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HTC Rezound Review

Video editing by Steve Albright

The HTC Rezound is the first phone in the United States to offer Beats Audio technology after HTC paid a large sum to acquire the maker of high-end headphones. While the enhanced sound quality is definitely the phone’s major selling point, HTC didn’t skimp on other hardware elements. The phone features a dual-core processor, HD display, and 4G LTE connectivity through Verizon. It all adds up to a hit in the making, but does the Rezound keep time with other device’s of its class?

Hardware

The HTC Rezound is a meaty handset, both figuratively and literally. For every spec it offers it seems to gain a few millimeters around the waistline. The most prominent feature is the device’s beautiful 720p HD 4.3-inch Super LCD display. It gets the job done on all levels, with a great balance of color, clarity, and size. Within the belly of the beast lies a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8660 processor complimented by 1GB of DDR2 RAM. A hefty 16GB of internal storage is supplemented with a microSD card slot. A 16GB card is included.

The Rezound lacks many physical ports, with only a 3.5mm headset jack for the included Beats Audio headphones and a USB port which doubles as an HDMI output given the proper connector. The phone retains a rather nondescript appearance when looking head-on, sticking firmly to HTC’s recent design language. From the rear, the phone looks like a blown-up Droid Incredible (even more apparent in the Rezound’s red-tinted internal casing). A textured battery cover provides grip without sacrificing style.

The Rezound’s 8MP camera is capable of 1080p HD video recording and gets the luxury of a dual-LED flash. It is joined by a 2MP front-facing camera.

Call quality is above average, with good clarity and noise reduction in both standard and speakerphone modes. The Rezound features several auxiliary microphones that no doubt aid in this cause.

With hardware that pushes the limits of what is possible with an Android smartphone, HTC wasn’t able to slim down the Rezound’s design as much as, say, Motorola did with the Droid RAZR, a handset the Rezound will often be compared to. The rezoned measures in 129 x 65.5 x 13.65mm, making it a little over a half-inch thick. That’s nearly double the RAZR at its thinnest point, and still a quite bit thicker than Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, an LTE device also for Verizon.

But the size isn’t all bad. While the phone does feel a bit bulky (we’d imagine especially for someone with smaller hands), it also feels satisfyingly well built. It’s the sort of craftsmanship we have come to expect from HTC, and they lose no points with the Rezound.

Software

The Rezound’s hardware is a perfect compliment to its software, which features HTC Sense 3.5 built up around Android 2.3.4. Interestingly, the Sense build found on the Rezound, though the same as that of the recently released HTC Rhyme , features a slightly altered UI.

Where the Rhyme saw a new take on the standard HTC launcher, the Rezound sticks to the classic look. Still, several new features that debuted on the Rhyme are present, including the ability to arrange, delete, and add homescreens. HTC has included their full portfolio of Android widgets, so you can expect much of the same from the Rezound.

Bundled software includes offerings typical of Verizon such as Blockbuster, Slacker, and a suite of VZW apps. HTC includes their own HTC Watch for viewing streaming video, and Google’s suite of mobile apps is present.

Gaming is about as smooth as you’d expect with the powerful processor and plenty of RAM. Web surfing is equally as enjoyable thanks to the large display size and 4G LTE download speeds.

Combined with the power of the Rezound’s hardware, there was nary a snag or hangup to be found. The overall experience felt polished and well-executed.

Camera

The 8MP camera with dual LED flash and autofocus provided a great starting point for shooting both video and pictures. As with previous releases, HTC’s camera software comes loaded with plenty of effects and scene settings to help you find the perfect look for your photos.

As is typical, the best results come with a bit of custom tweaking. For whatever reason, HTC has limited the ability to tweak settings for anything but “Auto” mode. This means when using close-up mode for macro images, the white balance and other options remain static, often leading to less than desirable results.

High definition video continues to impress, but the frame rate still stutters a bit more than we’d like. Overall, the camera provides above average results in most situations, though low-light settings did create some problems.

