Lens-on with the Vodafone HTC Magic [UPDATED]

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It wasn’t quite final hardware (the face buttons are slightly different – a bit larger and round) and we weren’t allowed to touch the thing, but we just got back from spending a bit of time with the second-ever Android phone to make its way into a carrier’s line up. The HTC Magic, essentially a polished up and physical keyboard-less G1, totes a 3.2 megapixel camera, 3.2″ HVGA (480×320) capacitive touchscreen, on-screen keyboard, and all of the Google-powered services we’ve come to know and love with Android. Read on for our impressions.

Update: We just got to spend a bit of actual one-on-one time with the Magic, and walked away with a few more things to say.

What we like:

  • Without a slide-out layer, it’s quite slim – at least compared to the G1. As for the weight, we have no idea; as mentioned previously, we didn’t get to hold it. Update: The weighting is fantastic – it feels great in the hand.
  • Unlike many a candybar, accessing the microSD slot does not require removing the battery. You do have to remove the back panel, however.
  • It’s Android – and the most recent version, of that. They demonstrated many of the features of Cupcake, though we didn’t spot anything we haven’t already seen besides landscape support for the onscreen keyboard and accelerometer based autorotate (which is possible in the G1, but has been disabled in the official firmware)
  • Update: The onscreen keyboard is surprisingly easy to use. Even after years of practice with my iPhone, I’m still always pounding the wrong keys; the Magic’s keys are smaller, yet somehow my accuracy felt significantly improved.

What we don’t:

  • No physical keyboard. Rumors indicated as much, but we had hoped for a last minute surprise. It’s a step in the wrong direction – you just can’t beat a real keyboard.
  • The infamous chin (the odd angle of the bottom of the handset) from the G1 has found its way to the Magic – and it’s still not very attractive. Update: After spending a bit more time with it and comparing it to a G1, this chin isn’t anywhere as bad. As there’s no sliding layer and the body is just one piece, the transition between the main body area and the chin is far less drastic. It’s still not our favorite design ever, but the Magic’s chin is far less of an eyesore than the G1′s.
  • No 3.5mm jack – as with the G1 (and a ton of other HTC devices), you’ll need an adapter if you’re bringing your own pair of buds. Bleh!

We’re hoping to get a bit of one-on-one time with this one before we leave Barcelona – we’ll update you if our impressions change once we’ve actually pawed at it.

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