HTC Rhyme. Has it got the Rhythm?

I am a fan of big screen phones. There I admit it, so why I may here you ask do I have HTC‘s latest offering in the Rhyme sitting in front of me for review. Well the reason couldn’t be simpler, if you are a regular reader of Coolsmartphone you will know that I recently attended an event hosted by HTC and O2 in Edinburgh. Well they gave me a phone to review so here we are. Before I start though I would like to say again that this is a great idea and one would really like to see evolve and move forward with other companies as I feel it is a great way for them to find out what the end user is thinking about there phones.

Specifications

GENERAL

2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100 Announced 2011, September Status Available. Released 2011, October

BODY

Dimensions 119 x 60.8 x 10.9 mm Weight 130 g DISPLAY Type S-LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors Size 480 x 800 pixels, 3.7 inches (~252 ppi pixel density) MultitouchYes – HTC Sense UI 3.5

SOUND

Alert types Vibration, MP3, WAV ringtones Loudspeaker Yes 3.5mm jack Yes

MEMORY

Card slot microSD, up to 32GB, 8GB card included Internal 4 GB storage, 768 MB RAM

DATA-

GPRS Yes EDGE Yes Speed HSDPA, 14.4 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA Bluetooth Yes, v3.0 with A2DP, EDR USB Yes, microUSB v2.0

CAMERA

Primary 5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash Features Geo-tagging Video Yes, 720p Secondary Yes, VGA

FEATURES OS Android OS, v2.3.4 (Gingerbread) Chipset Qualcomm MSM8255 CPU 1 GHz Scorpion GPU Adreno 205 Sensors Accelerometer, proximity, compass Messaging SMS(threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email, IM Browser HTML, Adobe Flash Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS GPS Yes, with A-GPS support Java Yes, via Java MIDP emulator Colors Plum – Light-up Charm Indicator accessory – Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic – SNS integration – Google Search, Maps, Gmail – YouTube, Google Talk, Picasa integration – MP3/AAC+/WAV player – MP4/H.263/H.264 player – Organizer – Document viewer – Voice memo/dial – Predictive text input

BATTERY

Standard battery, Li-Ion 1600 mAh Stand-by Up to 295 h (2G) / Up to 340 h (3G) Talk time Up to 10 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 8 h (3G)

Hardware

Lets get this dealt with quickly the phone is not your usual colour it comes I’m a lovely shade of purple which HTC call Plum not my first choice for a colour of phone but it was free and beggars can’t be choosers. The phone is very similar to what has gone before with HTC with the screen dominating the front and having its four Android keys embedded into the layer of glass making them melt away when not needed. I quite liked the placement of these keys and they’re also responsive enough as well. On theses we have the volume control on one and then a flap covering the micro USB charger/sync port on the other on the top we have a 3.5mm headset jack and the power sleep/wake key lastly there is a pinhole mic up here for noise cancellation. At the bottom it is fairly clear apart from the primary microphone. On the rear you have the lens for the 5mp camera which is the new improved version and also some other holes the reason for which I am not sure. Lastly we have what I believe are called pogo pins, these are here to facilitate the connection with the dock accessory.

The dock comes free in the box and is both for charging and also playing music. It works really well and when the phone os docked it will become a really useful bed side clock and I have been using it as such. When playing music it seems to establish a local Bluetooth pairing with the dock to do so which is quite cool however it seems that when you remove it too use you have to turn off the Bluetooth yourself which is a shame and a nuisance. Other accessories include the headphones a white leather pouch and also a charm. The purpose of the charm is too allow the user to have the phone buried away in a handbag and still be able to see if she is getting a call or a text. Its a nice idea but not sure how usefully it would actually be in the real world.

Software

Like all HTC devices that have come before the Ryhme is equipped with Android that has been re-skinned, in this case it is Android 2.3.5 and HTC Sense 3.5. This give android some visual flair that would otherwise not have been present in stock Gingerbread but in my opinion does not really add much to the functionality of the device. There are some nice features that have been added and one of these is the new sense front end widget. This widget allows you to have the clock and a couple of shortcuts on the home screen. The difference with this version to older sense versions os that the shortcuts are multifunctional. I have tried to display this in the attached video below.

In addition to all the features that Sense brings there are some other bits of Software that are sprinkled on the phone such as Polaris Office suite, which will allow full editing and creation of documents, presentations and spreadsheets on the go. Endomondo is also there for fitness fans. Even thought this is not a Facebook branded handset Facebook chat is also present for those who want to use it. One other addition that is notable and technically part of Sense is the inclusion of HTC Watch which is HTC’s movie rental service. It does have some fairly good content and also in in line with the prices that are currently available on its competitors Samsung Movies, and iTunes. The phone feels fluid and never really bogged down too much under load like I have found with some other HTC devices in the past so they are clearly doing something right here. The new options available to the user look good and use the screen to the best of its potential.

Camera

This is one the first phones in HTC’s line up that has included their enhanced Camera this gives the lens a higher focal length and as a result it allows the phone to capture better pictures. I am by no means an expert when it comes to cameras but I have tried to show the quality in the pictures that I have taken below.

Video is captured in 720p and is acceptable for a phone but it is not going to replace a dedicated setup either on your digital camera or camcorder. Unfortunately there is some evidence of artifacts in the videos as you can see below and this is common with lower end phones.

Intended users

This phone has been clearly designed with one audience in mind and that is a shame, because due to some of the decision that have been made in that process it is going to alienate a massive potential user base. This phone is one for the ladies and that is clear from the get go by the colour of the box. I think HTC have missed a trick here as if they were to do a version of the phone in white in the UK they would have doubled their potential market base. I know that I would have loved to have the capability to dock my phone at night for and still not be laughed at when using my handset but with the choice of colour used that is not going to happen. However for the ladies out there who want something both cute and smart then this is a winner and you would struggle to find  another smartphone on the market that is not either black or white (Samsung have recently discovered this and have subsequently released a pink GS2). The phone has already been claimed for use by my wife to replace her ailing Samsung and this is fine by me as I therefore do not risk being hurled abuse for having a “girls phone”.

Summary

Firstly I would like to say well done to HTC for realising there is a gap in the market for  a phone designed with women in mind. Also they deserve credit for including the premium accessories in the box. This is something that they are actually doing more of with the introduction of the beats branded phones. However this master stroke will potentially prove to be a double edged sword as it has limited sales to half the market and also there is no demand for accessories to be made as they are all included. I think the charm is a bit of a gimmick and I cannot expect to see it being used again.