Beats Audio

HTC’s biggest pull with the Rezound is the inclusion of Beats Audio, a first for a smartphone released in the US. To further the appeal, a pair of in-ear Beats by Dre headphones are included. They aren’t near the quality you would get for a set of Beats headphones priced upwards of $100, but you do get a nice carrying case and several differently-sized plugs for the perfect fit. We were pleasantly surprised with sound quality, a large part of which most likely had to do with the Beats Audio software filter.

Though Beats is featured prominently on the handset, the only place to get confirmation of its existence is through the default Music app. A Beat Audio toggle appears in the notifications pane allowing you to turn the filter on and off, and the difference in sound quality is noticeable. Beats Audio provides deeper bass, richer mids and highs, and much fuller sound overall. The toggle most likely exists to emphasize the difference, as most would never want to turn it off. While the toggle is found nowhere else, Beats Audio seems to carry over to other music and video apps.

The apparent quality of the included headphones is no doubt enhanced by the software filter, but they do get a nice touch in the form of an in-line controller for shuffling or pausing music and answering incoming calls. A microphone is built into the headset.

Conclusion

The HTC Rezound is a fine handset, and would be a real game changer if it was the only device of its class. For Verizon subscribers, however, two other options exist in the form of the Droid RAZR and Galaxy Nexus. All three match up on almost all the major areas, but the Rezound is the only to emphasize audio as a differentiating factor. If your Android device is your primary music player, the Rezound is a safe bet among the three, even if you will likely end up purchasing a better set of headphones than the included pair.

Continue reading on the HTC Rezound forums, see the specs, or find news and reviews.




  • techgeeky

    I will consider HTC phones when they stop their sense thing and start offering pure Android experience 

    • AJA0

      That will never happen. If you want a pure Android experience your only options are to either root the handset or get a Google Nexus phone.

      • T4rd

        This man speaks the truth.  I also find it a bit funny that HTC is determined to skin/bloat up ICS even though ICS pretty much integrates everything (worth having) previous Sense versions have had and more.  It’s going to be interesting how they manage to mess up ICS.

        • UHF3

          “Worth having” is a relative term.  You should get over yourself.

          • T4rd

            Get over myself? Lolz.. Please elaborate. You should work on (not) getting butt hurt from a review comment. See, I can presume things about other people too!

    • http://www.facebook.com/adam.magie Adam Magie

      This will happen, maybe, after 4.0.  Other than that…you might as well wait for the sky to turn green.

      • http://twitter.com/Aeok18109 Ernesto Lugo

        it is green :) do some googling lol

  • Craig Hawkins

    Does the notification LED produce more than a green and amber color?

    Also, any word on the external speaker?  HTC really disappointed me with the design of the Thunderbolt, putting the speaker under the useless kickstand, so I am hoping that’s improved with the Rezound.

    Edited to add in response to the above poster: I will stop buying HTC phones if they stop using Sense. I love it and it adds great functionality to Android.

    • Dave Dean

      I liked the kickstand on the Thunderbolt, though yeah it would be better if it didn’t block the speaker. Nice design work. Not a problem now that I sold it on ebay and picked up a Charge

    • GLOCKMAMA

      Got the T-bolt day of launch, had pre-ordered the 1st 2nd they took orders. Very disappointed over last few months. 1st 2 buy Rezound this morning. Back speaker is much louder & crisper. Over all volume & clarity through headphones, speaker, & bluetooth is much better. Not sure what earbuds all these haters r usin either, but I love the Beats & it’s a VERY noticeable difference when disabled. U wouldn’t think it shivered bad, until u heard it enabled & hear how much better it is. Incredibly happy do far.

      • GLOCKMAMA

        Got the T-bolt day of launch, had pre-ordered the 1st 2nd they took orders. Very disappointed over last few months. 1st 2 buy Rezound this morning. Back speaker is much louder & crisper. Over all volume & clarity through headphones, speaker, & bluetooth is much better. Not sure what earbuds all these haters r usin either, but I love the Beats & it’s a VERY noticeable difference when disabled. U wouldn’t think it sounded bad, until u heard it enabled & hear how much better it is. Incredibly happy so far.

  • http://twitter.com/thegregbradley Greg Bradley

    Somebody bought a MK5 GTI :) As a Corrado owner, I approve of the photography in this review.

