G1 or Magic?

by Volker Weber


You know you want an Android phone, but you don't know which one? G1 or HTC Magic? For me this is easier to decide than I thought it would be.

Both have their advantages: The G1 has a slide out keyboard, or rather a slide out screen which reveals the keyboard. The Magic has a slightly larger battery (1340 mAh vs 1150), is lighter and smaller, and looks more sophisticated.

Both phones charge over USB. Period. They come with a 1A charger, while all my BlackBerry chargers only deliver 0.5A. USB 2.0 vs. 1.1 so to speak. So even if you do need a recharge once in a while, you will have lots of opportunities to do so.

And they share disadvantages: No headphone jack. Neither 2.5 nor 3.5 mm. They only work with the included crappy headphones that plug into the USB port. You can't even charge the phone and listen to music at the same time. Does it matter? They don't even have a decent media player.

And: Bad, bad battery life. Much worse than an iPhone. No wonder there are tons of little utilities that switch off power hungry components at the tip of a button.

And still: The G1 is great fun. There is more software than I thought there would be. And I like the keyboard. I even like the design, which I did not expect.

The Magic has an almost Apple-like design. It has the much better trackball. But without the keyboard, it's going back to Vodafone in two weeks. The G1 wins an editor refuses to give it back award.

But there, just beyond the horizon, there is a Samsung Android phone waiting. Chances are, one will find its way to vowe's magic flying circus.


You can buy an adapter to a 3.5mm head phone jack. It also sports another USB jack, so that you can listen to music while charging.

Not that this is a good or elegant solution, but it works.

I theoretically use the Rock On music player. It shows potential, but is still at the beginning of its life.
In reality I still carry my iphone without the SIM card around. So I can still listen to music that is synced with iTunes.

How is the battery life of the Magic compared to the G1?

Are you using Cupcake on both? The G1 of my girlfriend was usually down to 10-15% at the end of the day (low usage) with Android 1.1. With 1.5 (Cupcake) it is at 25-30%, or so it seems.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-05-14

I am on 1.5 on both phones. It's too early to say how they compare, but the battery capacity might be a good indication.

Volker Weber, 2009-05-14

Volker, good choice to take the G1. I also like the keyboard, it remembers me at a Psion 3C :-)

Mariano, the problem with this kind of adapter is the size. i know this from other HTC phones. Too large to take with you.

Roland Dressler, 2009-05-14

@Roland, yeah, that's what I meant when saying it's not elegant. I always have this adapter in a pocket of my jacket, but have only used it once in the last three months.

It is also annoying that there are no hardware controls to control music playback or at least some secret handshake like the iphone's double press on the home button to bring up the player's on-screen controls.

Currently the Android devices are just not setup for casual media consumption.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-05-14

Ich habe mein G1 seit gestern, und alle wesentlichen Funktionen, weswegen ich gerne ein iPhone gehabt hätte, sind auch auf dem G1 möglich. Soweit absolut zufrieden.

Negativpunkt: Es ist etwas wackelig, bei meinem Gerät erzeugt zudem der Druck auf den rechten unteren Bereich des Touchscreens ein deutlich hörbares "knacken". Anscheinend normal, wie in mehreren Foren zu lesen. Ein an der richtigen Stelle aufgebrachter Puffer (Klebeband o. ä.) soll wohl für Abhilfe sorgen.

Womit übrigens auch iPhone-Besitzer neidisch zu machen sind, ist der "Metall-Detektor" (gratis über den Appstore). Würde mich aber nicht darauf verlassen, wenn's ans bohren geht ;-).

Tobias Berns, 2009-05-15

Was dem Androiden leider fehlt ist Exchange Unterstützung.

Und, was hier auch noch nicht angesprochen wurde: Kann 1.5 inzwischen auch Applikation auf die Speicherkarte installieren oder geht nach das nach wie vor nur in den spärlichen Hauptspeicher?

Das ist meiner Meinung nach der Hauptnegativpunkt am Google Handy. Was will ich mit nur 70Mb?

Roland Dressler, 2009-05-15

@Tobias, the next gen iphone is rumored to have a compass/metal detector too.

@Roland, nope, there is still no official support. With a rooted phone you can have it though: http://androidcommunity.com/forums/f7/new-apps2sd-method-for-jf1-5-a-17249/

For me this has not been a real world problem though. I don't have any apps that misbehave by writing their data to the phone memory and I don't need 70+ apps on my phone.

I think it is more annoying that when the SD card is mounted on your PC, the apps on the phone can't write to it anymore. But I believe that this is an issue with FAT32, so maybe I shouldn't blame Android for it.
Anyway, this issue and the fact that there isn't a single storage for data/apps makes for a complicated user experience. It is hard to make this whole thing transparent to the user.
I dealt with it in different ways and haven't found the golden bullet yet.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-05-15

Tethered internet is what the G1 is missing and that's why I sold mine again.

I expect my phone to be able to act as a bluetooth modem with my computer...without hacking.

And no, I refuse to use a 3G-USB stick. I want one Sim that can do it all. For now the E90 stays.

Johannes Matzke, 2009-05-15

@Johannes, as your probably know the G1 can do tethering when rooted. And afaik the problem is that, as with the iphone, the mobile operators don't want this feature.

