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.
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.
The CDMA/GSM support is perfect for world travelers. You'll be able to access voice and data services, like Internet and e-mail, in 220 countries thanks to a preinstalled SIM card. Just be aware that even though it's a quad-band GSM world phone, the Ozone's SIM card can't connect to domestic GSM networks. For more information on Verizon's international roaming, check out CNET's quick guide to world phones.
The Ozone supports Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A network. Currently, Verizon's 3G network covers 242 major metropolitan areas and reaches 210 million people. It promises average download speeds of 600Kbps to 1.4Mbps and average upload speeds of 500 to 800 Kbps, peaking at 1.8 Mbps. The Ozone also comes with Internet Explorer Mobile, an RSS Hub and Adobe Reader.
Voice features of the HTC Ozone include a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, and voice commands and dialing. The contact book is limited only by the available memory, and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, instant-messaging handles, and birthdays. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a picture, a group ID, or a custom ringtone. Bluetooth is also onboard with support for mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, personal area networking, object push, file transfer, and more.
As for other features, you'll find Remote Desktop Mobile, ActiveSync, and a voice recorder. Verizon-specific offerings include VZ Navigator, Visual Voice Mail, Mobile Broadband Connect, and Wireless Sync. Most of these carrier features will cost you an additional fee. The Ozone comes with two games: Solitaire and Bubble Breaker
Multimedia features aren't extensive. The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in five resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to 320x240. Other editing options include four quality modes, three color effects, spot metering, a digital zoom, a self-timer, adjustable brightness, four white balance settings, and a time stamp. The camera also records video. Unfortunately, photo quality wasn't improved over the Snap; we saw that same orangish/brownish hue on our images. Windows Media Player is also onboard, though the Ozone doesn't support Verizon's streaming video or music download services. The handset has 256MB of flash memory and 192MB of ROM. The microUSB slot accommodates cards up to 16GB.
We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 800/1900; GSM 850/900/1800/1900) HTC Ozone in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was quite decent; we didn't hear the background hiss that we heard on the Snap. The signal remained strong and clear and voices sounded natural. Our only complaint is that the volume could be louder. We had trouble hearing when talking in really noisy environments, like interior spaces with a lot of public announcements. We did not test GSM voice quality because, as previously mentioned, the Ozone will only connect with Verizon's CDMA network domestically. Yet, as a true world phone, it will work in a wide range of countries around the world.
Callers said we sounded great. In fact, a few couldn't tell that we were using a cell phone. A few of our friends also said they had trouble hearing us when we were in loud places, but they were in the minority. Automated calling systems could understand us as long as we were talking in a relatively quiet space. Speakerphone calls were satisfactory as well, though the volume was also a bit soft. We successfully paired the Ozone with the Plantronics Voyager Pro and enjoyed respectable call quality. The Ozone is compatible with M3 and T3 hearing aids.
Besides support for Verizon's 3G EV-DO Rev. A network, the Ozone also supports the carrier's slower 2.5G 1xRTT data network. You should need to fall back onto that only outside of major urban areas. GSM data coverage tops out at EDGE, which means that you're shut out from 3G UMTS or HSDPA networks when abroad. That's disappointing.
Like the Snap, the Ozone is powered by a 528MHz Qualcomm processor. Internal performance was zippy, with minimal delay or lag during our testing period. Browsing on Verizon's 3G network was comparable to our Snap experience on Sprint. CNET's full site took 55 seconds to load, while the mobile site came up in 18 seconds. CNN's and People Magazine's mobile sites loaded in six and five seconds, respectively. Wi-Fi performance was also fast, but we have to reiterate that even with the enhancements in Internet Explorer Mobile 6, the browser is still really clunky to navigate.