    • Wei Tai

      MK5 GTI owners, rejoice!

  • BobbyHill12

    Nice looking phone and that screen looks amazing. If the rumor about the Nexus being delayed until freaking December is true, then I will be getting this phone next Monday. 

  • itsthenew

    Best PPI out of all phones, non pentile display…but the tiniest battery possible. Just trot out the 2000mah phones and let me enjoy my phone all day! Roms and kernels only do so much.

  • Beyond_Max_Power

    I look at Beats Audio as a minus.  I would rather get beaten by Dr. Dre than have to listen to his Beats headphones for any period of time.  

    • http://openid.aol.com/inguatu newdiedewdie

      then turn off the filter.  Your attempt at being smarmy fails on basic common sense.

      • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

        Exactly. Or just use ur own damn headphones.  It’s not like ur paying extra for them.  Beats haters act like their being glued to their ears or something.  I welcome any extra feature or incentive at no extra cost.  Plus no major reviewers have complained about them so far.

  • kenneth blanks

    The RAZR is not in the same class as the Rezound. Just picked mine up today. Hopeful someone will buy my Bionic soon.

    • joejoe509

      How is it not in the same class? They’re direct competitors.

  • Hugh Hansen Jr.

    The only things that would sway me to this phone over the Galaxy Nexus are significantly superior camera and audio quality. From the reviews I’ve read, that doesn’t look like it will be the case.

    Also, the LTE test in the video was done while the phone was on WiFi. 

    • Allen Mayes

      htc makes some of the best cameras and this one is great i have the phone it sounds great as well 

    • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

      Check out Wirefly’s review.  He did it without WiFi in a not so good location and still got a good result.

  • zorxd

    I think the 1280×720 display is much more important than the software filter gimmick called beats audio.

    • Del373

      Amen, the ppi on this phone is the only thing that has me second guessing getting the Nexus.  With a pixel density greater than that of the retina display on a screen bigger than the retina display I’m seriously considering this as my next device.

      …though ICS and future-proofness is very tempting.

      • zorxd

        what count is the resolution, not the ppi
        You wouldn’t trade that phone for a similar (same physical size) but with a 4″ display even if it would have higher ppi.
        You would, however, trade it for a 4.5″ phone with a smaller bezel and the same footprint.

      • joejoe509

        I dunno. I think it’s a bit of everything. Size matters, resolution matters and also ppi. The Nexus finds that perfect sweet spot between all three.

  • Wes

    Yay he doesn’t have long finger nails lol

  • Shea Storer

    In the review he says those dots on the back are mics, that is untrue it is the LTE radio antenna.

    • http://openid.aol.com/inguatu newdiedewdie

      proof, Shamus?

  • KyleNC

    wonder how much I could sell those earbuds for, maybe make up for that 299 pricetag

    • logotic

      I’ll give fitty cent!

    • http://openid.aol.com/inguatu newdiedewdie

      compared to what?  The Razr price tag?  The Nexus price tag?  They’re all the same price.   qq

    • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

      $199 on Amazon.  Know where to look.

  • TzuDohNihm

    :50 seconds into the second video I turned it off.

    Point, not dot.

  • logotic

    This is a nice phone. Has a lot to offer. HTC’s build quality is always impeccable. I LOVES me them red soft keys. The only thing that keeps me from buying it is the fear that a true professional sound engineer might see me holding a device with a Beats audio logo and dismiss me as a tool.

    • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

      Any true sound engineer u know ain’t got nothin on Dre.  Whether Beats suck or not.

  • Del373

    I keep forgetting about bloatware…which is odd considering how much I dislike it.  I will most likely be getting the Nexus.

  • http://www.mediamongrel.net Corey Shaughnessy

    I’d like to point out that this phone probably doesn’t literally share many characteristics with meat. The word “literal” and its variations have to be the most improperly used words on the Internet right next to “epic”.

