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HTC Imagio (Verizon Wireless) review: HTC Imagio (Verizon Wireless)

HTC Imagio (Verizon Wireless)

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
9 min read


HTC Imagio (Verizon Wireless)

The Good

The HTC Imagio has support for Verizon's V Cast Mobile TV and the carrier's array of V Cast multimedia services. It also has Windows Mobile 6.5, a slew of productivity apps, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, EV-DO Rev. A, and world phone capabilities. We love the huge touch screen, the 3.5-mm headset jack, the 5-megapixel camera, and the antenna that doubles as a kickstand.

The Bad

The HTC Imagio's microSD card is located behind the battery cover and the call quality can be a little choppy.

The Bottom Line

The HTC Imagio is rich with both multimedia and business features, making it a great all-in-one smartphone for the Verizon globe-trotter.

Verizon Wireless' V Cast video and music service bundle has long been a staple feature of its high-profile feature phones, like the LG enV Touch and the Samsung Rogue for example. But it is typically lacking in Verizon's smartphone offerings, so as not to detract from the smartphone's more business-friendly attributes. However, it seems like Verizon has changed its tune with the HTC Imagio, the carrier's first-ever smartphone to support not only the V Cast array of multimedia services, but also V Cast Mobile TV, the carrier's live mobile television service. The HTC Imagio also marks Verizon's first ever Windows Mobile 6.5 device.

The Imagio's multimedia strengths continue with a 3.5-mm headphone jack, a 5-megapixel camera, a microSD card slot, a beautiful touch screen, and even a kickstand for watching videos. We're also glad to see Wi-Fi on here in addition to EV-DO Rev. A. If you're a globe-trotting executive, you'll revel in the Imagio's quad-band GSM capabilities as well. Thankfully, you won't have to pay a premium for all this; the Imagio is quite reasonable at $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and a $100 mail-in rebate.

Though the HTC Imagio touts itself as a multimedia smartphone, it is not as flashy as other multimedia-focused handhelds. This is not to say it isn't attractive; indeed, we love the large touch-screen display as well as the smooth edges and tapered corners. But the dimpled bezel surrounding the display, which doubles as the speaker, and the thick plastic casing gives it more of a hefty industrial feel. Measuring 4.6 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighing 5.25 ounces, the Imagio has quite a sturdy construction and is not at all flimsy or cheap. The back of the Imagio is partially covered in a matte-black soft-touch finish, which gives it a comfortable feel in the hand.

The HTC Imagio has a large 3.6-inch touch screen.

By far the most stunning thing about the Imagio's appearance is its large 3.6-inch WVGA touch screen. It has 65,000-color output, 480x800-pixel resolution, and a smooth glass surface, which result in beautifully crisp images and sharp text. The extra screen real estate lends itself well to Web page scrolling and video viewing as well. Also handy is the built-in accelerometer that switches the screen from portrait to landscape mode when you rotate the phone. This is only applicable in certain situations, though, like with the Web browser, e-mail, photos, and videos.

Even though the Imagio does not have the Touch branding, it does use HTC's TouchFlo 3D interface--you can read our review of the HTC Touch to get further details on it. Like that on the HTC Touch Pro2, you get additional tabs for the Calendar and Stock quotes, plus the ability to add and remove tabs on the Home screen. We also really like that the Start menu is presented in a grid view, which you can customize with different apps and settings.

The Imagio has a resistive touch screen rather than a capacitive one. We usually complain about this because resistive displays require more precision than capacitive screens, but in the case of the Imagio, we were quite pleased with it. The touch screen felt responsive and easy to use, even when we were just using our fingers instead of the included stylus. We even liked the onscreen QWERTY keyboard, especially since it supports XT9 auto word complete and tapping the keys provides haptic feedback. We do prefer using the keyboard in landscape mode rather than in portrait mode, however, as the keys are a bit bigger, thus resulting in fewer mistakes.

There's a zoom in/out bar underneath the display.

The zoom in/out bar underneath the display helped a lot when reading and selecting hyperlinks in the Web browser as well, since you could just zoom in easily by sliding your finger on the bar. It does take a couple of seconds for the page to render when zooming in, though. Underneath the zoom controls are the Talk and End/Power keys, a media key, the Start menu key, and a back key. The media key can be mapped to any media application, like V Cast TV, V Cast Video, or the music player. The keys are flat, but there is enough delineation between each key that they weren't hard to press.

The HTC Imagio has a kickstand on the back, which allows us to view videos hands-free.

The volume rocker is on the right spine and the mini-USB port and 3.5mm headset jack are on the bottom. On the back is the camera lens plus an antenna that doubles as a kickstand; simply press the release button and it'll pop out. This way you can set the Imagio on a flat surface and watch videos as if it were a portable television. Also on the back toward the lower right is the stylus compartment. The microSD card slot is inconveniently located behind the battery cover on the right side.

The HTC Imagio came packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable,an array of international plug adapters, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

In both multimedia and business features, the HTC Imagio brings the goods. Not only does it have a great camera and access to V Cast services, it is also Verizon's first phone to come with Windows Mobile 6.5 built right in. You get all the standard personal information management and productivity tools of course, like Microsoft Office Mobile Suite, Adobe Reader LE, a calendar, a task list, a voice recorder, and more. You also get Microsoft Direct Push technology that lets you sync your e-mail, calendar, tasks, and contacts via your company's Exchange server. Verizon offers Mobile Email for your POP3 and IMAP e-mail accounts as well.

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.

The HTC Imagio has a 5-megapixel camera on the back.

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 HTC Imagio takes good pictures.

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.


HTC Imagio (Verizon Wireless)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 7