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HTC Rhyme Review

By Simon Thomas on 13th December 2011


3G Total Score

Pros: Nice design; unique accessories are standout features; one for the girls?


Cons: Mediocre snapper; disappointing call quality; expensive for what it does

 

Verdict: The HTC Rhyme is unique, nicely designed handset but it’s pricey for what it is, unless you can dig out a good contract offer

Full Review and Specification for the HTC Rhyme

Now, according to HTC, the Rhyme is not targeted at a female audience – but take a look at it. It comes in fetching hues of dark pink and purple, has matching accessories and there is a ‘charm’ indicator, which you attach to your bag – this glows a soft pink to let you know you have messages and incoming calls. Sound very blokey to you? No, us neither. But anyway. Let’s move on…

 

Hallo girls…

 

The good news is that while the HTC Rhyme may be targeted at those of a female persuasion, it doesn't miss out on any of the technical benefits from the Taiwanese handset manufacturer. It has kept to its tried-and-tested design, rather than veering off into some ‘girlie’ fantasy, producing a phone that has a flat front, softly curved sides and rounded corners. This means it not only looks good, but also feels really good to hold – something the iPhone 4S could learn from…

 

Mind you, HTC describes the Rhyme as having a ‘unibody’ design – yet it is clear that the bezel and 3.7in display are actually separate from the rest of the metallic front, while the reverse side of the chassis is divided into three. One of these (which is incredibly flimsy) slides off to allow access to the battery – which can’t be removed – as well as the sim card and micro SD slots

 

Put your finer on it

 

Another issue with the Rhyme’s body is that it is lacking an oleo-phobic layer – this is what stops the handset collecting all those sticky paw-prints. Unfortunately, this is not just an aesthetic issue – it actually stops you being able to see the display, in direct light and outside, and we found we were forever wiping away at it to get rid of them. It’s a pity too, because the screen is of the S-LCD variety with a resolution of 480x800 pixels. It boasts vivid colours and has a huge viewing angle, even if it is not quite the showstopping AMOLED screen found on more expensive phones.

 

Get going

 

Happily, there is more to the Rhyme than its good looks. It sits firmly in the middle of the mobile phone market, with a single-core 1GHz chip beneath the bonnet, along with a decent 768MB of RAM and on-board storage of 1GB. This can be upped to as much as 32GB thanks to the microSD card.

 

There is also 720p HD video recording on offer, along with a five-megapixel snapper that offers LED flash and auto focus, while a VGA front-facing camera is available for taking self-portraits. You can also wirelessly stream media to any DLNA-compatible consoles, TVs and DVD/Blu-ray players.

 

GPS, a digital compass and a gyroscope are onboard, and connectivity is pretty good – there’s HSPA-capable 3G and 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0. A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, FTP/OPP for transferring files and PBAP to access the phonebook from car kits – plenty enough to be going along with.

 

Another great feature is the excellent Android skin from HTC, entitled Sense. This is version 3.5, and it offers a nice design combined with a good bit of user friendliness. We particularly like the notification shortcuts, which let you get to settings and features quickly. However, it’s not all sweetness and light. While the default homescreen is simple in its design, you can’t add shortcuts and it does waste a lot of space. Also, Sense has a superfluous spinning effect, which switches between all the homescreens in an automatic loop.

 

Despite this, the US and Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread work harmoniously together, providing a responsive and smooth user experience. It can be a tad sluggish to work through complicated and Flash-heavy websites, but it’s a pretty good performance for a mid-range handset. By the way, if you’re thinking you might be able to upgrade to Android Ice Cream Sandwich, don’t bank on it – HTC left it out of the upgrade cycle, so if it happens it will be some months away.

 

Call me

 

What we often forget about, when talking about mobiles is that they should be phones first and foremost – and the Rhyme does not perform this task well. We found the call quality disappointing – our recipients’ voices sounded flat and monotone even when we had a really strong signal.

 

But on the plus side, battery life is excellent, it’s an area where Android phones often disappoint, but we got a good day out of the Rhyme, even with heavy use, so this is a real bonus if you find yourself getting nervous about being out with your current Android phone and not near a charging socket.

