Gadgeteers rejoice. HTC has released the first Windows Mobile 6.5 device thru Verizon Wireless, the HTC Imagio. The Imagio to some looks like a US version of the Touch HD, which was not released in the states. Time and time again we are left out of what people on the other side of the world are able to purchase and frequently wait for an announcement from a manufacturer to just shut us down. That looks to feel like those announcements are almost over. Since the bid for the 700 MHz spectrum has taken place, carriers are now more open to carry these handsets that are being released in other countries. Look at T-Mobile, in March they’re getting ready to launch the much anticipated, nerds dream phone, Windows Mobile Phone HTC Touch HD2. Verizon’s take in this is pretty simple, they didn’t get to launch the HD2, but they’re now trying to win over customers by getting more fashionably pretty handsets that get the job done; and make no mistake, while the Imagio screams buy me with that speaker grill/bezzel that makes it look oh so pretty, its as professional than any other PDA the rest of the carriers offer. Will the Imagio shine in places where other Windows Phones don’t? Find out after the jump for more information.
What you see is what you get. The Imagio is one of the most beautiful Windows Phone devices made to date. The grill surrounding the front casing of the phone adds a little more than glamor into the picture. It comes with a 3.6-inch WVGA resistive touchscreen, Wi-Fi, GPS, a 5MP camera, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD storage expansion (unfortunately it doesn’t include a card) and proximity sensor. It’s also the first smartphone with V-CAST Mobile TV, which is a Flo-TV based live streaming TV service that looks and feels a bit like digital cable, but made for a phone. It also has a valuable kickstand for picture and video viewing pleasure. When using the phone out in public, people thought I was using an iPhone 3GS because of its slick rounding edges and quarter glossy battery cover. From far it does look like an iPhone but its not. The build of the phone is very solid and feels very comfortable in your hands. The Imagio’s design features are very minimalistic. The volume keys are on the right, as well as the camera button, a row of buttons rests just beneath the screen, and the miniUSB charging port and 3.5mm jack are at the bottom end of the phone. Having the volume keys on the right side is different from most HTC phones, but sometimes change is good. When you use the kickstand to watch videos, having the volume keys on the right side makes them accessible due to the horizontal screen orientation. The button row contains your Answer, Multimedia, Start, Back, and End buttons. The end button doubles as a power on/off button.
Under the Hood
The Imagio features a Qualcomm 7600 series, 528MHz processor along with 288MB of RAM for all of your power user needs. The processor is pretty much the same that has been in the last few previous HTC devices, but with the bump in RAM at 288MB, it has a nice amount of extra speed to it so it doesn’t slow down as much as prior models did. With that being said, opening programs and switching between each of them is a breeze. There was little to no lag at all while having 10+ programs opened at the same time so that goes to show how Microsoft can stick it to Apple in one way. Under the back cover is the removable battery that is 1500mAh battery that should last you a whole day without charging it in the middle with moderate usage. I got through almost two whole days with emails, texting, web browsing and phone calls. Pretty good to know that I can rely on this if I need something to get me through a whole day or two. Underneath the battery you’ll find the sim card slot for international capabilities as well as the microSD slot and reset button. Usually the reset button on HTC devices is on the bottom, I wonder why they decided to place this one under the back cover. The Imagio is also equiped with bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The odd thing about the Wi-Fi is that you can turn it on/off in the settings window of WM 6.5 but in the TouchFLO Communications Manager, it is set to automatically turn on.
Media Device or Smartphone?
Windows Mobile isn’t usually known for their screen resolutions in all of their handsets (Touch HD & HD2 are the exceptions) or for music quality. Now replacing your iPod Touch or other personal PMP player is taking it to the extreme, but watching videos and listening to music on the Imagio is quite a pleasure. The sound of music is pretty much on par with an iPod and while video quality isn’t the best on this screen, a simple conversion using some type of program makes the viewing on this screen a delight to look at. The usual video codecs are on site such as .wmv, H.263, H.264. I also installed a DivX player and had no problem viewing a .divx and .xvid movie file. With that being said, I’m fondled on how come HTC didn’t implement their very own media player like they did with the Hero.
The call quality on the Imagio is great. Callers said I sounded loud and clear without any distortion. I had service pretty much everywhere I went and didn’t suffer from any dropped calls. Even in places where my Storm2 didn’t receive any bars the Imagio had one or two bars of 1X just so a call can come through. While listening to who I was speaking with, I noticed there was a slight hissing sound like their was with the LG Dare. Now I’m not sure if that was just my device doing that or if its an issue altogether, I’ll update the info on that when I find out more details. The speakerphone sounded loud and clear, even on its highest level. There was no distortion and the callers didn’t sound choppy when speaking. It would have been nice for HTC to implement the speaker button on the back of the Imagio just like on the TP2, but you can’t get everything right?
