HTC Ozone (Verizon Wireless) review: HTC Ozone (Verizon Wireless)

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The HTC Ozone offers an e-mail and messaging-centric feature set that includes EV-Do Rev. A, Wi-Fi, GPS and support for overseas GSM networks. Call quality is quite respectable.

The Bad The HTC Ozone's controls and keypad don't have the best design. Also, it lacks HTC's Inner Circle feature, the volume level is low and GSM data support tops out at EDGE.

The Bottom Line Though its plastic design and photo quality are unchanged, the HTC Ozone offers a more affordable price tag, improved features, and better voice quality than its Sprint HTC Snap counterpart.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0

The HTC Ozone is Verizon Wireless' answer to Sprint's HTC Snap. Though its design is slightly different, it offers many of the same features and is positioned toward the same group of messaging-savvy users. In a great move, Verizon added Wi-Fi and dual-mode CDMA/GSM support, but we missed support for HTC's Inner Circle feature. It's also a bargain at just $50 with service and a mail-in rebate.

The HTC Ozone largely resembles the Snap, though it's slightly more angular and a tad lighter (3.7 ounces vs. 4.2 ounces). It retains the same dimensions (4.5 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.5 inch), however, and it sports a plain, black color scheme across its front face. But in a slight change, the back cover is gray rather than black. On the whole, it's an agreeable design, but we noticed that the Ozone also has a rather cheap plastic feel.

The 2.4-inch QVGA display is almost the same. It supports 64,000 colors (rather than 65,000), but the pixel resolution (320x240) is identical. It's still bright and clear, though not as sharp or as large as we'd like. And of course, it's not a touch screen. Customization options are similar to those on other Windows Mobile devices.

The Ozone's navigation controls have a slightly different design than the Snap.

HTC tweaked the design of the Ozone's navigation controls. You get the same buttons--a toggle with a central OK button, two soft keys, a Home shortcut, and a back button--but they have a more rectangular design. Also, while the Talk and End/power buttons remain on either side of the array, the Talk button now doubles as a voice recorder control. Though the design change doesn't make much of a different in terms of aesthetics, the array is largely flush. Only the OK button is raised, but it's thinner than we'd prefer.

While the Snap's keyboard was curved, the rows on the Ozone run straight across. Yet, the individual keys are about the same. Without any spacing between them, we found them to be equally cramped. They're not terrible, but they could be better. Fortunately, HTC did correct one of the Snap's flaws by moving the Shift key down to the bottom row. As expected, letter keys share space with numbers and symbols and the back and return keys are off to the left side.

The space bar is slightly off-center, and, in a unique move, it doubles as a shortcut to a communication manager app for controlling such features as the airplane mode, Bluetooth,and Wi-Fi. You also get useful shortcuts to the messaging app and mute mode. And thanks to the function button that sits in its usual place at the left side of the third row, you can lock the keys and activate the vibrate mode and the speakerphone.

Remaining features are few. The volume rocker sits on the right spine while a Mini-USB port for the charger and wired headphones sits on the bottom end. Like we've said with many HTC devices before the Ozone, it's disappointing that you don't get a standard headphone jack. The camera lens is located on the rear face and the microSD card slot is located on the right side behind the battery cover.

The Ozone ships with a wall charger with international plug adapters, a USB cable, a wired headset adapter, a software CD, and reference material.

Editor's note: Portions of this section are taken form the HTC Snap review.

Like the Snap, the Ozone is a messaging-centric device. As a Windows Mobile 6.1 device, it offers Microsoft Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. What's more, you can access POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts and use text, multimedia, and instant messaging. Luckily, the Ozone joins the Snap in supporting threaded text messaging, but we're disappointed that it lacks its cousin's Inner Circle features. Bad move, Verizon.

Beyond e-mail, the rest of the HTC Ozone's offerings are pretty much standard fare for a Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard phone. You'll find the usual Microsoft Office Mobile with document editing and PIM tools like a calendar, a task list, a calculator, and an alarm clock. We have to repeat that the operating system is looking pretty stale, but we're very happy with two important features than the Snap lacked: integrated Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g) and dual-mode for CDMA and GSM network support. Verizon hasn't been excessively generous with Wi-Fi on its smartphones, which is why we so welcome the opportunity to browse the Web without using our data plan.

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