It's hard to argue that Android is powering some of the most exciting new mobile phones. Sure, the iPhone is terrific, but it's just one phone from one company. We love competition, and that's what we think Android brings -- certainly more so than Windows Mobile or Symbian currently do. With its two most recent handsets, HTC has set the bar very high: both the Magic and Hero are superb little devices. They are small, well-built and aesthetically pleasing, but most importantly of all, they bring smart phones kicking and screaming into 2009.

Your choice of which to buy will be limited by the network that offers it. We can't say we're thrilled about picking our phone based on which mobile company we hate least. Despise Vodafone? You aren't getting the HTC Magic then. Got a distaste for T-Mobile or Orange? No Hero for you, Sonny Jim. There's always the opportunity to buy one SIM-free, but for more than £400 will anyone do that?

Ignoring the practicalities of such things, let's get down and dirty with some gratuitous and titillating Android porn. There's a sentence we didn't expect to type in our working careers...

Although it might seem trivial, the Hero isn't badged "with Google". This is because the build of Android on this phone is modified. Google denies that it's Exchange support that stops a phone from carrying the Google logo. But whatever, this is still basically an Android handset with access to the Android Market and terrific Google apps.
Notice that the Hero, left, has a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Magic does not, much to our chagrin.
Charging is done in the same way though, via mini USB sockets on the bottom of the phone.
Here you can see the HTC Hero's chin. This is a point of some controversy because in the original press shots it looked like it was inspired by Bruce Forsyth. In person, or in Android, as we should say, it looks lovely, and the chin is really not a problem at all. HTC also claims that it helps with call clarity, and some other techie stuff. A Brucie Bonus, you might say. It's also relevant to say that the track ball on the Hero is smaller than the one on the Magic, and not as nice to use.
Even the lock screen is slightly modified on the Hero. You drag that bar downwards to unlock it, whereas on the Magic you simply press the 'menu' button.
Both of these home screens have been slightly customised from the default settings. The Hero comes with quite a bushel of widgets by default, and you get more vertical home screens too -- six as opposed to three on the Magic.
The Hero has its own custom HTC widgets. These are added to the desktop in the same way as the Android widgets are. HTC also provides widgets for switching off Wi-Fi, GPS and putting the phone into Airplane (sic) mode. On the Magic, these have to be downloaded from the Android store.
Here, you can see the customisation that Vodafone uses to ruin the Magic. Of course, it's entirely likely that when the T-Mobile G2 arrives, it will have the Hero logo replaced with a T-Mobile one. Eugh.
The two phones are about the same size. They both have that wonderful balance between authoritative weight and comfort for long-term use.
SIM-card placement is different in the Hero too. You have to insert the card into a little metal holder. On the Magic, the card just slides into place, which we prefer.
The batteries are very similar in terms of capacity. The one shown here on the left is the Hero's -- it has about 10mAh more capacity than the one in the Magic.
Further highlighting the subtle differences between the two is this G-sensor calibration tool, which the Magic doesn't have.


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