 

So far, so ordinary, but here we get to the Rhyme’s USP –its accessories. The most unusual is the Charm, which alerts the user to the fact that they have an incoming message or call. It sounds like a great idea – the Charm is connected via the 3.5mm audio jack and then attached to a bag (HTC would have us believe that it could be attached to a man’s bag or briefcase, but we still beg to differ). The glowing alert lets you know someone is trying to contact you – but in practice we found it was hard to see unless you were in a low light area. Could be handy in a dark club or pub we imagine, where you might not hear your phone or notice it vibrating.

 

Also on the accessory list is the charge dock. The phone sits in it in the landscape position and the dock acts as a loudspeaker. It’s a nifty idea, but again it isn’t executed well – sound quality is on a par with a cheap bedside radio and you have to plug it in to get it work. Nor does it charge using MicroUSB. Instead there are three charge points on the reverse of the handset, so you can’t use it with any other phone.

 

A final word (of warning) goes to the bundled earphones, which offer disappointing sound quality, with little treble or bass. They have flat cables to avoid them getting tied up in knots, but the buds are badly designed and we found they fell out all the time.

 

Snap unhappy

 

Earlier on in this review we mentioned the snapper – and its five megapixels. Now, you may have been impressed with this, but unfortunately it just doesn’t live up to it. We found our images were pixelated in all but the most perfect of lighting conditions, and taking pictures in low light was nigh on impossible. Video recording was no better – there was a lot of stutter. Don’t expect to enjoy your movies on a big screen, although if you just want to pop them on Facebook they’ll do.

 

While there are some bad points to the Rhyme, for a mid-range handset it’s not bad. However, the sticking point is its £345 price tag, which puts it almost on a par with a number of flagship phones and certainly on the same level as some older handsets such as the Motorola Matrix and LG Optimus 2x. Unfortunately, these handsets offer a far better experience, and while the Rhyme has some nifty add-ons, they just don’t work well in practice. If you can find a good contact deal it may be worth a punt, but otherwise it is just too dear for the performance it offers.

 

Our conclusion

 

We really wanted to love the Rhyme. Even though HTC doesn’t want to admit that it has targeted women, we liked the way they had done so! It has a good design and excellent battery life. The phone is reasonably fast in use, the Sense 3.5 is a great UI and there is plenty on offer. And we loved the idea of the accessories – they are just not well implemented. Add to that the disappointing snapper, poor call quality and unrealistic price and the Rhyme just doesn’t offer a good deal.

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HTC Rhyme Review Scoring

  • Style and Handling
  • User Friendliness
  • Feature set
  • Performance
  • Battery
  • Overall Score

HTC Rhyme Phone Specification

Type of phone:

Smartphone

Style:

candy bar

Size:

119x60.8x10.9mm

Weight:

130g

Display:

262,000 colours

Resolution:

480x800

Camera:

5 megapixels

Special Camera features:

LED flash, auto focus

Video recording:

Yes

Video playback:

Yes

Video calling:

Yes

Video streaming:

Yes

Music formats played:

MP3, eAAC+, WAV

3.5mm jack port:

Yes

Handsfree speakerphone:

Yes

Voice Control:

Yes

Voice Dialling:

Yes

Call records:

Practically unlimited

Phonebook:

Practically unlimited

Ringtones customization:

Yes

Display description:

S-LCD capacitive touch-screen

Website:

www.htc.com

SAR:

N/A

Portfolio:

White, purple, khaki

Standard color:

N/A

Launch Status:

Available

Ringtones:

MP3

Radio:

Yes

Operating system:

Android

Connectivity:

MicroUSB, Wi-Fi, A2DP, Bluetooth

Announced date:

September 2011

What's in the Box:

Phone, speaker dock, alerts charm, headphones

RAM:

768MB

International launch date:

October 2011

Battery life when playing multimedia:

N/A

CPU:

1GHz

FM Radio Description:

Stereo FM radio with RDS

Internal memory:

4GB

Memory Card Slot:

microSD

Messaging:

SMS, MMS, IM, Email

Internet Browser:

HTML

E-mail client:

Push email, IMAP4, SMTP, Attachments, POP3

GPS:

A-GPS

Java:

Yes

Games:

Yes

Data speed:

GPRS, 3G, EDGE, HSDPA

Frequency:

Quad-band

Talktime:

480 minutes

Standby:

340 hours

Display size:

3.7 inches

Keypad:

N/A

Audio recording:

Yes


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