    • http://openid.aol.com/inguatu newdiedewdie

      I think you’re taking the word “literal” too literally.   Stop it, Saugnassey

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002567534551 Nathan Nye

      I usually try not to make posts like this but when someone (incorrectly) attempts to point out another writer’s mistakes, I take umbrage.  One of the definitions of “meaty” is “heavily built; fleshy or brawny.”  By that definition, I see where the phone is literally “meaty” as it is is a larger phone.  If anything Shaughnessy, you should have taken issue with “figuratively.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    It’s disappointing that the included earbuds aren’t that great.  Either way I was going to get a nice pair for Christmas.  

  • texanaustinite

    Played with one today. The screen is amazing… and not just when compared to my Incredible.

    Definitely considering for next upgrade.

    Will root it of course… ;-)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HLCDWAIB2FFWG2YQCBLOJJ2WMI LarryT

    I think you guys (jump cut) should stop (jump cut) using all that (jump cut) jump cut (jump cut, twice) in your videos (jump cut).

    On a serious note, while I do enjoy Phandroid I have to be honest in that I feel your reviews are really boring and all of the jump cuts make it seem like a video for people with ADHD or for those with the attention span of a goldfish. There’s also the fact that Kevin and Quentyn have very boring monotone voices, while Chris Chavez sounds a bit too preppy (though more entertaining than the former two). Rob Jackson in my opinion does the best in terms of reviews in the Phandroid team. Also on another note, you guys should probably buy a better camera when doing reviews as it’s pretty low quality and I’m sure you could afford it with all the ad revenue you get and that the editors/bloggers here probably get paid decently. 

    I mean you guys do a pretty good job, but I feel I could a way better review that’s straight to the point, informative, without the use of jump cuts, and make the video watchable while lacking the lame gimmicky reviewer type of personality. I don’t mean to belittle you guys with my high standards, it’s just that for someone who has overall experience in Mass Communications with a Bachelor’s degree, it’s almost cringe worthy for me to watch the video. Droid-Life and AndroidCentral definitely have great video reviews, so does Phandroid, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. I hope you guys don’t take this as a hate post but more of a little critique, or a meta review.

    Keep of the good work

  • T_Dizzle

    If you don’t like Beats don’t enable it. If you don’t like Sense or bloatware root it right away as that has been done already. Now that ICS CM9 is in the works you can have it all. As for T-Bolt owners, sorry your experience was less than awesome but my original Incredible still rocks with CM7 running. If you want extra battery performance buy another one.

    • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

      Well said. I’ve never rooted but with the extra processing power I can just throw a launcher over Sense if I don’t wanna use it.  And I always had spare batteries for my OG Evo to get me thru the late nights out n about on the weekends.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_N4MMB4267MXXB776RBJGEHW7KQ D Symons

    No mention of battery life?!?!

    • http://www.mark717.com Mark Seven

      Most likely won’t be that great.  Get an extra one or two…

  • Thijsvr

    Omg, you got this device to review and seriously all you could talk about was the Beats audio. Seriously, if I bought the phone I’d sell the headphones the same day. Bullshit stuff, over-amplifying bass and get all these teens out there to like it with the friggin’ red logo.
    Just remove all mention about it having Beats and give me discount. I just want a good phone, not a walking billboard.

    And I really feel this review is lacking. It’s a dualcore 720p phone, not an mp3 player!

  • Sheen160

    Am I the only one that under the “Software” review he states that he’s loading up Phandroid using 4G, but he’s actually on wifi. I agree with previous posters, Rob is the only one whose reviews i enjoy. 

  • http://openid.aol.com/inguatu newdiedewdie

    You could be a hand model.

  • Jesus Lopez

    After seeing the Rezound, there is
    no question why HTC is a huge leader in the mobile phone industry. I have been
    anticipating the HTC Rezound for a long time, especially since it comes with
    Android version 2.3, dual core processor and combines them with Verizon’s 4G
    LTE network. I am excited to get this phone, especially since it has Beats
    audio and I recently got my employee Sling adapter from DISH Network. With the
    Sling adapter, I can stream live and recorded TV to my Android phone everywhere
    I have 3G coverage or WiFi, it’s perfect if you find it difficult to catch your
    favorite shows. By the way DISH is offering the Sling adapter for free, so why
    not?

  • http://blog.ringcentral.com/ small business blog

    I like the idea that they included the beats earphones at no extra cost. 
    This will be a phone for beats afficionados.