I know what you’re thinking, “Not another marketplace”. Truth is, yes its another one. Since Apple has come out with theirs, it is almost in everyone’s utmost passion to develop a marketplace to have customers purchase software and games to stay interested with either their devices or the platform they are currently using. The Windows Marketplace is pretty new to the game and developers are creating applications for the platform. Now with that being said, applications should be a cinch to create for this platform since it has been out for almost a decade, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Developers are pretty much focused on the iPhone about 75% of the time and the closest app store is the Android one. How many apps are there available in the App Store now, somewhat close to 150,000? That is completely massive. Windows has some catching up to do. Besides that, the Marketplace is actually quite nice to look at though. When you enter the Marketplace, you have a search bar placed at the top as well as featured applications available for download. Directly under that you have a few categories to make finding your application a breeze. It’s broken down as follows: Showcase, Most Popular, What’s New, Categories and My Applications. The Showcase section is for the premium applications available for purchase. Most Popular, well, speaks for itself as well as What’s New, Categories and My Applications. Categories is broken down by categories (don’t need rocket science to figure that out ehh) such as business center, games, entertainment, and lifestyle. I like the overall style of the Marketplace, it’s nicely developed and categorized. Hopefully in the near future they have a bigger selection in applications, it’s still new so only time will tell.
The HTC Imagio supports SMS, MMS and email. SMS and MMS share an inbox and a message editor and thanks to TouchFLO, you can enjoy scrolling in the inboxes and through longer messages. The Message tab offers a great interface for managing messages. With the nice interface and touch-optimization it’s highly unlikely you will ever switch back to the standard Windows SMS inbox. The email inbox is also available as a homescreen tab with an eye-catching view. The email editor will hold no surprises for experienced WinMo users as it has not changed at all. Setting up your email is easy as it is on most of the latest mid or high range phones. You type your email and password and all the other steps are configured automatically. HTC has equipped the device with a set of home-grown thumbable virtual keyboards. It’s a commendable feature since the default Windows Mobile keyboards are fit for stylus use only. The first keyboard is a regular 9-key multi-tap keypad, the second one is a brand new full QWERTY and the third one is a regular Windows Mobile QWERTY optimized for use with a stylus. The new QWERTY differs from the previous one in button placement and a five-row design that gives you all four navigation arrows in the final row. In landscape mode you get the typical three-row full QWERTY with nav-keys on the right. In applications where screen auto-rotation is enabled, you also get larger landscape versions of those keyboards. The keys are big enough, the gaps between the letters takes away the chances to hit two letters in the same time and the button’s places are very well placed.
With EVDO Rev. A and Wi-Fi in the mix, web browsing and data consumption shouldn’t be a problem. Where I am currently located, the EVDO Rev. A speeds are currently blazing fast like the Millennium Falcon going into warp speed and I have no problems with connecting at all. So downloading images, emails, songs and applications should be as fast right? Correct. Here is why. The Imagio comes with Opera 9.5 and Internet Explorer 6 right out of the box and they are both good browsers in their own ways. Opera as you all know, uses a compression technology unlike no other to render fully blown web-pages on mobile devices and for that reason, it is the default browser on the Imagio. The Opera browser is extensively touch-optimized and draws inspiration from the iPhone’s Safari. The browser has matured since its introduction in the Touch HD and has been updated time after time to perform with no bugs and that is a sure pleasure. The Imagio offers automatic screen rotation inside the web browser and Opera 9.5 offers a landscape QWERTY, but in the presence of the hardware one this option won’t be necessary. It also comes with a handy download manager which keeps track on the files you are currently downloading and downloaded previously. So after all of the mobile Safari comparison, do you understand why I said it’s blazing fast previously? One word, Opera.
It’ll do. Just kidding. Through two weeks of using the Imagio, battery life was above average. With constant emails, texting, web browsing, tweeting and listening to music, the Imagio lasted me throughout the whole day. HTC has given us a very good 1500 mAh battery to back up this Multimedia monster or however which way you plan on using it. If the Imagio didn’t have the Sense UI in this, I doubt it would last half a day since Sense does consume massive data for its programs. I connected the Imagio on a land line call and let it go until its last breathe to test out the battery life on a call. The results surpassed the specs sheet HTC has given us, 5.3 hours to the 5 hours already given. So a little extra juice is always a benefit to know that you can go a whole day or so with this device.
The HTC Imagio from Verizon Wireless is a fine handset. The stylish and sleek looks may have people think you are using an iPhone until they see the front and notice it isn’t. Would I purchase one for my personal usage? That answer is no. It is not a bad phone don’t get me wrong. I’m just never satisfied with just one phone for a certain amount of time. Would I purchase this phone for my wife? Yes. Something that can get her through the day and let her be able to see a few emails here and there with massive texting on a responsive screen; she’ll definitely jump on it. It’s also the kind of phone that females would consider “cute” mainly because its sleek, slim and pocketable. You can’t sell a phone now that is bulky because people want to put their devices in their skinny jeans all of a sudden and it seems that HTC and Verizon continues to go that route (with the exception of the Touch Pro2). Overall, this is a great phone. It gets the job done when it needs to and is reliable at times when needed. It earns my stamp of approval. Will you give it the same?