Meet The iPhone Terminator: The World’s Best Mobile Phone

Photo courtesy of HTC and androidcommunity.com

With apologies to Arnold’s infamous line, all we can say to iPhone enthusiasts of the world is that once you try this Android phone, you won’t ever go back. Google has done for the mobile phone what Apple did with Mac OS X except Google also opened up the hardware platform. Unfortunately, Apple opted for locked and proprietary hardware and software in rolling out its iPhone. Now that the second-generation Android phones are appearing, the difference is palpable.

Update. There’s now a third-generation Android phone that’s even better than this one. You can read all about it in our latest article.

Choosing the World’s Best Cell Phone is obviously fraught with peril. All other things being equal we would have bestowed the honor on Nokia’s E71 which we reviewed recently and have personally used until a month ago. That’s when we jumped into the Android World which we will tell you up front is still a bit of a work in progress. But, all we can say is WOW! The openness, the technology, and the creativity showcased in the new Android phones point to an inescapable conclusion. Google once again has struck the Mother Lode. Seeing is believing as they say. And today we’ll digress from our usual format to bring you a pictorial tour of the HTC Magic. No. You don’t have to carry a white one like Arnold. Heh. A shiny black one is readily available. We actually had planned to walk through the process of rooting the phone, but we’ll leave that for another day primarily because this mobile phone provides sufficient flexibility in its native state to deliver an almost perfect cellphone experience even without root access.

We’ve already covered our objections to the iPhone in a previous article so we won’t repeat them here other than to note that SIP clients can’t run in the background on an iPhone which makes them next to worthless for inbound calls. Yes, there are kludgey workarounds, but these open yet another can of worms. We’ll dispose of the Nokia product line by telling you they’re headed in the wrong direction just like Microsoft with the wrong operating system(s), the wrong product design, and the wrong technology mix. Just when the world is finally looking for a mobile platform that provides flexibility in transitioning between the cellular networks, WiFi, and WiMax, Nokia kills the SIP stack and SIP client on its entire line of new cellphones. So a company that once was THE innovative cell phone manufacturer in the world suddenly is looking a bit like Yahoo, lots of thrashing around but no cigar. Sadly, it’s mostly the result of self-inflicted wounds. But we’re not going to dwell on the past today. We’re going to look at what the future holds in mobile communications. And the one word that best sums up our hopes for future mobile telephony is Google… more precisely, Google’s totally open source Android Platform.

So let’s again go about this by the book… with a requirements analysis! You can match it to your own wish list. We want a cellphone that makes cellular calls from most locations, and we want the ability to decide which cell provider we use depending upon where we are. We want the option to make phone calls through our own SIP provider, or Asterisk® server, or Google Voice whenever we feel like it with or without a Wi-Fi connection. And, of course, we want VoIP Prioritization. This means we want our cell phone to prioritize incoming and outgoing calls by attempting to use VoIP services first, cellphone carrier second. We also want to be able to check our email using gMail, POP3 and IMAP servers at 3G data speeds. For the business community, we also think Microsoft Exchange support is indispensable. When we need to send or receive something on our notebook computer and there’s no WiFi around, we want our cellphone to provide data connectivity. We’re not going to be downloading movies and 1,000-page books all day long. We just want to get an important file attachment from the office so we can read it on a normal screen. If the cellphone provided a PDF viewer, so much the better. And, finally, we’d like a QWERTY keyboard for messaging, and we want to be able to change our own battery, add a memory chip, and swap out SIM cards whenever we’d like. We also want the ability to gain root access should we ever wish to do so. After all, it’s our phone! Bluetooth for phone calls and A2DP for music in the car would be great, and a good camera as well as GPS functionality would be nice to have on the phone as well. For those in the U.S., we’d add one additional requirement: support for AT&T’s 3G network so you’re not stuck with T-Mobile’s dog-slow (and incompatible) wireless data network. Most of the Android phones currently flunk this test leaving you with nothing but EDGE service if you use a provider other than T-Mobile. Of course, with T-Mobile, you get mostly EDGE service in the U.S. as well. :roll:

And the winner is…

Our pick is the unlocked Rogers HTC Magic phone, the only Android phone that we could find which supported rooting and AT&T’s 3G network in the U.S… albeit from a Canadian provider. That’s the price U.S. consumers pay for a government that continually rewards the telephone oligopoly with exclusivity rip-offs. So how does the HTC Magic stack up to our wish list? We’d give it a 94. It does everything on our Wish List… and more. The images which follow incidentally were taken using the screen capture utility that’s part of the Android 1.5 SDK. It is easily installed on either a Windows or Linux PC or your favorite Mac (except Snow Leopard for the moment). There’s a great tutorial on how to install the Android SDK as well as a YouTube video and tutorial on rooting the Rogers HTC Magic phone should you desire further information on those topics.