Any idea why the mobile operators don't object to tethering on the E90?

Mariano Kamp, 2009-05-15

Well, if Johannes has a working E90, there is not much need to swap it with a G1. It's almost the perfect phone. The G1 turns out to be pretty limited in terms of USB tethering and Bluetooth. Not that I would need it.

I'd wish though that iPhoto would recognize the camera images, when it's mounted.

Volker Weber, 2009-05-15

Anwendungen wie "WIKITUDE - AR TRAVEL GUIDE" oder "Sky Map" sind einfach genial und eben nur für Android verfügbar.

Thilo Hamberger, 2009-05-15

Geniales Spielzeug, in der Tat. Aber braucht man das so oft, nachdem man einmal drüber gestaunt hat?

Volker Weber, 2009-05-15

Thema "knacken", bzw. schlechte Spaltmaße, ich habe jetzt folgendes gemacht: Es gibt diese kleinen Türdämpfer, die an eine Kontaktlinse erinnern. Unter Zuhilfenahme eines Maniküre-Sets habe ich einen davon sehr flach gefeilt und von hinten auf den Slider-Mechanismus geklebt. Problem (bisher) behoben.

@Mariano just tried Newsrob. Great App!

Tobias Berns, 2009-05-15

Komisch, mich stört das Knacken überhaupt nicht.

Volker Weber, 2009-05-15

Es war bei mir auch nicht nur das knackende Geräusch, sondern auch das fühlbare Zurückfedern des Touchscreens.

Tobias Berns, 2009-05-15

Hi Volker,

I've been using an iPhone for over a year (actually I still am, but only as a secondary or sometimes tertiary phone) and have switched away from it once I had the music setup working nicely on my G1.

Yes, the missing headset jack on the G1 is really annoying. It almost made me build an adapter for the HTC mini-USB to the proprietary iPhone headset socket to cobble up my in-ears. I was really close; I had already cut up another HTC headset and ordered an iPhone socket. Then Cupcake was released.

Things have changed for the better. Cupcake has good support for A2DP. My Sony-Ericsson HBH-DS780 headset, which I'd almost sold a couple of months ago because of the bad audio quality I encountered under OSX works (almost) flawlessly with my G1. OK, there were a couple of pair/unpair dances to go through before it was coupled correctly. Ever since, though: no issues! Moreover, the sound quality is great. Turns out, there's different modes for A2DP. I'm not exactly sure yet where OSX is screwing up here, whether it's using SBC or something else, at the moment I don't even care enough to investigate. Maybe I'll file a bug on it or whip out my Bluetooth sniffer one day.

Anyway. What I wanted to say. You *should* definitely consider switching to a G1 or another Android phone. Especially if you miss the keyboard on your iPhone (I did). It makes ADD all the worse because it can actually do multiple things at once, yet it's a great phone because of that.

As for the battery life: *sigh*. that is a downside. There are tricks to conserve battery though and the Bluetooth usage did not seem to considerably cut into my battery time. GPS is really bad though, as is 3G usage (I'm usually switched to 2G unless I really need the speed).


Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, 2009-05-16

As for tethering: Try tetherbot if you don't want to root your G1. I'm running an OpenVPN server on port 443 these days (yes, I can hear you guys vomit: IP tunneled over a stateful protocol like TCP isn't a pretty sight. sorry.) which together with tetherbot gives me full internet access. If you're fine with a SOCKS proxy: yes, tetherbot does that as well, no need for a server here.

Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, 2009-05-16

@Tobias, danke, freut mich ;-)
Wegen des Knarzens ... ich habe mein G1 seit Dezember und die mechanische Qualität hat sich zumindest nicht merklich verschlechtert.
Und die Qualität scheint auch unterschiedlich auszufallen.
Ich bin mit der Qualität meines G1 zufrieden, aber meine Freundin hat im Februar ein weißes G1 gekauft und die Qualität (Tastatur, Knarzen) ist merklich besser als bei meinem.

@Ralf, can you control media playback with your bluetooth headset?

Mariano Kamp, 2009-05-16

Re the G1, the hardware looks a bit “plastic-y” to me, but presumably that’s not the case? It also seems quite thick, which surprises me given the poor battery life (I was assuming the battery life was bad because the cell was small).

Ben Poole, 2009-05-20

Just found this in researching the forthcoming Samsung “Galaxy” (formerly known as “I7500”). Looks like it’s out later this summer in France and Germany, not sure about other territories.

Youtube: Samsung i7500 android Hands-On

It has a sensible 3.5mm jack, and a decent-looking screen.

Ben Poole, 2009-05-20

@Ben, imho at least the white G1 looks as good as the white iPhone. Also the build quality is good.

The black G1, which I have, looks ok out of the box, maybe a tiny little bit on the cheap side. It looks better in reality as on the pictures.

I have an extra long life battery though, that comes with its own back battery cover and that is not only very large (+50% total thickness), but also built from butt ugly cheap plastic (think camping chair, 12 summers old).
With the size the whole phone now looks like it jumped out of an '80 movie.

The i7500 doesn't have a keyboard and that's half the fun of the G1.

Mariano Kamp, 2009-05-20

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