The HTC Rhyme is something of a delicate matter, as it's HTCs first phone that is said to have been designed with a female audience in mind, yet it comes in dull colours and look quite a lot like every other HTC handset we've seen so far. Sure, it's not black, but it's unlikely to set anyone's world on fire in terms of look and feel. So what makes this handset so special then? Well, we're not quite sure to be honest, but click on through for our first impression of HTC's latest handset.
The HTC Rhyme has a pair of unusual features, the first one is the charm indicator which is short is an LED at the end of a wire and the other being a “wireless” charger dock. Ok, so maybe we're being a bit blunt about it, but the charm indicator really is just that, a small LED in some plastic attached to a wire that connects to the headphone socket. The LED will then pulsate to let you know find your phone when lost in your handbag or flash when you have an incoming call. We should also point out that the charm indicator can't be plugged in at the same time as the headset.
The wireless charger doesn't rely on some fancy induction charger technology; instead it has a small row of connectors at the back of the phone which interface with the dock and thus charges the battery. HTC is also bundling a Bluetooth headset as well as a wired headset with flat cables (not by Beats Audio), a Bluetooth car speaker (quite an unusual accessory) and an arm pouch for the phone for when you take it with you on a jog. Sadly we didn't get a chance to play with the accessories and it's possible that the bundle will differ between markets.
The phone itself feels solid, but also quite heavy for its size at 130g, especially as it only has a 3.7-inch Super LCD screen, albeit with WVGA (800×480) resolution. We're not quite sure what HTC tried to do when they designed the Rhyme, but it only has a power button and a volume rocker and a dedicated camera button would've been a useful addition. The micro USB port is hidden behind a flap, although this flap is part of the rear cover and it's fiddly to open and close. Behind the rear cover you'll find the easily accessible SIM card and microSD card slots, but oddly enough, the battery is not removable.
A quick breakdown of the specs include a 1GHz single core Qualcomm processor, 768MB of RAM and 4GB of built in storage, although only about 1GB is available for the user. You do of course get features like 8021.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and GPS as well. The rear 5 Megapixel camera is meant to have a back side illuminated sensor and a 28mm F2.2 lens and although it's better than most phone cameras, it can't compete with higher-end phones in terms of quality. There's also a front mounted camera for video calls and the rear camera has an LED flash.
In use the HTC Rhyme feels snappy enough, although the HTC Sense 3.5 UI means that a lot of things have been moved around, so users of other HTC Android phones will have to re-familiarize themselves a bit. The most obvious change is that the little bar on the bottom is now gone in lieu of a pair of circles, one which access the apps and one for the phone menu. The personalize settings can be found inside the options menu. HTC has also come up with a new widget called Shortcuts and Clock and it adds five shortcuts on the left hand side of the screen, all of which can be customized, alongside a clock and current weather conditions.
HTC has also thrown in FriendStream, its Locations app, HTC Deals, HTC Listen, Facebook, Twitter and a few other more or less useful apps as standard. The supplied desktop wallpapers are also quite nice, but some logic is missing in terms of how some of the HTC specific apps and settings work. We also didn't notice any female specific apps, although we're not quite sure what these would be in the first place.
The time we spent using the Rhyme didn't convince us that there was anything specific about the handset that would make it appeal to a female audience, instead it's just another Smartphone from HTC that doesn't really stand out from the crowd. The Rhyme is by no means a bad phone, but if you get it on a two year contract today, by the time that contract is up, it's going to have close to a budget category handset. Price wise the Rhyme will retail in the US for $199 (S$250) on contract, although we've also seen mentions of European pricing without a contract at €479 (S$827) which is simply just too much for this handset, despite the accessory bundle. As such we can only conclude that the Rhyme feels like it offers too little, is too unfocused and is arriving too late to make any kind of impact.