Posted by: Frank | August 24, 2009

Staying In Touch

About two months ago T-Mobile announced that the myTouch phone, running the Google Android operating system, was available for pre-order for existing customers and would ship by August 5. From that point I had been keeping my gadget lust in check, debating in my mind whether or not to get the new phone. In the past when I was buying Windows Mobile phones, significant new phone releases coincided with a new release of Windows Mobile, and since I was writing books about Windows Mobile, I had to stay current with the latest and greatest.

The myTouch, (which is a really bad name for a phone, I prefer the HTC code name Magic) comes with the “Cupcake” version of Android that I already have on my T-Mobile G1. In addition to the same version of the operating sysem, the G1 and myTouch also have the same processor, and for many the G1’s hardware keyboard is a big plus over the myTouch’s onscreen keyboard. Still, the HTC Magic, as I will henceforth call the myTouch, has some advantages such as a smaller size, a bigger battery for longer battery life, more ROM for storing applications, and more RAM to enable applications to run more efficiently.

All of changes in the HTC Magic, particularly battery life, are significant improvements that could justify upgrading from the G1, but what pushed me over the edge are rumors that the G1 will not be upgradable to future versions of Android to be released by Google. T-Mobile has stated that they will continue providing updates to the G1, but as far as I know it has not come right out and said that we will be able to install Android 2.0 on it. The G1 does have constraints in storage space due to it’s smaller ROM size, so I am inclined to believe that you aren’t going to be able to install many more upgrades on it. Sure, you might be able to install Android 2.0, but at the cost of only being able to install an even smaller number of applications.

Yesterday I went ahead and upgraded to the HTC Magic and it hasn’t taken me very long to determine that I am very happy with the phone. The smaller size and the rounded edges make it easier to hold in my hand, and there is an added bonus that it fits perfect in the holster case that came with the T-Mobile Shadow. Today was the first day that I used it while being in the office, and I can report that the battery got me back home though I did have to recharge it fairly soon after I was home. The G1 would often have to be recharged by lunch time or early afternoon at the latest. Ideally the Magic should get to the evening to make it completely through the day, and it might still as today was a pretty heavy use day as I paid extra attention to my new toy.

One of the things I was dreading about getting the new phone is re-configuring it to my use, which includes moving data and applications. Moving data is easy as it synchronizes with the Google Calendar, Contacts, and Mail applications. The Magic comes with a 4 GB micro-SD storage card to store photos and music, which is also an upgrade over the G1’s 2 GB card. However, what that means is that you won’t want to simply move the storage card from the G1 to the Magic. Instead, I connected the G1 to my desktop computer and attached it as a storage device, then I copied the music and photos folders to a directory on the desktop. I then disconnected the G1 and connected the Magic and copied the folders to its storage card.

Re-installing applications is a good news, bad news story. The good news is that the Android Market remembers the applications that you purchase, so the first time I opened the Market all the purchased applications are listed that I could then tap to install on the Magic. The bad news is that the Market doesn’t remember the free applications that you download and install. Because free apps are tracked on the G1, I am certain the information about the applications is stored in a file that probably could be copied over to another phone, but I wasn’t in the mood to go hunting around, so I manually reinstalled the applications that I want on the Magic.

I’ve installed most of the applications that I had on my G1 and 260 MB of space is still available on the Magic, which is much more than the 15 MB I have been wrestling with on the G1. Also, so far I am finding performance on the Magic to be better than the G1, which I am certain that is attributable to having more RAM for running applications and possibly due to the greater storage space. Everything else related to performance is the same on both devices, so I am left with these two improvements being the factor, that or the fact that I am not running Locale on the Magic, which is a program that monitors the phone’s location and based on where it is performs certain functions like turn Wi-Fi on or off.

As you might suspect by now, I recommend that G1 owners upgrade to the myTouch/HTC Magic. So far I have found that with the smaller size and the better performance the onscreen keyboard works much better than on the G1, making it good enough for my use. If you really want a keyboard-based Android device, rumors are that T-Mobile will have a true replacement for the G1 later in the year and other carriers are said to be adding Android devices to their line-up in the future.

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