Getting Started. Before proceeding, set yourself up a Gmail account if you don’t already have one. As with most provider-specific cellphones, this HTC Magic phone is hard-coded to the Rogers network in Canada. Assuming you want to use AT&T’s network in the U.S., step #1 is to enter AT&T APN settings when you first turn on the phone. After inserting the AT&T SIM and booting the phone, press the Menu key before doing anything else. Next click Add APN. Enter the following values leaving the remaining fields blank:

Name: att
APN: wap.cingular
Password: CINGULAR1

Now press the Menu button again and choose Save. For other providers, try this Google Search.

Main Screen. Once you’ve entered your Gmail credentials, the phone will boot and display a Main menu. It actually is three screens wide. You can move to the other screens by swiping your finger to the left or to the right. You’ll notice a thumb tab at the bottom of the display. By dragging this up, you can access all of the other applications on the phone. Move it back out of the way by dragging it back down or pressing the Back button (←) which is the third from the left button just below the screen display.

Applications. Here’s the first page of our Applications. You scroll through the list using the trackball, or you can drag your finger vertically on the screen to reposition the display up or down. Tapping on an entry starts the application. Pressing the Home button on the far left just below the screen display returns you to the Main Screen. Every app is displayed in this listing except for Widgets. Widgets are more like scripts and typically are used to toggle functions on and off. In the left Main screen above are four widgets to toggle WiFi, BlueTooth, GPS, and Ringer/Vibrate/Silent functions of the phone.

Android Market. All of these applications didn’t necessarily come with the phone. Google’s Android Market has been set up for developers to display their wares. You can become a developer, too. And, unlike the iPhone apps, most of the Android apps still are free. Just another advantage to open source technology. To access the Market from your phone, just choose the Market app and follow the intuitive menus. There’s a great Search function. Again, unlike the iPhone, these applications get stored on a MicroSD card. A 2GB card comes with the phone. Do yourself a favor and start with a $50 16GB card.

Messaging. As you might expect from Google, the Android platform excels at messaging of all flavors. Whether it’s text messaging, Gmail, or POP3/IMAP email connectivity, Android has you covered (see above). And the support for Microsoft Exchange is nothing short of brilliant. In the social networking department, there’s full-featured support for Twitter and Facebook, among others. Using the Search function in the Android Market, you can have your phone set up with your favorite tools in just a few minutes.

Android Security. Securing your phone is also nothing short of brilliant on the Android 1.5 platform. Simply draw an unlock code pattern using your finger, and that becomes the signature for future access to your cellphone. Also works pretty well as a sobriety test. :-) If you can’t unlock your phone, don’t unlock your car! You also can lock your SIM card to your phone and set a password if you’re nervous about losing your $500 crown jewel. What the security system really demonstrates is that the open source community has nothing to apologize for. The quality of this software is every bit as good if not better than the software produced by the other cellphone players.

Placing Calls. Yes, we hear you. What about making phone calls? You’ll be pleased to know that the HTC Magic can do that, too. We were just saving the best for last. In fact, this phone can make calls in three different ways: through your cellphone provider, through SIP using your Asterisk server or another provider, and through Google Voice. Once you install the Google Voice application from the Android Market, simply configure it with either your cellphone number or an intermediate provider such as SIPgate or IPkall. You then have a choice of whether to make Google Voice the primary or secondary calling source. Or you can choose to be prompted for each call as shown above. Google Voice calls that go out through your WiFi data network connection incur no charges in the U.S. and Canada.

