Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hello Android

So my brand new Google phone - the HTC Magic - aka Google G2 aka Sapphire - arrived yesterday via fedex. HTCMagic-5
I'm not with Vodafone or 3 in Australia, and these are the only guys who seem to be offering the HTC Magic locally - and you'd need to be on an AUD$69 plan for two years to get one free (more than AUD$1600 over two years).
And to top it off, the white one they're offering in Australia is crippled with only 192MB memory - while the black one has the normal 288MB memory.

So I decided to buy mine outright - I got one for AUD$819 off ebay including 8GB Micro-SD card and fedex shipping to my door.
I ordered a white one with 288MB memory, as I thought the black one looked too much like a finger magnet from all the promo shots I saw.

I'm glad I got a white one - the HTC Magic is a very nice looking phone - slim, nice to hold and just barely bigger in overall size than my HTC Touch Diamond really - except that the screen is much bigger (though the resolution isn't).
It has a very nice screen though, bright and clear and the buttons are easy to press.
The tiny trackball is pretty funky - though from what I've seen so far it doesn't look like it's used a lot. There's no pointer or anything - and only apps like the browser or google maps seem to use it for anything other than another way of jumping between icons on the screen.

The Android operating system is very fast - you notice that when you start running things like the Browser, Gmail, and the messaging that it's extremely quick and easy to use.
I have a Google Apps for domains account and it synced my mail, contacts and calendar straight away.

The keyboard isn't as nice as the HTC Touch Diamond's one - the keys just seem a little too thin and I keep pressing the wrong ones even though I'm used to typing on a screen.
There's no shortcuts to symbols and numbers like the diamond has either - with the Diamond every key also displays the numeric/symbols that share those keys above it - and by pressing and holding the key for a second you get the latter without needing to switch modes. I've found this waaay faster for typing in stuff like numbers and punctuation. I've heard that the htc keyboard is available in the new hero/rosie builds though - so I have that to look forward to! ;)

Then I opened up the Market and was blown away by the sheer number of applications out there - and all of the ones I've tried so far have been of very good quality too.

I've found a few apps on the Market that I liked so far:
  • NetCounter is a useful app for keeping track of your data usage. Install this first!
  • Facebook Sync searched among my contacts for matching names on facebook and updated their picture in my contacts list.
  • ChompSMS is a iPhone like Messaging replacement that uses bubbles for messages and looks nice.
  • FBReaderJ is an awesome ebook reader - I was able to use lit2epub to convert my entire lit collection of ebooks over to epub - which is what the fbreader supports.
  • AndFTP is an ftp client that also supports sftp and ftps - great for accessing your home server while on the go!
  • ConnectBot is a ssh client that seems to have support for tunnels and stuff too.
  • Twidroid is a twitter app for Android that seems pretty cool - though beware that it checks every 5 minutes by default and this can drain your battery and chew up your bandwidth something terrible - so disable that like I did ;)
  • Linda File Manager seems like a nice file manager app - but not really needed to use it much yet.
  • WeatherBug offers a nice new widget for seeing the weather on your phone - in addition to a full app showing every weather detail you could want.
  • Robo Defense is a very cool tower defense game for the android platform - I've only played the free version so far but it's fun to play.
  • Bonsai Blast is a nice 'Zuma' style game for the android platform - free too which is nice.
And many many more.. It'll take me ages to discover all of them I'm sure.

Now the only real problem I've had with this phone so far.. is...funnily enough.. connecting it to the PC.
I've connected it to three different pc's so far using three different cables and the first time I connect it to each PC the phone reboots.
This seems like a problem with the version of android I'm running (which is a taiwanese Hami/Chungwha Telecom branded one) as I've asked around and noone else has experienced this issue.
Nevertheless, it happened to me - on three different machines - Windows 7 64-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit and Windows XP 32-bit.
In each case.. once the phone had rebooted it was detected fine and would charge, could mount the sd card, etc - and subsequent connections on those machines did not repeat the issue - so it's a once off.
But it's wierd anyway!

Apart from that small hiccup - I'm loving this phone - it's fast, works great, does everything I need it to do and more, and the app market is great so far!
Eventually I'll get to rooting the phone and trying out custom roms and stuff, but for now - I'm very content with the platform I have.

More photos of the HTC Magic are available on my flickr account.


  1. Hi, where you have buyed the phone?
    Can you give me a link ? ;)

  2. Hi MacLo - I got mine from the user 'imobilephonex' on ebay.

  3. I've got the retail black version of the HTC Magic as a media loan from 3 Mobile and it also reboots when connnected by USB

  4. Okey, so it's something about the 288MB hardware that seems to do it - as from what Iv'e heard the 192MB ones don't do it.
    It only seems to do it once for each new machine you hook up to it, so once you've plugged it into that machine once it's fine - you can plug it into that machine anytime after that and it'll never do it again.

    It doesn't seem to be related to OS at all either, as it's done it on Windows Vista 64-bit, Windows 7 RC1 64-bit and Windows XP SP3.
    I've asked around on #android and noone else seems to know why.

  5. I bought a Magic HTC, and a friend of mine which received it said it first boots HAMI, and then loads Android.

    I also saw horrible home screens for this HAMI on Youtube...

    I will get the phone in less than 10 days. Should I be worried? Should I contact the seller on ebay (he did not mentioned HAMI).