I’m going to do this in a few parts:
Unboxing and initial impressions
My first app for the HTC Magic
Any updates to the impressions after my Vodacom
sim card starts working
Review after a week
On Friday morning I finally got the call that the phone had arrived at Vodashop Rivonia, unfortunately my HTC TyTn has a *really* bad camera so the pics from the shop didn’t come out too well. The process signup was pretty smooth, although it took almost an hour to get completed. (The shop didn’t have the HTC Magic on various lists and they all needed to get updated, and then the manager needed to do some approval but he’d popped out)
The phone came with a full battery charge (possibly because Vodacom updated the ROMs on the phones before selling them) which was great – no need to charge it before you can play with it. Since I’m porting form MTN to Vodacom, I need to wait for the port to complete before I can actually make calls on the phone, so I’ll be writing another post to give any updated impressions of the phone once I can use it to make calls and such.
I’ve had 2 other HTC phones and this packaging was probably one of the cooler ones that I can remember. Nice and compact, and easy to open. Relatively minimal clutter on the packaging.
Once you take off the outer shell, you see the phone, covered by a plastic film that says “Important – to prevent damage, do not apply excessive pressure to the screen or device case. Please remove the device from your pants pocket before sitting down. For more details, see the Quick Start Guide.” Now I’m assuming that this must not be present on the phones sold in the UK for two reasons. Firstly, UK people would have to wonder why anyone would keep their phone in their underwear, and might be wondering about the logic in placing a pocket in one’s underwear. Secondly, its assuming that everyone who uses this phone wears trousers and not skirts/dresses which is semi-sexist. Sorry ladies/gents, you can’t use this phone if you’re wearing a dress!
Underneath the cardboard that the phone is resting on, is the rest of the contents of the box which looks like this:
Going from left to right and top to bottom, those are: Charger, Accessories booklet, Corded earphones, HTC Care booklet, Warranty Statement, USB Cable, Quick Start Guide, Battery (below the guide), slim “leather” case, phone, and the cover with the warning described above.
What you’ll notice, if you compare this list of goodies with the list of goodies that Vodafone UK customers get, you’ll see that we’re missing the USB to Headphone jack converter cable. HTC (in their usual style) don’t give you a Headphone jack to plug into on the phone so you have to use their USB headphones. Vodafone UK clearly saw this downfall and rectified it by including a USB to Headphone jack converter cable, while Vodacom decided not to do that.
While I’m happily bashing Vodacom and praising Vodafone, my initial look at the Vodafone offering showed that they get the “with Google” branded phones which means that they’re missing a few apps that the Vodacom guys do get. You can see the spec’s of the two phones here: HTC Magic “with google” vs HTC Magic (not “with google”) . From what I can see on the spec sheets here’s the bonuses of getting the one that is NOT branded “with google”:
288mb RAM instead of 198mb, “A2DP for wireless stereo headsets”, HTC Sync (for syncronising data with your PC), Microsoft® Exchange Server synchronization
[HTC Magic Comparison]
BUT there is more that they don’t tell you…the phones not branded “with google “ get:
“HTC Mail” which besides being their Exchange integration, also does POP3 and IMAP mail
PDF Viewer – for viewing PDF’s
Quick Office – for viewing MS Office documents
So on the whole Vodacom are getting us a better deal than the Vodafone guys. I’d be really impressed if there were no downsides, but there is just one (even though it’s not Vodacom’s fault). The HTC Magic’s sold by Vodafone include Android Market which is where most of the great Android applications can be found. It’s like selling the iPhone without the App Store, or a car without some place to “pimp it out”. As far as I’ve been able to tell, most of this is under Google’s control, so there’s not much that Vodacom or Leaf can do.
What they have done is to create their own “Open Market” which is a great idea except that it doesn’t yet have many apps. And as luck would have it, as I start trying to list some now their application starts off hanging (causing Android to try to close it as a non-responsive application) and then tells me that my device has not been given access to the Open Market and that I should contact my provider.
If you want to get apps I’ve found a few ways of getting them:
Go to Cyrket
(pronounced like Circuit), there you can find the app, then do a google search and hope that the developer has provided a direct download. If not, PLEASE take the time to email the developer and ask them to make it available elsewhere. I’ve found 3 or 4 developers who have been more than happy to send me a direct link to their software.
Android Freeware (http://www.androidfreeware.net/) I am not linking directly to it because their apps just seemed dodgy, like the “Facebook” app which really is just a shortcut to launching http://m.facebook.com
– Just google for: Android Weather download, or Android Geocaching download. It takes a while, but its been one of the best ways for me to get some nice apps.
If you’re a geek, you can take a look at http://code.google.com, then search for Android apps, download the source, open it in Eclipse, build the project, and then transfer the resulting .apk to your phone. That’s how I got ZXing – the Barcode scanner – on my phone. I’m not sure of the legalities of posting a link to the apk, so I won’t do it just yet. I’ve also got a really basic Solitaire app too. Some of the projects even link directly to their own APK, like GeoBeagle (A GeoCaching application for Android)
On the whole I’m really happy with the phone even though the lack of applications is slightly frustrating. Apparently it took 6-8 months before Australia got the Android Market, and even then they only got access to the free apps so hopefully this will be fixed in time. But until then we’re at the mercy of Leaf, Handango, Handmark, Mobihand, and the developers of applications. If I think about the trade off – Android Market vs all the benefits of the non “with google” phone, I think we’re better off without the Market for now.