SIP calls are placed using the SIPdroid application which also is available in the Android Market. Shown to the left is a sample setup for SIPdroid to connect to your Asterisk server on a private home network. In the SIPdroid Call Options, specify whether to use WiFi and/or 3G/EDGE for the SIP calls. And set a preference for how your calls should be placed, i.e. cellphone carrier or SIP. The only tricky part is the Extension Settings on your Asterisk server. Just create an extension in the usual way using FreePBX. But make sure your settings include the following entries: canreinvite=no, nat=yes, and qualify=no.

To route outbound calls through SipDroid instead of your cellphone provider, just append + to the end of the phone number. You can generate a + symbol on your phone keypad with a long press of the 0 button.

Android Backups. No article would be complete without some mention of backups. The Android platform currently supports four options: Android images, MyBackup, and Google and Exchange Synchronization. Android images can only be created if you gain root access to your phone or load a different image on your phone. MyBackup is a $9.95 app from the Android Market that lets you backup your Applications and Data separately onto your MicroSD card. Unless you’re a techie, it’s well worth the money. Google and Exchange Synchronization you will find under Settings, Data Synchronization. With Google Sync, you can back up your Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts data automatically and as a background task. Be sure to activate it. Finally, you’ll see displayed above a browser display from mundy.org/whereib that you may find helpful from time to time. It displays not only a map of your current location based upon your IP address, but also shows your public IP address.

Android 3Gtest. We’ll leave you with a hot tip about one additional application: 3Gtest. Just download and install it from the Android Market and then run it. You’ll be amazed by the results. Not only will it tell you how good your upload and download speeds are, it also will tell you some interesting tidbits about whether your provider is living up to their oft-repeated promise of Net Neutrality. Our download 3G speed in Charleston, South Carolina was actually close to T-1 performance. Interestingly, our upload speed was pitiful… about as fast as a circa 1860’s telegraph machine.

Android System Backup. We said we weren’t going to cover rooting your phone, but we do want to point you in the right direction and also show you how to get a perfect image backup of your phone. If you’re not comfortable entering system commands, stop here! We are Mac snobs so what follows is the Mac way of doing things which is incredibly simple compared to the hassle with Windows in getting the correct USB driver loaded to make things function properly. If you’re determined to use Windows, be sure to install the Android SDK before you connect your phone to your PC. And read up on how to install the appropriate USB driver for Windows. With a Mac, all of this just works… out of the box. As we mentioned previously, we’ve only tested this with Leopard and Snow Leopard, and Snow Leopard does NOT work!

Before proceeding, you must enable USB Debugging on your phone. You’ll find it here: Settings->Applications->Development->USB Debugging

To get your Mac set up with the proper toolkit, do the following. There’s nothing tricky here. Just don’t skip any steps. And you only have to do this once! First, download the Android 1.5 SDK for the Mac from here. Unzip android-sdk-mac_x86-1.5_r3.zip on your Desktop and rename the folder to android-sdk. Now drag that folder into your Applications directory. Next, open a Terminal window and create/edit .bash_profile: nano -w .bash_profile. Add the following entry: export PATH=${PATH}:/Applications/android-sdk/tools. Then save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, Enter. Now run the same command from the CLI prompt to update your PATH now: export PATH=${PATH}:/Applications/android-sdk/tools. Next, download fastboot-mac onto your Desktop from the HTC Support site. Unzip the file and rename the file to fastboot. Then, download recovery-new.img to your Desktop. Drag both fastboot and recovery-new.img into the Applications/android-sdk/tools folder.

Now we’re ready to make your backup. Plug your phone into your Mac using the USB cable that came with the phone. Open a terminal window on your Mac and change to the SDK tools directory: cd /applications/android-sdk/tools. Run the following command and make certain your phone shows up in the listing: adb devices. You should get a display with the serial number of your phone:

List of devices attached
HT95RNK02843 device

Assuming your phone shows up in the list, you’re ready to proceed with a backup. Turn off your phone. Then, while pressing the Volume Down button, turn your phone back on. Hold down both buttons until you see a screen that says <BACK> FastBoot Mode with dancing Androids on skateboards at the bottom of the display. Press the BACK button (←) and the FASTBOOT USB menu will display. In your computer’s Terminal window (NOT on your phone), type: fastboot boot recovery-new.img. Your phone will reboot and display a screen with several options in blue. Use your phone’s trackball to carefully scroll down to the Nandroid Backup 2.1 option. Then depress the Trackball button to begin the backup. You’ll see a yellow display message indicating that the backup is proceeding. When the backup completes, choose the Reboot System Now option to restart your phone normally.

