such a let down. The implication of this is that I manually have to enter all of my friggin contacts one by one.

Strike 2 for the HTC Magic. Sheesh. Thank God I still have my iPhone and I am seriously thinking about trading in my Magic for a new iPhone. So guys, caveat emptor when buying this phone. Pretty to look at but pretty lousy in features.

Jayvee, have you heard any feedback on this from Smart on why the Google sync feature was disabled?

Cheers guys!

hey francis, you’re absolutely correct. in my initial review i thought that this feature was just not installed (store + sync) because the device eas new. apparently it REALLY didnt come with it. sad. i have to ask smart again if they have plans of reintegrating this. i think the store may be tricky because knowing how telcos work, you can’t just sell apps just like that — you need to go through a filipino owned 3rd party provider.

as for google sync let me get back to you.

Hi Jayvee, thanks for the review. I was planning on getting this phone but the absence of the android market app is very disappointing. Would you know how much RAM is in this phone? I read that there are 2 versions of this phone in terms of memory: 192/288MB.

I got the black HTC Magic in December. Upon opening it there’s nothing interesting to do. Applying the HTC Sense ROM upgrade will reveal its full capabilities. The ROM was posted in the HTC website last November 10. It will prompt you for your google username and password after the upgrade and that’s when everything becomes interesting. Market is now available and you get HTC Sense. It is now a thing of beauty. The hardware is similar to HTC hero except for the camera and flash. Make sure you apply the Singapore/Philippines ROM and not the Malaysia/Indonesia/Vietnam one as that one does not have Market. My unit was apparently registered as a Malaysia model and I couldn’t download the Singapore/Philippines ROM. Communicating with HTC and Smart was not at all helpful and gave me canned responses. I was able to get hold of the ROM upgrade and used the gold card method to override the carrier id check.

Does anyone know which kind of video information are supported? I bear in mind the Instinct solely might dl 3gp utilizing opera mini. I downloaded the twist ap, possibly that’s the problem? How can I watch videos from sites other than youtube? Which file varieties? Often I am given the option of 3gp or mpeg4. Can’t get both to work. Thanks in your time! Rattling I want I was eligible for the upgrade to EVO!

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