HTC Imagio

The HTC Imagio is a high-end smartphone from Verizon that is one of the first with Windows Mobile 6.5.

This multimedia-oriented smartphone has a 3.6-inch, WVGA touchscreen, mobile broadband, Wi-Fi, and GPS, and is one of the successors of the HTC Touch HD.

It's available now for $200 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year service agreement.


HTC Imagio for VerizonIn terms of physical design, the Imagio is probably the closest thing to a pure iPhone clone that we've yet seen running Windows Mobile. Unlike some of the previous attempts, it mimics the rounded back of the iPhone, the visual and physical stylings, right down to the "slide to unlock" feature.

Of course, it has a slightly larger display than the iPhone's, at a much higher screen resolution. The 3.6-inch, WVGA screen is big and beautiful.

It also has substantially more buttons, but that's expected too.

There's not a whole lot else to say about the design. It is, fundamentally, a no-frills tablet-type device. There aren't many fancy add-ons or facets to the design, with one notable exception: a built in stand. Push the little black button on the back, and a silver plastic "arm" pops out that you can unfold and use to keep the device held up when on a desk or other hard surface. Of course you can't have a USB cable or other charger connected while you're doing that, nor can you use the headphone jack, so it's limited in it's usefulness. But still kind of neat.

It's a bit heavier than some other smartphones -- although the Imagio is only slightly larger than my Samsung Jack, the Jack feels like it's about half the Imagio's weight. That's a little bit of an exaggeration, since difference is only 102 versus 150 grams. Still, the balance of the Imagio in the hand is pretty nice, not awkward at all.

I'm very pleased with the build quality; it feels like HTC's classic units, just this side of bomb proof.


Performance? In a word? Good. The software package is great -- hard to beat Opera, TouchFLO, HTC's YouTube app, photographic GPS tagging, 5 MPx camera, FM radio, etcetera.

It sports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Verizon's mobile broadband service EV-DO and even has quad-band GSM for world roaming -- though just because it's quad-band, don't expect to be using it for that in the U.S. It's still SIM locked to Vodafone overseas.

HTC Imagio for VerizonI could go on. In fact, I'd probably run out of space if I tried to list all the features the HTC Imagio has.

There's only two things that I would say about performance that are of note. One is that the device bogged down at a few points, particularly when opening the VCast application -- which absolutely should not happen on a 528 MHz processor. I suspect either Verizon's app is substandard, or there's potential for improved system performance in a future ROM update, probably both.

Second is that while this model comes with a spacious 512 MB of internal flash, the majority of this is eaten up before the user gets there. In fact, out of the box there's only about 158 MB of memory left to the user. I know that the pre-bundled software needs space to live, but that seems a bit excessive.

Windows Mobile 6.5 Pro
The Imagio is my first crack at a Windows Mobile 6.5 device, so I should have a lot to say about the new OS, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. Like all new HTC units, this smartphone comes with a thick gloss of HTC customized software and menus, thus making it difficult bordering on impossible to see what a "stock" version of WM6.5 would look and feel like. Those of you who are more curious about the underlying OS will have to skip on over to read Ed's review of Windows Mobile 6.5 instead.

But what you do get with the Imagio is more or less what you've gotten with previous HTC devices. The TouchFLO interface is still there, with a few more tweaks since the last time I saw it. The application launching system has changed a little -- surprise! It's more iPhone like, allowing for more favorited applications and smoother scrolling among them. Personally I think the edits they've made are generally for the better, and that they've made a much more user-friendly Windows Mobile device for having done so.

One side note: I can't help but notice that Verizon has started using the "3G" icon in the top bar instead of the old EVDO icon. Presumably this is thanks in large part to the marketing campaigns of Sprint and AT&T, along with the release of the iPhone 3G, driving the idea of "3G" mainstream.

HTC Imagio for VerizonThe list of bundled software beyond the interface is pretty extensive. There's Opera Mobile and YouTube, of course, but there's a lot more little things that are rarely mentioned -- like the two-dimensional spirit level that's part of the G-sensor application, or the little widget that tells you the city and state of a given area code.

Like all Windows phones, the Imagio comes with Microsoft Office Mobile and Microsoft Outlook Mobile.

It also has Windows Media Player for playing music and video stored on a microSD card. In addition, this is Verizon Wireless' first smartphone to support V CAST Mobile TV and V CAST Video on Demand, which offer streaming news, sports, and entertainment.

The device also supports the new Windows Marketplace, though this is a bit less polished than the rest of the device. Partly due to the unnecessary presence of scrollbars on the side of the screen taking up valuable space when a more subtle indicator would do just as well. Also because you need to have a Windows Live user sign in to get anything from the Marketplace, even free software. Yes, I know it's free to register for Windows Live, but to be blunt I shouldn't have to. Provide premium reasons to sign up, such as bonus points for purchased software, or a roster of applications you've previously downloaded, or advance access to new applications. But users should be able to pick up and go with downloading new software without having to jump through hoops, or sign up for Microsoft's data mining. And, if possible, they should be enabled to pay via premium SMS.


HTC Imagio for VerizonThe HTC Imagio is probably the best iPhone imitator I've yet seen -- it produces a more-or-less faithful reproduction of the iPhone's style, while still having enough of it's own selling points that it's not just a copycat.

While it might not satisfy hard-core Mac users, I think that a lot of Verizon users who've been having that iPhone itch will find this more than suitable. Even I have come to really enjoy using it, and you know how I am about wanting to have my physical keyboard.

A few oversights aside, it's a well designed and well built piece of hardware.


* Large, high-resolution screen
* Solid build quality
* Well stocked with software


* Inconsistent speed
* Less memory than it should have