Geared specifically toward the ladies, the HTC Rhyme tries to stand out in a crowded arena of Android competition. With it’s mediocre specs, plum color, and assortment of accessories, this device is trying really hard to offer something unique. Being the sensitive dude that I am, I used HTC for almost a month to see if it would fit the needs of not just it’s target audience, but even a tech geek like myself. Hit the details on this Guru Inspection to find out!
In today’s world of 4.3” and 4.5” phones being the norm, the HTC Rhyme seems rather small with it’s 3.7” 480 x 800 screen. Measuring 119 x 60 x 10.85mm and weighing in at 4.58 ounces, the Rhyme feels great in the hand. The edges are rounded and the back is coated with soft touch plastic giving the device a very “friendly” feel. The frame of the phone is made of aluminium that wraps around to the back as well. It’s not quite “unibody”, but it feels very solid. The back is also home to a 5mp camera, flash, and charging contacts for the Rhyme’s custom desktop dock. The traditional charging port is on the bottom left covered by a plastic “flap”, which I hate since I have no nails, and the volume rocker is on the top right of the device. The top contains the power button on the right and headset jack on the left. The look is very clean and minimalist. It’s a good looking phone. Even in “plum”.
The Rhyme also comes with a “charm” that plugs into the headset port of the device. It’s a long cord with a plastic square on the end that lights up when you have a missed call or text. The idea is that this charm dangles outside of your purse (or man bag), so you can easily see when you have a new message or missed call. This is one of many specialized accessories that are offered with the Rhyme. There is also a desktop dock that has a built in bluetooth speaker so you can stream your device’s audio to it. Dropping the Rhyme in the dock also activates a pretty snazzy desktop mode that includes a clock, weather forecast, music player and photo slide show.
The 5mp camera takes decent shots in optimum lighting conditions, but suffers greatly when not in bright light. You could of course turn the flash on, but it washes images out and gives them a yellow hue. Since the Rhyme is running Sense 3.5, you get a ton of photo effects settings. Tapping the effects button on the top left brings up settings like vignette, dots, grayscale, vintage and way more. There are also a bunch of scenes to choose from like portrait, landscape, action, panorama, HDR, low light, whiteboard, and close up. On top of all of that, you have settings for ISO, white balance, auto focus, auto enhance, and more. I can appreciate all the options and settings, but I just want to pull the phone and shoot. I don’t want to have to mess with settings and tweak the image to get a good photo.
The Rhyme also captures video in 720p HD resolution. The videos look pretty good, but they suffer form the same low light issue that still shots do. It’s as if the sensor just doesn’t let enough light in. The audio recording is good as long as there aren’t multiple sound sources or anything too loud. The sound gets washed out pretty easily if your in a loud environment like a concert or party.
Running Android 2.3.4 and HTC’s Sense UI version 3.5 the Rhyme has a very “been there, done that feel”. Sense UI seems to get bigger and heavier with each new version, no longer adding things that Android lacks, but seemly adding things just to add them. Not all additions are bad however. The lock screen is a large improvement over the traditional Android lock screen, allowing you jump into shortcuts quickly. The notification window has a tab for quickly accessing settings like WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It’s a nice touch, as it’s much faster to swipe down the window shade than rummaging through the settings menu.
HTC Sense is known for it’s huge selection of eye catching widgets and the Rhyme doesn’t disappoint including 70+ widgets. The calendar widgets are as useful as they are beautiful. The weather widgets are sized small to large and provide great at a glance information. Then there are newer additions like the “Quick Launch” widget, which takes up an entire home panel. The widget gives you customizable shortcuts to apps and a clock with your weather forecast. The Quick Widget doesn’t seem that useful, especially considering HTC already provides multiple weather and clock widgets.
My other growing issue with Sense UI is that you are forced to use HTC’s mail app if you want to use their mail widgets. One of the advantages of Android is it’s awesome Gmail app, but Sense forces you to use HTC’s mail app if you want tight integration within the widgets. It feels disconnected to the rest of the Android experience, not to mention the HTC mail app lacks many of the features that Gmail provides.
Then we have the issue of updates. The Rhyme was released with Android 2.3.4, right around the same time Google released Android 4.0. HTC issued a statement with the devices they plan to update first and the Rhyme was absent from that list. I understand that this device is not aimed at the geek elite, but I feel like it should be noted.
Battery and Performance
Today more Gs are more better right? If you’re living on the bleeding edge than you won’t settle for anything less than a 4G device, especially on Verizon. The Rhyme however, was launched with 3G only. Obviously HTC and Verizon are not marketing this device to the tech geeks that count Gs and processors. With download speeds ranging from 600kps-900kbs and upload speeds from 400kps-700kps the Rhyme is no speed demon, but it was very consistent.
Being a 3G only device and powered by a 1600 mAh battery the Rhyme has great battery life. I could easily go 10-12 hours with moderate to heavy use. You won’t be winning any download races, but think of the Rhyme as the turtle from the Tortoise and the Hare.
I was worried that with Sense 3.5 and being powered by a single core 1 GHz processor, that the Rhyme would be a bit of a dog. I have actually been pleasantly surprised by the performance. Swiping through home screens is super smooth and I have seen very little lag overall. The only time where I noticed some slow down, is when unlocking the device. This is probably due to the way Sense UI “spins” the home screens into view when you unlock the phone. Overall, the performance of the Rhyme is solid. It’s not a spec’d out power house, but it delivers where it matters most.
Conclusion and Final Score
The HTC Rhyme is a pretty forgettable device save for the plum color and some cool accessories. It gets lost in a sea of device not only from Verizon, but from HTC themselves. What differentiates this phone from the Droid Incredible 2? Not much if anything. But hey the Rhyme isn’t geared towards me. It’s geared towards busy ladies. Well, at least that’s how HTC and Verizon are marketing it. In all honesty, I like this phone a bit more than the Droid Incredible 2, but would quickly overlook it thanks to it’s plum body. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. What I do know is, if you make a great product, you don’t have to market it to specific genders. If you make a mediocre product, have to do something to make it stand out.No url attribute defined!