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    Review of HTC Magic Smartphone

    For our June test, we again deviated away from our usual testing of modems/networking gear and tested a Smartphone, the HTC Magic. First thing to ask why? Well these Smartphones are not just cell phones with pretty touch screen displays... They are turning (have turned into) small computers, complete with networking ability (Wi-Fi) we decided to review it from a networking/IT point of view, rather than the cell phone point of view.

    Thanks to the Blackberry (and then iPhone) explosion in the corporate world in the mid 2000.s voice calls are starting to become the secondary use of Smartphone.s. Texting, instant messaging and now internet surfing/applications (facebook, YouTube...). This is the second generation of Smartphone.s from HTC, which was looking to evolve their first generation of Smartphone.s, with more applications, better OS (android), more horsepower (cpu/memory) in a nice small footprint..

    At first glance, it.s a nice small, easy to use phone, the touchscreen works well and the Android OS works pretty well. If you are new to Smartphone.s, working the touchscreen and finding apps will take a day or two to get used to.. (Much like figuring out the first Nokia.s and Motorola phones in the 90.s). First impression, .Boy this phone sure takes a long time to boot!. (1 minute and 20 seconds). Which compared to a standard cell phone (eg: Motorola Razr) is considerably longer. The Android OS (ver 2) is pretty easy to navigate and find the applications you want. HTC has a few of their own apps, and right on the main screen is their Weather App... (Which HTC learnt through their research is one of the priorities users want on their phone... the weather forecast)... Apps work well, and the phone is easy to configure. Hit the menu button and in the right hand corner tap the settings box and up pop the configuration menu.s... Well laid out menus, not a lot of techno-garble in the headings, which make it easier for new users to find the options/settings they want. The Wi-Fi wireless was fairly easy to setup. Click .Wireless and Networks. in the .Settings. under settings and you can choose from turning on Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Settings, Bluetooth, VPN, and Mobile Networks (this is where your cellular provide sets up the cellular data network info, hint if you want to not use the cellular data network, turn off the .mobile network. and/or change the APN name under the mobile network settings.). Only one beef here (from a network engineer perspective, I.d like to see my IP address on the Wireless Screen.. not just .Connected to .., but that.s it, just a small suggestion..

    The Android OS and the Android Marketplace really works well, tons of app.s, many free, and best part, more and more apps everyday! A good example is that I found a free Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) spectrum analyzer, which worked amazing. It.s hard to equip all my staff with Cognios spectrum analysers ($$$), but if they use a simple free spectrum analyzer to do some first line troubleshooting, it would reduce the time they spend on the Helpdesk Ticket/call.

    The built in 3.2 Megapixel camera is pretty decent, and the camcorder feature is ok... Remember this is a phone... and not a pure built digital camera. It will not compare with your SLR camera or even your 10 megapixel regular digital camera. For example, the camera on this phone does a poor job of video and taking pictures at a distance over 30 feet in a poorly lit hockey arena. Also there is no flash... but remember this is a smartphone... having a flash will just help drain your battery quicker...

    One of the problems of surfing the internet on a Smartphone is that the screen is so small, and the majority of webpages are made to fit regular computer monitors and laptop screens. That said, if you are patient with this little phone, you will be able to surf the internet just fine! For a website that is quite wide, yes you will have to scroll the screen left and right, but that is expected on any Smartphone. YouTube videos run quite well, but the exception is when you start fast forwarding in the video a lot, and you have other web browser windows open, it will get choppy. This is not due to the Wi-Fi connection, but the fact that expecting this phone to do the work of a laptop which has a much strong CPU and more memory. I.m sure in future versions of Smartphone.s, you will see vendors installing more powerful CPU.s and more ram... while hopefully keeping the footprint small.

    One other issue is the absence of the regular 3.5mm headphone jack. The HTC supplied ones are ok, but chances are you want to use your existing superior headphones...

