The HTC Rhyme is something of a departure from the rest of the herd -- a smartphone designed for women. Underneath the girly plum exterior, you'll find Android OS 2.3.4 running on a 1GHz processor, a 3.7-inch touchscreen display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 5 megapixel camera on the back plus a VGA camera on the front for videoconferencing.
The HTC Rhyme is available exclusively from Verizon Wireless for $200 with a new two-year service contract. That price goes up to $440 if yu don't qualify for a subsidy.
BUILD & DESIGN:
The most refreshing thing about the Rhyme is its size -- after handling all of the recent smartphone giants, it's nice to hold something that really fits in my palm instead of forcing me to deal with a monster. It measures 4.7-inches tall, 2.4-inches wide, and 0.4-inches thick and weighs less than five ounces. It fits easily into any pocket and doesn't weigh me down, which is a nice change of pace. Based on size alone, it will be hard to go back to those large-screen monster phones after using the Rhyme full time for a couple of weeks.
It's also very cool looking, as much as I hate to admit it. When I first pulled open the box (with a pull-out drawer that more closely resembled the fancy packaging of a holiday makeup kit than a mobile phone box), I just fell in love with the cool purple exterior of the Rhyme. It's sleek and modern with low-profile buttons. The back is made of very slightly textured rubberized material that is easy to grip, and there's also a wide metallic band with the HTC logo just below the camera lens.
The display is a 3.7-inch super LCD screen running at 480 x 800 resolution. It's nice, but it isn't going to blow you away like the gigantic Super AMOLED Plus displays on bleeding edge smartphones. Colors come across a little muted, and if you look closely you can see some jaggy edges on text. It's nothing horrible, not by any stretch of the imagination, but there are better displays on other current smartphones if that's your most important consideration.
There's no physical keyboard here, so you'll be typing on a virtual onscreen one. This is one bad thing about the relatively petite size of this phone; smaller display means smaller virtual keys. Then again, the female consumers that this phone is aimed at do tend to have smaller hands, so it may not be that big of a deal.
HTC did do a good job with the keyboard, as there is less space between the virtual keys so that the keys themselves can be as large as possible. I was a little slower using this keyboard during my texting trial than normal, but it's not too bad.
Other Buttons & Controls
You'll find the headphone jack and the large, easy-to-activate power button on the top of the device. The long, single-piece volume buttom is on the upper right side. You may have a hard time finding the charge/sync port, as it's on the lower left side, covered by a small flap.
The HTC Rhyme comes with a charging cradle/speaker dock, which is a nice bonus and something you'll definitely want to use. Much as I hate to mention the cliche notion of breaking a fingernail in a review of a phone aimed at women, it actually applies here. The flap covering the charging port is extremely difficult to open, and I did split a nail when I tried to plug it in.
With the cradle, you don't have to connect or plug in a cable because the charging pins in the cradle line up perfectly with a matching receiver built into the back of the phone. It holds the phone at an angle, though I would have preferred a slightly steeper angle to make the phone easier to use as a desk clock while it's charging. It's so convenient that you might even want to take it with you when you travel -- it's certainly better than breaking a nail every time you try to plug in your phone to charge it.
You also get a few other extras -- a purse dangle that lights up when you receive a call and a set of ear bud headphones with a flat cord that isn't supposed to tangle up. Everything's color-coordinated, of course, and I found the purse dangle to be fairly useful. It plugs into the Rhyme and clips securely to your bag so that when the phone starts ringing, you don't have to rummage around to find it in the bottom of a bottomless purse. It keeps blinking even if you miss the call, reminding you to check your phone.
The headphones are really nice too, with good sound quality and a good fit -- they don't tend to fall out. Two extra sets of rubber ear tips are included, and there's also a volume control integrated into the cord for convenience. The flat cord doesn't tangle, though it does mean a larger overall package when you're rolling up the headphones for storage.
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