You’ll find the new backup on the SD card. To copy it to a safe place on your Mac, drag down the Message Bar at the top of the display after your phone has rebooted. Tap the USB Connected Select to copy files to/from your computer option. Then tap the Mount button. A new drive NO NAME will appear on your Desktop. Double-click on it and drag the nandroid folder to a safe place for permanent storage of your backup. To unmount the phone, do it on your Mac desktop first. Then reverse the mount process we initially used on the phone to mount it. Simple!

Rooting Your Phone. We have NOT done this so you’re on your own. You’ll probably void the warranty on your phone by proceeding. The best article we could find on the procedure for rooting and restoring your phone is here. But it doesn’t have the correct backup image. If you restore the wrong image, your phone’s radio may no longer work on your provider’s network. The consensus seems to be that the proper image for a rooted Rogers HTC Magic is here. The best tutorial for actually performing the magic appears to be here. But we would stress again that we have not actually tried this, and you really, really are on your own if you proceed past reading this article. It’s your $500 phone… or brick as the case may be. Before doing anything further, we would strongly recommend you make several backup images as outlined above and also spend some time doing a careful review of the postings in this forum until you are very comfortable with all of the wrinkles and procedures. If something goes wrong, post your problems there, not here. :-) We’re handing you the map, but it’s your choice whether to jump off the cliff. Enjoy!

Update: The unlocked Rogers HTC Magic phone used for this review is now available for purchase from Nerd Vittles. It supports 3G networks of both Rogers in Canada and AT&T in the United States. Just make us an offer we can’t refuse. It’s still a terrific phone!



The Future of Android. For a glimpse of what the future holds for Android, see this Giga OM article published on October 7.


Web Site of the Week. For all of your favorite Nerd gifts, don’t miss the new Mashable collection.

Articles of the Week. For another excellent technical review of the HTC Magic, check out TechRadar UK’s review. And be sure to check out Justin West’s Free Homebrew VoIP with Google Voice and Intel Atom.


Enhanced Google Maps. In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve added yet another Google Map to Nerd Vittles. Now, in addition to showing our location with Google Latitude, we also are displaying your location based upon your IP address. We’ll show you how to add something similar to any LAMP-based Linux system in coming weeks. It’s a powerful technology that has enormous potential. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Maps, click on the Hybrid and Satellite buttons and then check out the scaling and navigation options. Double-click to zoom. Incredible!


whos.amung.us If you’re wondering what your fellow man is reading on Nerd Vittles these days, wonder no more. Visit our new whos.amung.us statistical web site and check out what’s happening. It’s a terrific resource both for us and for you.



Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.
Or Try the New, Free PBX in a Flash Conference Bridge.


 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you’re seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity’s DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here’s a deal you can’t (and shouldn’t) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won’t get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity’s rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


Some Recent Nerd Vittles Articles of Interest…


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24 Responses to “Meet The iPhone Terminator: The World’s Best Mobile Phone”

  1. The images aren’t working. Looks like a permission issue or something.

    [WM: Which images?? Don’t see a problem at this end.]

  2. M says:

    Just curious, what about Nokia’s Maemo version of linux do you see as the wrong direction?

  3. Craig says:

    As a card-carrying geek I’m always looking for the next best thing when it comes to tech, and especially when it comes to phones. As an iPhone owner, however, I don’t see or read anything here that makes me want to switch. From what I’ve seen the Android phones are great for people who have an aversion to all things Apple, but for those of us using the iPhone they’re still a distant second.

    [WM: No aversion to Apple products here. In fact, quite the contrary as this article makes clear. We wouldn’t trade our Macs for anything. In fact, the Android phones are a perfect complement to the Mac platform from our vantage point. Unfortunately, the iPhone has evolved in a very different way as a very closed product. As we noted, it depends upon your requirements. We’ve listed ours. Haven’t seen yours… other than it appears requirement #1 is an Apple logo. :roll: ]

  4. Sean says:

    While it is a nice platform, I don’t see it terminating the iphone any time soon. You may have missed Apple’s announcement today of 85,000 Apps and 2 billion downloads.

