The HTC Ozone with its slim form factor and green keys is a departure from some of the more bulkier form factor smartphones many think of when they think about a Windows Mobile phone. The smartphone sports a Windows Mobile 6.1 OS, 3G connectivity, stereo Bluetooth, a 2-megapixel camera, and an e-mail set up tool that’s so easy to use anyone can get e-mail on this smartphone within minutes. If you’ve been thinking about getting a Windows Mobile smartphone and don’t want a touchscreen, the HTC Ozone is worth a look.
Design & Features
Look and feel: At first glance, the HTC Ozone has a look of a smartphone, with the display occupying the top half of the cell phone, the keyboard occupying the bottom half of the cell phone and a line of keys for using the smartphone separating the two. The HTC Ozone’s piano black and green colored keys scheme with a grey metal back and rounded edges make it a sharp looking cell phone. Another plus is that the Ozone is extremely light weight and we often forgot when we were transporting it in a shirt pocket.
To navigate through the Windows Mobile smartphone there are two soft keys that correspond with options on the display, a back button, a home button and a five-way navi-key. The display is bright, crisp and sharp. We’re happy to report that the screen is extremely visible in bright sunlight. Another plus is the cell phone’s spine isn’t too littered with buttons. There are side volume keys and a covered proprietary port. However, you’ll need to remove the grey metal casing from the back of the Ozone to access the MicroSD card slot. The good news is that you don’t need to remove the battery.
Keypad: The keypad on the HTC Ozone sports some of the larger keys we’ve seen to date on a Windows Mobile smartphone. These keys are square opposed to the slightly curved keys found on a BlackBerry. The letters and numbers on the keys are large as well, so you won’t be squinting to make out the letters or numbers on the QWERTY keyboard. Although, there’s no space between the keys it hardly matters since the keys themselves are so spacious. There’s also a key in the lower right hand corner of the keypad that you can customize to launch two of your favorite apps (a short press will launch one app, while holding the key down longer will launch a different app). We do have one qualm with the keyboard: the Alt key, which is needed to use the number keys, is located too close to the numeric-section of the keypad making it a bit difficult to use.
Usability & Performance
Call Quality: Calls and speakerphone: For the most part, we found calls loud and clear on the HTC Ozone. We rarely used the side volume keys to adjust the sound up or down. Callers said we sounded clear. Using the speakerphone didn’t seem to degrade call quality on our end and we appreciate how easy it is to activate the speakerphone.
Audio quality: Playback of songs through the cell phone’s speakers was decent. We found that songs sounded clear. Although the HTC Ozone uses the proprietary port for the included headphones, it also comes with an adapter for 3.5mm and 2.5mm headsets so you can use your own headset with the Ozone. We found audio quality was decent through the included headphones.
Ease of Use
Menu/phone book: The HTC Ozone runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Operating System (OS). However, in this version, the main screen has gotten a bit of a facelift. Now, using the five-way navi key allows you to simply scroll through applications on the home screen. For example, you can scroll to see the local weather, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and a snapshot of call logs, text messages (even a recent message without having to open the application) and e-mails. However, we liked the web experience much better when we downloaded a free version of SkyFire. Of course, you can still select Start to see a complete list of all the applications included on the HTC Ozone. It comes with mobile editions of Excel, One Note, PowerPoint, and Word. Speaking of maps, GPS is included along with Verizon Navigator.
Messaging: The HTC Ozone handles POP3 and IMAP 4 e-mail accounts as well as Web mail accounts (AOL, Yahoo, Windows Live, Gmail) with ease. You can set the Ozone to check for messages at specific intervals, or you can check them manually at any time. There’s an e-mail set-up application with access to popular web-based e-mail accounts and Outlook. It’s extremely easy to use, just enter your e-mail address and password for the corresponding account and the smartphone does the rest. Now, that’s smart. There’s also a dedicated folder with access to popular instant messaging programs including AIM, Google Talk, Messenger, MySpace IM and Yahoo! For corporate users, the Ozone also includes Microsoft’s Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server.
Camera/video: The HTC Ozone sports a 2-megapixel camera that can take photos and record short videos. It lacks a flash and a tiny mirror near the lens for snapping self-portraits. You can snap a picture by pressing the center button on the five-way navi-key and you can zoom by pressing the correlating buttons on the navi-key up and down. One plus is the camera has a fast shutter, so you likely won’t miss a shot. The camera doesn’t have a lot of settings, but there are a few: panorama, brightness, white balance, quality, metering, and effects (normal, negative, grayscale, and sepia). When taking pictures or videos the entire screen turns into a viewfinder (similar to digital cameras), which gives you plenty of room to frame a shot. As for image quality, when viewing pictures both on screen and downloaded to a computer was acceptable, though colors were a little washed out. You can also record videos. However, we much preferred watching videos on the smartphone that we downloaded to a microSD card.
Music: The HTC Ozone uses the Windows Media Player for playing back music. The smartphone doesn’t have a ton of internal memory (about 196MB enough for storing some music, but not a lot), so if you plan on storing a lot of music you’ll want to get an optional MicroSD media card, as this cell phone will support up to a 16GB MicroSD card. You can play MP3s, Microsofts WMA and Apple’s AACs audio files on the MP3 player. As noted, the audio quality is acceptable through the cell phone speaker. The Ozone doesn’t have many audio-centric controls such as the ability to manually adjust bass and treble, however you can Shuffle, and Repeat All or just one song and there’s also a software equalizer that helps improve audio quality. The cell phone will also display album art when available.
Connectivity/Bluetooth/WiFi/World Phone: We were able to pair the HTC smartphone with a Bluetooth headset. We found call quality to be acceptable with the headset. And callers had no idea we were using a headset let alone a cell phone. Additionally, the HTC Ozone supports stereo Bluetooth, which is great since this smartphone uses the proprietary port for the included headphones. However, the phone does come with an adapter so you can plug in either a pair of 3.5mm headphones or 2.5mm headphones.
The HTC Ozone has built-in WiFi so you can log-on to available WiFi networks to surf the Web or send/receive e-mail. It’s a nice feature and setting it up is a breeze. Additionally, since this cell phone will work on both CDMA and GSM networks it’s a world phone. However, you won’t be able to remove the included SIM card from the back of the device. If you’re thinking of taking it abroad you’ll need to contact Verizon about setting up roaming service.
Battery Life: In the battery life department, the HTC Ozone could be better. We found that the smartphone could last about two days before recharging when using the HTC Ozone 3G regularly to make calls, occasionally surf the wireless Web, listen to music, and send/receive text messages. Users who barely use the cell phone to make/receive calls and send/receive messages can probably last closer to three days before needing to recharge, while heavier cell phone users will likely need to charge the HTC Ozone nightly just to be on the safe side. However, if Bluetooth and WiFi are left active the Ozone will need to be charged before the end of the day. We should note that this smartphone comes with an interesting charger. You can swap out the actual plug and replace it with another one, for example, an international plug. Additionally, to use the charger, there’s a removable USB cable that is also used to connect the Ozone to a computer for synching. Unfortunately, when the smartphone is attached to the computer via the cable it doesn’t recharge.