The HTC Magic is a good choice for anyone looking for a decent all-round smartphone, particularly if you are a user of Google's services, although it might not meet the advanced requirements of business users.
Large touch-screen; lightweight, attractive design; integration with Google apps.
No default support for Google Docs; can drop characters when typing.
Free on a £30 monthly contract from Vodafone
The HTC Magic bears some similarities to the original G1, although it lacks the physical keyboard and the lines are a lot smoother. Like its predecessor, the Magic has a large 3.2in touch-screen, below which is a trackball and six keys to help drive the device.
The lack of keyboard makes the Magic a lot lighter and slimmer than the G1. It measures 113mm x 55mm x 14mm and weighs in at 119g, making it a lot more pocket friendly while packing a bit more of a punch under the hood.
Although it runs the same Qualcomm MSM7200A 528MHz processor and gives users access to the same 192MB of system memory, the capacity of the ROM has been increased from 256MB to 512MB and storage is expandable to 8GB through a microSD card slot located under the battery cover.
Like the rest of the interface, the virtual keyboard uses the built-in accelerometer to automatically adjust between portrait and landscape mode depending on how the phone is oriented. The keys in portrait mode are quite small, but are usually fine for short entries. In landscape mode the layout is excellent, but fast typists may struggle as the phone sometimes battles to keep up, occasionally missing letters if the typing is too quick. There is also an auto-complete and correct option to provide suggestions while entering text.
Running Android means that the Magic has very tight integration with Google's range of services. The potential downside to this is that you have to have a Google Mail account to use the phone, but if you are a prolific user of Google then over-the-air synchronisation with email, calendar, contacts and instant messaging is all completely automatic.
Although the HTC Magic showcases a lot of the improvements to Android over the past year or so, the platform is clearly not designed for business users. As yet there is no default support for Google Docs, although there is a third-party application that can handle it, and the normal email client is functional but may be lacking the polish that a heavy business email user would want.
One of the most attractive features of Android is the app store that has grown up around it. With hundreds of applications available from Android Market to cover just about every conceivable requirement, its easy to make the Magic a lot more than just a phone.
Interestingly, you are unable to close down applications running in Android. This generally doesn't cause a problem, as the operating system has a very good memory manager, but it can be an added drain on the battery and data usage. It can also be frustrating, for instance when using a navigation application which continues to give voice directions as you move around. Fortunately there are applications available from the Android Market designed to shut down running programs.