    I still find Apple’s “closed platform” (A misnomer on your part considering the aftermarket for the iPhone) more compelling for me. I like the smooth integration with my set-up of MobileMe and MBP. And I find the iPhone’s hardware far superior to anything else I have played with, considering it’s made of metal and glass…. not plastic.

    I use several Apps not available on Android. Nike+ for my running (wife uses it too), numerous games I enjoy playing, and the remote I use for my home theater and home automation software. Can you turn all your lights off in the house from your bed with an Android? Can it dim the lights, pull the screen back and start the movie in your home theater? How about turn the popcorn machine on and start popping away?…….. My iPhone can. Oh, and my Escalade has an iPhone jack built in. I looked, but couldn’t find the jack for the Android for some reason.

    The Android is nice, but it is very limited when compared to what I can do with my iPhone today.

    [WM: Like we said. Different strokes for different folks. Good to hear there are a few loyal iPhone customers left. AT&T needs folks that still are willing to pay those exorbitant international roaming fees without blinking. And with the iPhone you don’t have much choice… other than to buy or rent a second phone. In case streaming music from your phone to your car with BlueTooth doesn’t work (for example, using an iPhone), the jack you’re searching for is the non-proprietary USB jack. You’ll find it in every new Toyota and many other vehicles. Didn’t know the federal government was still making Escalades? :wink: ]

  5. Skavoovie says:

    Oh yes, Google has opened everything wide-open with Android…they have totally embraced the concept, ideals, and spirit of open source software…

    …er wait…

    “Google Issues Cease & Desist to Open Source Android Developer”

    http://www.linux-mag.com/cache/7544/1.html

    [WM: Open source doesn’t mean selling the farm. The cease and desist had to do with commercial applications being redistributed, not open source apps. Any other company (including Apple) would have had the same concerns. Without first talking to the developer, it was a stupid move to get lawyers involved. Usually is. It’s hard to put a price tag on goodwill. But Google just squandered millions of dollars worth for no reason. On the Android platform, there is an easy solution which protects commercial apps while making them available on rooted phones to legitimate owners. It is addressed in our updated article and now is being addressed by the developer in question. A two-minute phone call from Google to the developer could have averted what may yet turn out to be a train wreck for a pretty good public company. One disgruntled user summed it up best with his funny Hitler video spoof on YouTube.]

  6. Ben Forest says:

    Nice review. Look forward to playing with one. I especially like your being very specific in your review.

    However I too sense some sort of odd strain of Apple bashing both in your review and even your comments about how much you use Macs. Sort of a … and some of my best friends are Macs (LOL). The Apple logo crack was not necessary in your response to Craig in what I thought was otherwise a reasoned defense. And yes I am well aware of my own biases regarding the iPhone.

    The iPhone has become – especially with the OS3 update, an indispensable tool in my work and play. I run my Mac consulting company with it now, from Credit Card payments, billing, TomTom navigation to writing notes and the device works well under many conditions. I hardly ever use my Macbook except for onsite troubleshooting (often my iPhone does that too)

    I have a number of clients who are G-phone owners and their reviews of them have been mixed, with a lot of complaints of how they feel steered to Googles services, lack of “good” apps. and unhappiness with HTC hardware quality in the case of their T-Mobile device. In contrast my customers with the new Palm Pre seem happier. Anyway, thanks for your reviews. Glad your enjoying your Macs.

    [WM: Thanks. You’re right. Google’s legal shenanigans last week really reinforced that all of these companies (even with all of their riches) still have much to learn. Seems to be a little gotcha in all of us. And, yes, some of our best friends are Macs. :-) Frankly, we never quite got over Apple bricking people’s iPhones, and it still shows once in a while. Sorry. Didn’t happen to ours by the way. Interesting, too, that despite hundreds of thousands of modded Xboxes, Microsoft never found the need to brick people’s personal property nor to issue C&Ds to ROM developers. Instead, they opted to build a better mouse trap.

