Hands-On: HTC Rhyme
The Rhyme is a new Android smartphone for Verizon Wireless that targets the more sensitive user. Will its "charms" work on the intended consumer?
HTC and Verizon Wireless introduced the Rhyme today, a new handset that HTC and Verizon say was designed with the end user firmly in mind. Yes, some may be calling it a girlie phone, but that's not quite accurate.
OK, the phone *does* come in a lavender shade, though global variants will be available in other colors (silver and dark gray). HTC spent a lot of time today talking about how it wanted the design to be clean, feel good, and look good. Honestly, it looks like any other HTC Android smartphone. That means the quality of the materials is good, the craftsmanship is there, and it feels great in the hand.
The four capacitive buttons below the screen worked well, the volume toggle on the right was easy to find and use, and the power/lock key worked as it should. Those who are inclined to listen to their music will be happy to see the 3.5mm headset jack.
Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.
Interestingly, the Rhyme will be packaged with not one, but three accessories: the dock, tangle-free headphones, and the charm.
The dock is a simple piece of plastic that cradles the Rhyme snugly. When snapped in, it charges the phone wirelessly via magnetic conduction and puts the Rhyme into a bedside mode. In bedside mode, the phone focuses on the clock and several other key features, such as the alarm, music application, and notifications. The dock also has built-in speakers.
The headphones are a nice toss-in, but the quick listen I gave them proved they are not of the highest quality.
Perhaps most interesting is the charm. The charm plugs into the phone and notifies you when there is an incoming call, message, email, or other alert by pulsing with light. HTC thinks it will be better than alert tones, or ringers, or even vibrate alerts to let you know that there is someone trying to reach you. This lets the user keep the phone tucked away, but still able to manage alerts.
The user interface is the latest from HTC, called Sense 3.5. While it isn't a significant leap forward, there are some noticeable changes when compared to the current version of Sense.
For example, the lock screen features a new look and makes it easier to access vital features such as the camera, messaging, and email apps without first unlocking the phone. Each of these little unlock buttons is dynamic, meaning it changes as messages/calls arrive and will display unread message counts and so on.
Beyond this lock screen, it doesn't look all that different once you hit the main home screens and menus.
I found that the Rhyme was speedy, and performed well. There were no offensive slow-downs or other bottlenecks while using the units on hand today in New York. I can't say that it will appeal to guys, but on the surface, the Rhyme has its own sense of style and will certainly appeal to a niche set of customers.
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