    What can separate a good Smartphone from the pack? Battery life. It.s not a glitzy glamorous topic but one of the most important topics. HTC says that you can get 660 hours on standby.. Great number.. But this is a Smartphone and is to be used for multiple things, texting, emailing, surfing, viewing video, GPS navigation, etc. Gone are the days when the phone was in your pocket waiting for someone to phone you... Expect Smartphone.s to be glued to users hands, always on, always sending and receiving data... You can expect on a full charge to operate for 48 hours in an average Smartphone usage (expect the user to be exchanging data and viewing data for at least 4 hours a day)... After a year, expect the battery to only last 24 hours before charging... In our testing, we achieved those numbers (vendor might not like us telling you that). What did we do Cell phone on, Wi-Fi on, Bluetooth on, Cellular Data on, GPS on (key!)? With all those .radios. turned on you will drain your battery faster (much faster with the GPS radio turned on!). For users who don.t need GPS turned on, please turn it on, you will see a dramatic decrease in battery usage. HTC has done their homework on designing, engineering and building excellent quality Smartphones. This Smartphone is a good solid product, and expect the next few generations to HTC Smartphones to be built off/evolved from this fine HTC Magic platform.

    Mark Breakdown:

    Category: Comments:

    Performance: For a Smartphone, performance was quite good, using EVDO (Cellular Data) websites and video loaded quickly, no choppiness on streaming video. There was choppiness when the user starts fast forwarding, and rewinding the video repeatedly. Voice and sms (texting) performance were excellent. the Wi-Fi had decent range, and speed.
    Excellent performance for a Smartphone. Remember this is NOT a laptop and you cannot expect laptop performance out of a Smartphone. Expect the next few generations of HTC Smartphones to have more RAM/CPU to satisfy users growing multimedia expectations.

    Supportability: Support for a Smartphone can be broken down into two catagories..

    1) OS (Android) and it's Apps.
    2) Hardware Phone support from HTC.

    In many cases, your cellular provider is your one stop shop for support, which is good.. BUT they are hardly ever completely up to date on their support documents.
    In this case, HTC has done a good job on it's website. Yes they point you back to your cellular provider, BUT they also provide plenty of support links, documentation, and manuals, even for discontinued phones! Well Done HTC. They also have a link to HTC user forums which are also quite helpful.

    HTC through their forums also has support for the Android OS to.. including the new updated firmware/OS.. Like the Apple iPhone, the Android OS forums (at HTC and elsewhere) provide so much information, ideas, fixes and warnings (of potentially poorly written apps).
    Ease of Use/Configuration: First time using a new Operating system, expecially a new Smartphone operating system can be a bit daunting at first. Android OS is well setup, hit the menu button and the menu's are simple and easy to figure out.
    I didn't see a 'first time use wizard' but I didn't read the manual at first either and just started banging away at the phone.. (I'm not a good user eh?)

    Compatibility: This phone will work on any GMS/HSPA cellular network, and the Wi-Fi will work with any hotspot, and has WPA2/AES encryption.. Great news..
    One downfall is that Smartphones are consumer based and currently it's hard for these phones to be managed by an enterprice, and integrated into your corporate network like a Blackberry could be.. There are ways to make these phones authenticate to Microsoft's Active Directory, and do printing.. BUT it's more of a hack to get it to work, as opposed to a simple confirguration...
    Also, the apps in the Android Marketplace are for Android only.. Yes many have been ported to or from iPhone/Blackberry's, but again, to make it in the corporate world, there has to be more and easier integration into the mainstream apps.. Android OS is gaining support form enterprise vendors such as SAP so it's a good start towards more seemless integration/compatibility.

    Features: Lots of great features, from the Android OS, to the Camera, to the Android Marketplace for apps, good Wi-Fi and GPS radios, make this feature filled Smartphone.
    Some features like the mediocre camera, and small headphone jack could use improvement, but are adequate..

    Personal: I really like this Smartphone, I like it better then a Blackberry, and as much as an iPhone.. Why isn't it a market leader.. Simply Advertising dollars. HTC doesn't spend more on advertising then they do on development..

    Well engineering phone from a technology point of view and well engineered from a users point of view (which many IT/technology vendors forget to do). Great Android OS, size, weight, and well built solid Smartphone.

    Overall: HTC has done a good job with this second generation Smartphone. Will it unseat Blackberry and the iPhone for market leader. No, BUT it's a very good Smartphone with not a lot of fanfare and expensive advertising.

    Expect the little grumbles about this phone to be fixed in the next generation of even better Smartphones from HTC.