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HTC Abracadabras the Android G2 into the "Magic," But Omits the Sparkle

We covered the leaked details of HTC's follow-up to the Android G1 cellphone that popped up a few weeks ago, but now the wraps have officially come off the device at Mobile World Congress. And the first thing to learn is that it's not called the G2—it's now the HTC Magic.

The G1, when it launched, was greeted with head-scratching by some due to its slightly utilitarian design—its side-sliding QWERTY keyboard, stubby shape and peculiar canted-upwards chin seemed inelegant in comparison with the handset it was mainly aimed at competing with, the iPhone. And though the naming scheme is different, the Magic is unmistakeably the G1's offspring from a design point of view. There's still that vaguely oval profile, deep body shell and oddly-pointed chin. But the device is overall sleeker, curvier, and probably feels better to hold—a parallel to the shape evolution the iPhone went through between versions one and two, perhaps.

Notably the Magic has altogether ditched the physical G1 keyboard—it relies on a virtual touchscreen keyboard that's been touted for months as the latest Android OS improvement, under the codename "cupcake." That's allowed HTC to shave a few millimeters of the device's depth, so it's now a slimmer 13.65mm versus the chunky 15.75mm of the G1. It's actually a smaller device all around—at 113 x 55mm it occupies less volume than the 118 x 56mm of the G1.

It still has the same screen though—a 3.5-inch unit—and the same 3.2-megapixel camera, but somehow squeezes in a bigger battery, at 1340mAh versus 1150mAh. So you'd think then that most of the innovation of the Magic has happened in its circuitry. Wrong. The Magic runs on the same Qualcomm MSM7201A processor at 528 MHz, supports the same Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols, same GPS and compass, and connects over the same GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA 2G and 3G networks.

In other words it's the same phone internally, with a few design tweaks and hardware changes. The device still has just 192MB of internal memory, relying on microSDHC cards for storage, and it still lacks a flash or LED unit for decent night-time photography or video-shooting. It will be released exclusively on Vodafone in a number of European countries at first, before going global. Vodafone's PR shtick gives the game away: The Magic is "a tablet-style device, with a sleek design and unprecedented compactness for a smart phone featuring the Android platform." There's no mention of advanced technology there.

Whereas the iPhone 3G was a thorough evolution on the original iPhone, in terms of design and internal hardware, it looks like the G2 is simply a repackaged G1. Assuming that it is the G2—we can only hope that HTC and Google have a proper successor to the G1 planned, and still under wraps.

[via PhoneArena, Vodafone]

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  • Kit Eaton

    Well, actually this phone _should_ be better than it is: HTC has had a while to tweak the processor, memory, screen tech and so on. I'm not knocking Android at all, it's a fabulous platform that represents the direction smartphones should take. It's just a shame that a piece of hardware that everyone thought would be the next-gen G1 is just essentially a newer "wrapper" around the same old electronic guts.

  • Patrick Sullivan

    "But Omits the Sparkle"??? I think you're trying to be cool by knocking everything that is cool. This is going to be a great phone and Android has endless possibilities. Let's hope that this is the major phone release for Verizon Wireless (owned in part by Vodafone) this year.