    Speaking of steering users to their own products, that’s an interesting observation regarding Google considering the forced linkage between iPhones and iPods to iTunes and Apple’s music store. At least with the Androids, you have some choice in loading your music and software. ]

  7. Ben Forest says:

    Response/comment to WM: Yes it is funny how many of us don’t view the lock-in to iTunes as a problem. I guess as an IT professional I am supposed to disapprove of the lack of choice, so I agree; but in practice I guess I don’t care too much. In my case I am comfortable with iTunes and it works well for me. So I have not spent time playing with competitors. I will have to rely on you for that.

    My Pre clients actually use iTunes to get their music on their phone.( I advised them against it actually.) Also I am surprised how many users of Windows and Macs I run into who use iTunes without an iPod connection.

  8. Skavoovie says:

    I agree about the phone call concept — would have been far better given the OS touting of the Android platform.

    That being said, an even better solution would be to modularize those applications, and allow them to be downloaded and installed on any Android device as a regular application, with hooks into the OS as normal. That would be the open source way — similar to dual-licensing models.

    Use our version of Android, or if not, download our binaries, agree to the license terms we specify during install, and approve its access to internal hooks for full functionality.

    Problem solved, Google looks great.

    Working WITH others not AGAINST them.

    Apple is by no means a good comparison. They only know how to do things one way.

    I am a huge fan of their hardware and OS, but not their business practices and pricing.

    [WM: Yeah. What’s really strange is that all of these apps are available for the most part directly over the Internet at no cost. The one exception might be Google Market on which Google makes commissions. :roll: None of it makes any sense to us. Screw the guy that’s probably done more to advance the platform than anybody and in doing so alienate your most loyal supporters. Really bright move on both counts. Almost looks like they were jealous that a guy could design a better OS than their people on the payroll. It’s an age-old Silicon Valley nose-in-the-air problem dating back as far as the Ashton-Tate days. Too big for their britches as my grandma would say.]

    P.S. Looks like some of the same growing pains are underway at Palm as well.

  9. Hisham says:

    I sent you a tweet back on September 5 asking you about Android + SIPdroid: http://twitter.com/hrana/statuses/3790730715

    As a diehard Nokia SIP client user, I have become quite disenchanted with Nokia’s removal in their latest phones. Android provides hope. However, the recent CyanogenMod cease and desist letter and Google’s increasingly worrying stance over rooting their phones has cast some doubt on this angle. Chances are that I might snap up the phone you used in this article just in case newer Android phones become impossible to root. That said, I’m quite thrilled you did this write-up!

    I have one more suggestion for you… Windows Mobile. XDA-Developers has a little software package that opens up the built-in SIP functionality in Windows Mobile 6+ phones. In some ways, Windows Mobile is more powerful because you can define dial plans within the handset itself but this also makes it more complicated. Anyway… it’s worth a shot to see if you can provide another one of your phenomenal write ups.

    Finally, we’re still waiting for a Palm Pre SIP stack. Sadly, I think my blog ends up in the top Google results for “palm pre” “sip stack” which is an absolutely abysmal sign. :)

  10. Eric says:

    Currently sipdroid only supports G711 and only because it’s built into the operating system. I think it would be much wiser to wait and see what hardware requirements Android 2.0 will put on hardware. This is especially true after the G1 fiasco where a promising handset was cut off from updates because of too little ram in the original design. If there is one thing that Apple really got right was the hardware support and API longevity as even the original iPhone can run v3.x firmware and it’s over 2 years old. Show me another vendor willing to provide free, supported, upgrades for handsets that old.

    I’m also in the iPhone camp now. It’s amazing how much they have done to advance mobile computing. Sure there are artificial limitations, but even without background services I have IM and IRC “virtually” backgounded with push enabled apps. My biggest complaint is not with the software, but with the carrier.

    I bailed on the Nokia e63 after one too many reboots and connectivity issues either getting it to work with WPA, getting it to stay connected to WiFi, getting it to connect to a sip provider, no diagnostics when sip registration or call failure, and inconsistent behavior for incoming calls despite the fact that I’ve used the same networks for other SIP applications. After a month of trying various tricks and workarounds it just wasn’t worth the hassle when I just wasn’t getting my calls and half my outgoing calls would end up without audio.

