RealTime IT News

Android Magic for Sale in UK

The Android HTC Magic is available now for consumers in the UK who want to pre-order the phone from Vodafone, which is offering its first Android smartphone for free with a two-year contract.

The HTC Magic boasts a touchscreen with a QWERTY keyboard that supports cut-and-paste functions, rather than a slide out keyboard like the T-Mobile G1, and includes a search key designed to make using the phone's menu and Web browsing easier, according to a Vodafone Web site.

It also features stereo Bluetooth for audio, the ability to load pictures to Picasa Web Albums, and to record video and upload clips to YouTube.

Available in white, the HTC Magic has a 3.2-inch QVGA touch screen display, with accelerometer to change from portrait to landscape view and a variety of e-mail options such as Google Mail, POP3 and IMAP as well as Google Talk for instant messaging. The phone can synchronize with Google Calendar and contacts, and it comes with Google Maps with Street View for satellite view, traffic views and Google Latitude.

Other features include 500MB internal memory, with capacity for a 8GB external memory, removable battery and supports Quad-band GSM, dual-band UMTS, HSDPA/HSUPA, MMS , Wi-Fi, GPS and a 3.2 megapixel camera capable of video recording.

The pricing plan, according to Vodafone's Web site, includes unlimited mobile Internet; 600 voice minutes and unlimited texts. The phone will go on sale in stores starting May 5, according to the UK Telegraph.

Currently, the T-Mobile G1, launched last year and also from HTC, remains the only Android smartphone in the U.S. market. There will be two more models from HTC this year in the U.S. and Samsung is on tap to release a trio of Android-based models as well, while Acer has hinted that it may introduce a "non-Windows" smartphone this summer.

The HTC Magic news comes as insiders follow Android developments carefully, waiting to see how the T-Mobile G1 will fare in the US market. This buzz is being fueled by speculation that sales of smartphones using the Android platform will overtake the iPhone by 2012, as U.K.-based research firm Informa Telecoms and Media predicted in a recent report.

The reasoning goes like this: Android will be available on a wide variety of devices and mobile networks at different price points, and this widespread availability is bound to have an advantage over iPhones, which are available from one manufacturer -- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) -- and on a limited number of networks.

Another factor that might give Android phones the edge is that it may be easier for developers, compared to other major phone platforms. Google offers developers a standardized set of tools.

But while Google officials remain bullish on Android, with CEO Eric Schmidt saying during an earnings call recently that 2009 will be a strong year for Android, the press is getting antsy over the scant news on specific launch dates from manufacturers and the lack of any actual product roll out.

Meanwhile, in non-Android developments, handset makers are gunning for position in the smartphone market, with signature releases slated for this summer. They include the do-or-die Pre from Palm, the rumored new iPhones from Apple and new BlackBerry models from Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM).