HTC waves Magic wand with Google Android smartphone

The HTC Magic is the second Google Android phone to be released in Australia and will be available on Vodafone and 3 Mobile

HTC Magic, powered by Google's Android operating system

HTC Magic, powered by Google's Android operating system

HTC today announced the launch of the second phone to feature the Google Android operating system in Australia: the HTC Magic.

The HTC Magic follows on from the first Android phone to hit the Australian market, the HTC Dream, which was launched in February 2009 on the Optus network.

The HTC Magic is lighter and thinner than the Dream, largely thanks to the absence of a physical QWERTY keyboard. Instead, the Magic utilises an on-screen keyboard, which became available in Google Android's 1.5 "cupcake" software update.

The HTC Magic is a 7.2Mbps HSDPA-capable phone that features Wi-Fi, a built-in GPS receiver, Bluetooth, a 3.2-megapixel camera with autofocus and a microSD card slot for extra storage. A standard 3.5mm headphone jack is a notable absence. The phone also features a 3.2in touch screen and a trackball for navigation. The Magic's touch screen lacks multi-touch technology, a key feature of Apple's iPhone 3G.

Features exclusive to the Android operating system include a single sign-in to access Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk applications, while Google Maps, Street View and Google's Latitude service are also available.

HTC will launch two versions of the Magic — one specifically for Vodafone named HTC Magic with Google, and the other for 3 Mobile, simply called HTC Magic.

The Vodafone version allows over-the-air updates via Google, features the ability to geotag your photos and will be available in an exclusive white version. It doesn't support Microsoft Exchange synchronisation or a document and PDF viewer out of the box, but both will be available as free downloads through the Android Market store. According to Google, more than 3200 free applications are available for Android, and paid apps for Australian users are "coming soon".

3's version doesn't support over-the-air updates (these will need to be performed manually though a PC), is available only in black and lacks the ability to geotag photos. However, it has Exchange support and a document and PDF viewer preinstalled and also features a smart dialler application that allows you to quickly find a contact in your phonebook. The 3 version won't be able to roam on Telstra's Next G network, as the Dream only supports 900/2100MHz 3G networks.

Vodafone has yet to announce pricing or plan details for the HTC Magic, though the carrier has confirmed that the phone will be available in stores on Monday 15 June. Vodafone will also offer a 24-month warranty at no extra cost.

“We’re delighted to confirm to our customers that they will be able to purchase the HTC Magic from Monday, June 15," said Edward Goff of Vodafone Australia. “We are very excited to bring this cool new phone to the Australian market."

3 has confirmed the handset will be available mid-June, and unveiled pricing and plan details. 3's HTC Dream is available on a range of plans, the cheapest of which will cost you $69 per month. This deal comprises of $29 per month for 3's 29 Cap plan, $24 per month for handset repayments and $10 per month for 1GB of X-Series mobile data.

3 only offers the HTC Magic for free on the $99 cap and above, but combined with the cheapest $10 data pack (1GB), this will cost $109 per month. 3 offers the X-Series data bundles with the HTC Magic at half their regular price — 1GB is $10, 2GB is $15 and the maximum 3GB is $20 per month.

"The response to this handset launch has been phenomenal. We’ve had hundreds of people pre-register for the HTC Magic and we anticipate many more people will pre-register for the handset on 3 before it is available in 3 stores mid June," said Noel Hamill of 3.

Both Vodafone and 3 are encouraging consumers to register their interest in the HTC Magic via dedicated sites.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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