Despite all the hoopla surrounding Google's Android open-source operating system for smartphones, so far only one phone is available to date that actually runs the Android OS--the HTC Dream (also knon as the T-Mobile G1
). The HTC Dream is finally going to get some company in the form of only the second official Android phone to be announced--also from HTC--the HTC Magic.
The HTC Magic will start shipping in "the spring
," and it will initially only be available in Europe. European mobile phone service provider, Vodafone, snagged the initial exclusive rights to sell the HTC Magic in the U.K., Spain, Germany, and France (via SFR, which is co-owned by Vivendi and Vodafone). Vodafone claims that the HTC Magic will be "available from free on various price plans
." The only place the HTC Dream will initially be available where it will not tied exclusively to a contract with Vodafone, will be in Italy. HTC promises that the HTC Magic will be available in more countries at a later date, presumably including the U.S.
The HTC Magic announcement comes out of the Mobile World Congress 2009 trade show in Barcelona, Spain, a day after HTC announced its Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2
smartphones, which will also start shipping in the spring and which will initially be available only in the Europe and Asia.
The HTC Magic shares many similarities with the HTC Dream, such as a 3.2-inch QVGA touch-screen display, trackball, 3.2-megapixel camera, 3.5G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and microSD 2.0 support. They both include a full bevy of Google apps (Google Mail, Google Talk, Google Maps, Google Search, and YouTube), POP3 and IMAP support, an "Android-optimised Webkit browser
," and access to the Android Market
. Both models use the 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A processor, and include 256MB ROM and 192MB RAM.
What truly differentiates the HTC Magic from the HTC Dream is that the HTC Magic does not include a slide-out, five-row, QWERTY keyboard like the HTC Dream does. The HTC Magic is also about an ounce and a half lighter than the HTC Dream (4.18-ounces vs. 5.60-ounces) as well as being a slightly smaller device (4.45x2.17x0.54-inches vs. 4.60x2.16x0.62-inches). Lastly, the HTC Magic's 1,340mAh Lithium-Ion battery is rated to last longer (450 minutes talk time, 420 hours standby for GSM) than the HTC Dream's 1,150mAh Li-Ion battery (406 minutes talk time, 319 hours standby for GSM).
The future success of Andoid phones still remains to be seen. As of now, Android-based smartphones represent
only about 3-percent of smartphones making Internet requests in the U.S., according to AdMob. Until more mobile phone manufacturers release Android phones and more Android-based models make it onto the market, Android will remain to be little more than an interesting experiment in open-source mobile-phone technology.