After being spellbound by the giant displays found on flagship devices like the Galaxy S II, the smaller HTC Rhyme feels a little crowded at first. It’s obvious that the designers at HTC thought about this issue, since the homescreen is greatly simplified. Instead of a mass of app icons, you’ll find that everything has been pared down to the minimum — Mail, Messages, Calendar, and Camera, plus a small clock/weather widget. There’s also color-coordinated wallpaper to make everything look polished and put together.
What does the Rhyme have under the hood? It runs Android OS 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) on a 1 GHz processor. According to the Quadrant benchmark test, the Rhyme scores 1462, which puts it just slightly better than all of the reference phones including the Nexus One. That isn’t stellar performance, but it’s pretty good.
According to the Speed Test app, I was able to acheive download speeds of 2.496 to 2.543 Mbps, upload speeds of 468 to 479 kbps and a ping of 38 to 50 milliseconds. While I had to wait for a few really complicated web pages to load, the delays weren’t too bad at all. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work exactly as expected.
I was very disappointed with the call quality on the Rhyme. I could hear and be heard, but voices are somewhat clipped and just don’t sound right. One of my callers said that it sounded like I had a cold, and another said that it was just awful. Considering the fact that women really do talk more than men, you’d think that a phone aimed at women would have excellent voice quality to go along with the cool purple exterior and tangle-free headphones.
The social networking experience is very good thanks to HTC’s proprietary Friend Stream app, which combines all of your Facebook and Twitter activity into one streamlined experience. All of my friends’ updates appear quickly, and it’s easy to scroll through and see what’s happening with everyone all at once.
Of course a smartphone aimed at soccer moms and other busy women on the go has to be capable of organizing everything, and the Rhyme succeeds on that front. It handles multiple Google calendars with ease, and of course contacts are always kept up-to-date as well, thanks to all of that Android goodness behind the scenes.
You’ll also find the expected calculator app, plus a task manager. Polaris Office handles Microsoft Office documents of all kinds, and is pleasantly easy to use. Navigational duties are performed by either Google Maps or VZ Navigator, and both performed well in my testing. No matter where I found myself, my location was quickly pinpointed on the map and I was able to get directions in a flash.
The standard Android Music app is included, but you won’t find any games or game demos pre-loaded on this device. That’s not surprising, considering the intended demographic, but even busy women on the go like to play games now and then. The only included entertainment app is the Amazon Kindle eBook app, but of course there are plenty of free and paid apps available in the Android Market.
The Rhyme has a 5 megapixel camera, which is a definte step back from the more typical 8 megapixel cameras on competing phones. I found the Rhyme to take good photos but not exceptional ones. It’s fine for everyday use, but if you’re attending a special event, I wouldn’t rely on the Rhyme to be good enough to capture it; I would want to bring along a separate camera to chronicle everything.
I was pleasantly surprised by the very good battery life, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. The smaller display and slower processor just aren’t going to eat up the juice like other phones, and I was easily able to get through a full week before having to charge the phone. It’s refreshing to find a device that finally lives up to the quoted battery life specs.