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

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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


The Ozone's camera lens rests on its rear face.

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.


The Ozone has disappointing photo quality.

Performance
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.

The HTC Ozone has a rated battery life of 4.83 hours talk time and 13.5 days standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Ozone has a digital SAR of 1.03 watts per kilogram.

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