    [WM: Good points. Thanks.]

  11. Dan says:

    Another nice article. Almost makes me wish I’d seen this before I bought my E71. But, at $500 I think I’ll wait awhile. Sure sounds interesting though.

  12. Rob says:

    just a note about sipdroid
    I have been a happy user of my rogers htc dream for a few months now rooted with a cyanogen mod at that

    sipdroid only works on 3g/edge if you get the app from their website if you get it from the market the 3g/egde capabilities are disabled but this is one of those apps that keeps getting better the latest
    release was quite a improvement

  13. JD Austin says:

    Does anyone know of a device that runs Android that works on Verizon?

    [WM: Coming soon from Motorola and probably others.]

  14. Maxim says:

    Having read your review I immediately went out and bought the HTC magic. But before I talk about it there’s some history. I was a Nokia E65 user until about Summer this year. I used the built in SIP on the E65 very extensively and thus the iphone was never really an option for me (who can live with just one app running at a time?). Then Nokia came out with the N97. I bought the N97 assuming it’s an upgrade to the E65 but boy how wrong I was. They removed the SIP stack completely for the time being and so far I’m only hearing rumours about it coming back but nothing confirmed whatsoever. The hardware of the N97 is great though and if they would put Android on the N97 it’d be tha s*#t.

    So as mentioned I went out and bought the HTC magic after reading your review and been happy ever since. SIPdroid does what I want it to do. Also the applications available for the phone are great. Since I’m linux savvy I rooted the phone without trouble and can also make extensive use of the wifi tethering (my provider allows this).

    Thanks for making me spend another $600 on a phone this year but I’m loving it!

  15. Zonique says:

    The Acer Liquid is there! Android on steroids…

  16. ward says:

    Sprint’s first Android phone arrives: the Samsung Moment.

  17. Tomsyr says:

    I wonder if the Verizon Droid will be the real IPhone killer?

    If it can also function like the MiFi, I’ll bet this will be a huge home run for Google and Verizon.

    [WM: It’s going to be a fun holiday season in the Android world.]

  18. Rob says:

    well for those of you that still want to root your phone
    cyanogenmod.com has some of the best roms and he was the first person pressed to stop using google apps he has settled things with google and his new rom and great info on rooting and installing his rom

    also his newest rom runs on android 1.6 which has vpn support for pptp and l2tp

    ward glad to have you on the android side of things

  19. Jim Douglas says:

    I bought a Rogers HTC Magic (connected to AT&T) last month but it seems to have a “perfected spl” that is not easily cracked. I can connect to the phone using the SDK on Linux or Windows but when I try to back up or load recovery-new.img, I get FAILED (remote: not allow). The fix found on most forums involves creating a “goldcard” and installing a newer “non perfected” SPL. I’m hesitant to do this without some sort of backup plan. Just wondering if any of you have successfully dealt with this problem. It seems most of the US users are using T-Mobile. Thanks… Jim

  20. tusc says:

    Jim,

    I also have a “perfected spl” on my Rogers Magic (also on AT&T). I avoided the complication (and risk) of the gold card method by following the “one click root”: http://theunlockr.com/2009/08/29/how-to-root-the-htc-magic-in-one-click/

  21. Jim Douglas says:

    Thank you tusc… I will try the “one click root” method. Thanks for your comments.

  22. ward says:

    Here’s a great new list of Killer Android Apps to load on your new phone.

  23. dragon788 says:

    Hi Ward,
    I’d just like to echo the question about your thoughts on Nokia’s Maemo platform and whether you see it as a step in the right direction?
    I’m impressed by all the Android phones, but I’m a bit of a Linux snob and would like to see even more openness when it comes to the Linux stack on Android. Maemo satisfies this itch pretty well, and I’ve been using an N800 for a couple years, just debating on the N900 or Android for my next toy for a year or so.

  24. Todd Johnson says:

    I’ve had a N810 and switched it for a Motorola Droid. The droid is a much nicer and popular platform. I’m not going back. Plus the Droid wins in usability.

    Wish there was something better than sipdroid and not as commercially linked. IAXdroid would be perfect. There are some java libraries. Also having problems with sipdroid and nat that was not a problem on the N810.

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