Windows Mobile 6.5 brings with it new features, like Microsoft's My Phone backup service, an enhanced Internet Explorer Mobile browser, and the much-awaited Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Though the Marketplace isn't live yet as we're writing this review, the application shortcut is already installed on the phone, raring to go.
Like the Touch Pro2, the Imagio is a dual-mode phone. This means it supports both CDMA and GSM networks, which is great news for Verizon globe-trotters. The smartphone will work on Verizon's network in the U.S., but it will switch over to a compatible GSM network when it is overseas. (Do note that you can't swap it out with an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM card since Verizon doesn't have roaming agreements with either of our local GSM carriers.) Since the Imagio has quad-band GSM and 2100MHz UMTS/HSDPA band support, you'll get both voice and 3G data coverage worldwide. Be careful to check roaming rates, though, because Verizon's international rates can be quite pricey in certain areas.
The Imagio's phone features include speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, a proximity sensor, text and multimedia messaging, and support for Verizon's Visual Voice Mail service. The address book is only limited by available memory, and each entry can store multiple numbers, home and work addresses, e-mail, birthdays, and more. You can also link a contact's Facebook profile to him or her as well. You can then view status updates as well as your call and message history with that person.
Supported Bluetooth profiles include headsets, hands-free kits, object file transfer, dial-up networking, phone book access, and more. Other advanced features include both Wi-Fi and EV-DO Rev. A, so you're never without high-speed connectivity. You also get GPS and location-based services on here, like Verizon's own VZ Navigator that provides voice-guided turn-by-turn directions.
The phone comes preloaded with both Opera and Internet Explorer. You can even choose between mobile and "full" desktop versions of each browser, which is great if you prefer loading full versions of Web pages rather than the simpler mobile-only versions. Though Internet Explorer Mobile 6.0 feels a lot sleeker and smoother than previous versions, we still prefer the Opera version because it supports tabbed browsing and has a more intuitive interface. Internet Explorer Mobile does support Flash Lite, however, which is a welcome treat for those of us who like watching online videos.
Perhaps the most surprising feature on the Imagio is that it supports V Cast Mobile TV, Verizon's live mobile television service. Only a few Verizon devices support this feature, and the Imagio is the first smartphone to do so. V Cast Mobile TV acts and feels like real-time live television; it uses the Flo TV service and not an over-the-air cellular signal, so there's little to no buffering time at all when viewing video. With the $15 a month Basic package, you get eight channels: CBS Mobile, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV, Fox Mobile, MTV, NBC 2Go, NBC News 2Go, and Nickelodeon. Some of the offerings are time-shifted and not live, while others are delivered specifically for mobile audiences. The V Cast Mobile TV service is not widely available, however, so you should check out the coverage map.
Also surprising is that the Imagio is one of a few Verizon smartphones to support the V Cast array of multimedia services. They include V Cast Video on-demand, which streams video clips from a variety of providers, plus support for V Cast Music with Rhapsody so you can purchase and download music over-the-air. Thankfully, you don't have to use Verizon's own music player since the Imagio comes with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile. It supports a variety of music and video formats, like AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV. There's also a YouTube app if you want even more video viewing options.
We were pleased to see that the Imagio has a 5-megapixel camera with video-recording capabilities. You can take photos in six different resolutions, and it has a slew of advanced camera settings like white balance, brightness, a self-timer, adjustable ISO, four quality settings, a panorama stitching mode, a shutter sound toggle, and a wide-screen mode. There's also a touch focus mode that only requires you to tap the screen for the camera to focus in on a particular point. Other settings include contrast, saturation, and sharpness. Photo quality was very good overall. Images looked sharp and vibrant, but low-light shots didn't fare so well.
The built-in video camera can record VGA quality video in four different formats (H.263, 3GPP2, MPEG4, and H.264). You can either limit the video to a certain length for MMS or "no limit" if you have enough storage. Other video recorder settings are similar to the still camera. Video quality was actually quite good for a mobile device. Moving the camera around does result in pixelation and shakiness, but if you keep it relatively still, it's not bad. It's at least good enough for shooting the occasional clip for Facebook or YouTube. The HTC Imagio can accept up to 16GB cards through its microSD expansion slot.
We tested the dual-mode HTC Imagio in San Francisco using the Verizon Wireless service. We experienced mixed call quality. On our end, we enjoyed smooth, natural voice quality with little to no static. There was very little background noise as well.
On their end, however, callers reported that we kept breaking up, and would often miss entire words or sentences we said. When we did come through, callers said our voice sounded quite natural and the volume was good.
Similarly, speakerphone calls on our end sounded great, with pretty good volume and clarity from the phone's tiny speakers. Callers said that we sounded distant, and we often had to speak closely to the microphone in order to be heard. They also reported that our voice sounded harsh on the speakerphone.
The Imagio has a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7600 processor and was able to perform most tasks with speed. The accelerometer was quick to change screen orientation and zooming in and out of Web pages was also fast. We did experience some sluggishness, especially when closing down processor-intensive applications like V Cast TV, but the delays were minimal.
We were incredibly impressed by the quality of V Cast Mobile TV. Video looked sharp and there was no delay at all when loading channels. We can't say the same for V Cast video streaming. Though we experienced little to no buffering time thanks to the EV-DO Rev. A, video quality was rather poor, with pixelated and blurry images. EV-DO Rev. A also contributed to fast Web browsing. CNET's full site loaded on to the Opera browser in around 44 seconds, and we downloaded a 1.5MB song in just 30 seconds.
The HTC Imagio has a 1500mAH lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and 13 days of standby time. The Imagio received a tested talk time of 5 hours and 55 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Imagio has a digital SAR of 0.498 watt per kilogram.