Android underwhelms at Mobile World Congress

John C. Tanner
19 Feb 2009

The world has a few more Android handsets than it did on Monday, with the debut of three new smartphones at the Mobile World Congress, but while HTC’s was the loudest, the most interesting Android phone was arguably the one from a no-name company – and it’s not even 3G.

New York-based General Mobile is showcasing its DSTL1 handset in Barcelona in conjunction with YuHua TelTech, a Shanghai-based design firm that specializes in smartphone designs and Linux-based mobile operating systems, including Android. YuHua designed the DSTL1 for General Mobile.

The DSTL1 is a touch-screen handset running on a Marvell processor, and while it doesn’t support 3G (relying on Wi-Fi for broadband speeds), it does sport dual SIM slots, 4GB of onboard memory and a 5-megapixel camera.

General Mobile hasn’t given details on market availability, other than that the phone will be commercially available in Q3 2009. But it’s the quietest Android phone introduction at a conference hungry for Android news.

After spending the beginning of the Mobile World Congress doting over its latest Windows-based smartphones, HTC – maker of the original Android phone, the G1 – finally took the wraps off its second Android model Tuesday with Vodafone.

The HTC Magic differs from the G1, in that it’s a touch-screen form factor and runs on “Cupcake”, the latest version of Android that supports a touch-screen interface as well as video recording.

The HTC Magic is exclusive to Vodafone in the UK, Spain, Germany and France (via SFR) and available on a non-exclusive basis in Italy starting next month.

However, in terms of apps and customization, the HTC Magic under Vodafone’s tutelage is little different from the G1. Also, in a move bound to annoy some users, the Magic comes with a proprietary headphone jack.

“Clearly Vodafone and HTC are hoping the allure of the Android OS will draw the crowds, and at least the new hardware is prettier than T-Mobile’s ugly-duckling G1,” said Ovum analyst Tim Renowden.

Curiously, the Magic phone on display at the HTC stand was not the final form factor of the handset, according to a booth spokesman who said that the keys at the bottom of the Magic touchscreen would be different.

Meanwhile, Huawei Technologies announced its own Android-based handset on Tuesday, but had only a non-functioning mock-up handset on display that looks something similar to the iPhone, and gave few details. The handset will be commercially ready in Q3.

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