Video Editing by Gideon Dominick
The HTC Rhyme mixes the high-quality design expected from a company like HTC with a touch of feminine softness to create a handset that is both gorgeous to look at and a pleasure to use. Throw in a few accessories and you get a pretty complete package. But before we go too far, this isn’t the handset for everyone. HTC aimed Rhyme squarely at one group of users, and this may alienate some potential buyers. If purple is your color (it sure is mine) and you aren’t obsessed over specs like the number of cores in a processor, the Rhyme’s compact design could be for you.
The HTC Rhyme is by no means a powerhouse device. It features a 1GHz single-core CPU, though it is couple with an ample amount of RAM at 768MB. It’s 3.7-inch display gets a 480×800 resolution, it sports a 5MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash, and a VGA front-facing camera.
The first thing you will notice is the elegantly designed case. It features a soft touch finish with metal accents and stylish curves. The 1600 mAh battery is not removable, but the lower portion of the case gives way to provide access to a microSD card slot. A microUSB port is located under a flap on the left side of the device, while a volume rocker features on the right. The top of the phone carries a power/standby button and 3.5MM headset jack. Located near the 5MP camera capable of 720p video there is a set of three gold contacts. These are used for docking the Rhyme just by dropping it into the cradle. No need to make any USB connections for charging.
While the phone’s good looks are easily its biggest selling point, the hardware doesn’t slouch. With specs more inline with classic offering such as the HTC EVO and Droid Incredible, performance lags slightly behind the more recent big dogs. The HTC Rhyme is better labeled as an upper mid-range device. Still, there is no noticeable hardware lag and the phone is responsive and smooth with its software.
Call quality is more than adequate, as HTC has strategically placed noise-cancelling microphones throughout the device. Though its name suggest musical inclinations, the Rhyme launched without the support of recently acquired Beats Audio. Still, there are few complaints about the audio quality the device provides.
Speaking of software, HTC has once again updated their Sense UI for the Rhyme. The handset is among the first to feature Sense 3.5, and though much remains similar to previous incarnations, the changes made are noticeable.
Perhaps the biggest distinguishing factor is a revamped launcher. Each homescreen now features two static launcher buttons, one for the phone dialer and one for the applications tray. In the applications tray, apps are divided between frequently used, downloaded, and all apps. Dropping the notification bar also provides shortcuts to recently used apps as well as a quick setting menu for adjusting phone settings on the fly. The Sense browser has received a face-lift as well, but overall functions about the same as it did before.
New widgets abound, including a series of application widgets which expand to provide more information. These come as defaults on the main homescreen. Speaking of homescreens and widgets, one feature many will be happy to see included is the ability to easily rearrange, add, and delete homescreens. If you don’t need the default seven, drop it to five or four. You simply double-tap the Home softkey to access the quick view of all homescreens and long press to edit. You can also use this to quickly jump to any homescreen.
HTC has made some improvements to the camera in terms of both software and hardware. The shutter speed isn’t the fastest we have seen, but it is almost instantaneous. Combined with the camera quick launcher from the lock screen you can snap off a picture in a matter of seconds. It might not be quick enough to capture the most fleeting of moments, but it will more than do.
The camera software has plenty of features to toy around with, perhaps the most interesting being a series of effects that can be applied in real-time to photos. With an effect selected, you get a preview of just how the image will turn out. Effects also translate to the front-facing snapper.
Pictures, for the most part, were on the better side of what we have seen from smartphones lately. Still, the Rhyme did have some trouble capturing images in low-light situations. The auto-focus could have been better, but you can manually adjust focus by tapping the screen (for both still photos and video).
Video won’t blow anyone away, but the image is nice and clear, if a bit stuttery.
A major selling point of the HTC Rhyme are its included accessories. In the box come a desktop dock, notifications charm, and tangle-free headphones. The headphones are fairly average, but a nice extra. The other accessories are actually pretty neat.
The desktop dock is a very basic cradle that uses a set of gold contacts to charge the device. When in the dock a bedside-friendly screen is triggered with access to the calendar, music, and photos. If we had one complaint about the dock, it would center on removing the phone. Once the Rhyme is placed in the cradle it can be difficult to pop out without actually picking up the dock and tipping it a bit. Not a major problem, but a slight inconvenience.
What we really liked was the notifications charm. The concept is pretty darn cool. The small purple cube glows when your phone receives a call, message, or other notification (you can adjust the settings via the phone). The idea is a person could dangle the charm out of their bag and get a notification alert without having to dig out their phone. The cube is connected to a long purple cord, which connects to the Rhyme’s headset jack (which, if anything, might aid in fishing the phone out of a clutter purse). It isn’t without its downsides, though. It seemed to be a bit hit or miss with if it wanted to light up or not, and didn’t always catch all calls and messages (this could have been user error). It also would have been nice if the whole thing were wireless, connecting to your phone via Bluetooth or some other standard.
In conclusion, the Rhyme could be a great phone for a lot of people. It definitely gets its target audience, but its focus on woman will no-doubt turn many other buyers away. If you are looking for the latest and greatest hardware, you might be better off looking at a dual-core handset. If you want a combination of refined software in a well-designed and sturdy body, the Rhyme is a safe bet. If you don’t like purple, you will want to look elsewhere.