At last, new Android phones come to the fore

HTC Magic
The HTC and Vodafone execs had to stay in this position for two hours

Where's Android been? Until today the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) OS has been distinctly anonymous at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

So it was with some relief that Vodafone took the wraps off the HTC Magic – a thinner and lighter 3.2-inch QVGA touchscreen update of the T-Mobile G1 with no physical keyboard and an annoying proprietary headphone jack.

We spoke to Samsung yesterday, who told us that we shouldn't be so hasty for the company to launch an Android handset. But this is the biggest mobile show of the year, so why shouldn't we have expected a giant such as Samsung to show us at least a prototype Android handset? (Even if we learned last week that this wouldn't be Samsung itself.)

Perhaps that's not the way it does things, but it remains that, aside from the Magic, the scantiness of Android launches and even prototypes amazes us - though Huawei has shown a prototype Android touchscreen handset at the show.

15.27GMT update: We've just heard that LG has come good; the company is to relaunch its KS360 as an Android handset. LG will also release another two Android phones this year, Marketing Manager Jeremy Newing told our colleagues at T3, following the KS360 Android in the summer.

Engadget also reports that Acer is to launch two Android handsets later in the year. An amusing spy shot on the site purports to show model numbers scrawled in the notebook of a hapless Acer employee.

The G2 is Magic

We're sure T-Mobile won't be happy at the launch of the Magic. Presumably it must have wanted the handset, but it's Voda that managed to snatch the rights to the phone formerly known as the G2 in the short months since it joined the OHA.

From a position of paucity last year, the development leaves Vodafone with a extremely strong high-end smartphone line-up. The Magic slots in alongside other enviable candy such as the BlackBerry Storm, Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, Nokia 5800 and N96 and the Samsung Tocco.

And, unlike the Storm, it seems Voda will let Wi-Fi run riot on the handset; could it be regretting its decision for cellular-only connectivity with the Storm? The Magic will also include the upgraded 'Cupcake' version of Android.

Microsoft steals the show?

Microsoft certainly ran amok yesterday; even if it seemed there wasn't much to steal. So there was the Windows Phone courtesy of Windows Mobile 6.5, but reports suggest it remains slow and we're really all waiting for WinMo 7. And not even some shiny Windows Phone launches from HTC and LG could suppress an overwhelming sense of non-surprise – especially as the handsets may not carry 6.5 from the off.

Brighter in terms of hardware has to be the Samsung Omnia HD. This looks mean, with 720p support, and can produce an HDMI out signal. Like it. So-so was the LG Arena KM900 with a crazy 3D cube interface and GD900 with nice transparency (this shouldn't be great, but we're fans).

More interesting were the joint Adobe announcements for Flash to be supported on the Palm Pre and Nokia Series 60 phones. That's great news. As the iPhone/Flash debate is getting boring, BlackBerry now needs to take a good look at itself and get moving in this regard.

As for Nokia, well, so-so. Although Symbian got an unexpected boost from Sony Ericsson's 12 megapixel snapper, the Idou. Out later this year, it will boast a new interface.

Nokia itself? Well it forgot its biggest announcement, leaving the N86 to debut in Singapore. But still it drowned out everything it did at MWC. Well done guys.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.