8/10/2009

Windows Mobile Phone HTC Ozone

Well, so I finally managed to get my hands on a Verizon smartphone. I bought a $30/mo data plan and then have an app on the phone that turn it into a wifi router so that my phone is essentially a mobile wifi router allowing me to get my iPhone online without an AT&T contract at half the price - yay! It wil also give me internet access for my laptop on the bus, at work, and in class (yes, many UMass classrooms STILL don't have wifi!!! GAH). I got the HTC Ozone, a new relatively-cheap windows mobile smartphone (that is also called the Snap on Sprint).

How to do the hacking to enable wifi sharing:
First I installed the ICS app from this thread
then I installed the WMwifirouter trial
I also changed the DUN setting (not sure if this is necessary or not) as described here (the ##778 bit):
and yes, it does eat the battery life like crazy - gonna have to buy a spare battery or three...

Thoughts on the HTC Ozone:
The hardware is not bad - it's a standard candybar phone - not too clunky, but not exactly compact. It does need a more convenient keyboard lock switch though. The physical keyboard takes some getting used to, and I'm much slower than on the iPhone with its predictive text, but I did pick it up more rapidly than I did the iPhone keyboard. Some dumb key positioning choices - like the FN (function) button should be larger, etc, but rather useable.

Thoughts on Windows Mobile:
Not as bad as I'd feared, but it is clear why people don't use the features on their conventional smart phones much. It takes a zillion taps to do anydamn thing with this UI - everything is buried under a million stupid menus. There are some very powerful apps out there, and the ability to run background apps is handy, but there's no easy way to quit an app. Also, it seems impossible to change the shortcuts on the home page rendering it largely useless and forcing you to search through more menus to get to even the apps you use the most. Also, many of the apps and the system UI, especially the older parts, are just butt ugly to the point of actually hurting functionality (they make it harder to pick out what's important at a glance).

Will I use this phone much as a smart phone? Probably not - I expect I'll stick to using my iPhone whenever I can for it's much quicker and more intuitive UI experience. But does it serve my needs of giving me roaming internet access at a reasonable-ish price? Seems so - but we'll see how robust and useable the wifi is soon enough. (reception is so crappy at home that I can't really test the internet effectively - the signal keeps dropping out)

[Followup 1 year later: The HTC hardware is crappier than I'd thought and has already given out. The entire top row of buttons (nav, power, call, etc) DON'T WORK anymore - I have to mash them super-hard and they will respond about 50% of the time. WIndows Mobile is about as crappy as I'd anticipated, and the single app I ever use on it is the WMWifi router one.]

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