The second Google phone arrives: smarter looks, a neater shape and a better button layout. It uses the improved latest Android software (version 1.5, sweetly called Cupcake). Android is slick and effective, like the Magic’s impressive touchscreen. Music is not so good, mind.
What we like
The Magic is a highly enjoyable phone to use. The screen looks good (though it lacks the iPhone’s colour richness) and the Google text box dominates. Extensive home screen configuration options mean you can sideline this box. It reappears when you touch the new hardware search button found below the screen. There’s also a navigation ball which whizzes you round the display effectively.
The screen is very responsive and pleasingly fast, with one touch of the on-screen menu tab sweeping all your installed apps into view. Key to these is the Android Market icon where apps are mostly still free.
Entering text for emails or SMS is fine on the virtual keypad, though easier in landscape mode. Optional haptic feedback makes typing simpler. If you found the iPhone just that bit too big, you’ll prefer the sleek, smaller profile of the Magic.
What we don’t like
On the other hand, the iPhone is an unbeatably good phone for music. Here, music is saved to the removable memory card, found under the back cover (though at least not behind the battery). Worse, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. The Magic isn’t positioned as a music phone, but this is still a big disappointment. The 3.2-megapixel camera has no flash and, worse, unacceptable shutter lag.
Android is great, but lacks built-in apps. So although weather apps are easily downloaded, they lack Apple’s style. Battery life is also only average – one day. Worse, the edges of the screen aren’t as sensitive as the central area, so texting needs care. The space key and letter P, for instance, are easily mis-pressed as they’re on the extremities.
Other niggles are minor. Like the supplied pristine-white soft case: it becomes stained with blue after just minutes in a jeans back pocket.
This is an elegant, responsive and easy-to-use touchscreen phone. It’s not as stylish as the iPhone it’ll be measured against, but it’s still a looker and noticeably more pocketable. It lacks a headphone jack, a decent camera and most of the apps in the Android app store are still finding their feet. If you can overlook its shortcomings then this is one of the best touchscreen phones out there.