Friday, 19 June 2009

Run in vain for new 'Google Phone'

Vodafone ran a one-day-only "treasure hunt" today across New Zealand, giving away 20 of the new HTC Magic phones. The company ran "missions" in the main centres at various times of the day.

Contestants had to sign up for TXT updates to receive clues for the mission/s in their area, as to the whereabouts of each phone. (The winners also got flights and accommodation for 2 in Auckland, plus tickets to the 'Black & White Magic' party).

Down south in Dunedin there was just a single 'HTC Magic with Google' phone up for grabs, and we had to wait until 4pm for our chance. The clue was "This landmark is the first of its kind in southern hemisphere", but unfortunately my quick run down to Dunedin's Chinese Garden wasn't quick enough, and the phone was already gone when I got there. Gutted.

The HTC Magic is the first official smartphone here to be powered by Google's Android operating system. Known as the HTC myTouch 3G in the United States, it's the first of what is expected to be a wide range of Android-powered cellphones coming from the major mobile phone manufacturers.
The smartphones are Google's answer to Apple's popular iPhone, and are tightly tied to Google services like Gmail, Search, Maps, and YouTube.

The HTC Magic features similar touchscreen features as the iPhone, along with an onscreen keyboard with predictive text. Unfortunately it doesn't offer Apple's clever pinch and multi-touch features.

But unlike Apple's iPhone (even the new iPhone 3GS), this one does operate on Vodafone NZ's "extended 3G" 900MHz band as well as 2100MHz. (The iPhone is still next-to-useless in the lower South Island, as Vodafone's genuine 3G service is basically non-existant outside of central Dunedin, Invercargill, and Queenstown).
The grey version of the HTC Magic is pretty ugly, looking more like a garage door opener or a heat pump remote than a modern smartphone. However the black version looks a lot classier.

The phone isn't cheap tho... Vodafone has set the rather ambitious launch price of $1099 for the phone on its own, or $319-$619 on a long-term contract (depending on the size of your monthly plan).

I think I'll have to wait a little longer to get myself a proper smartphone. I'm currently using Nokia's cumbersome N95 phone, but was keeping an eye out for Apple's revised iPhone 3GS.

Unfortunately, the specs have revealed it's mostly-useless in the lower South Island on Vodafone, I may have to hold out for the 2010 revision of the iPhone and hope that does the trick (either that or switch to Telecom's XT network... not sure whether I can swallow that pill!)

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