Some of us just hate settling for that dowdy-looking budget handset while on the other hand we can never seem to save up enough for the likes of a Samsung Galaxy S II or an Apple iPhone 4. It comes as a relief then that the likes of HTC Corp. seem to be launching a smartphone in the market every time I blink my eye. One among the recent handsets that hit store shelves was the HTC Rhyme. While it's not exactly a high-end pumped-up smartphone it still looks good enough for me to give it a try.
A look around
The 3.7-inch display on the Rhyme is your standard “super LCD” screen. It's not something brilliant that stuns you every time you gaze at it and neither is it dull or patchy. The screen has a native WVGA resolution, one optimal for web browsing on a mobile device.
The virtual keypad on the HTC Rhyme is highly accurate. While I typed away furiously, the keyboard seemed to register every word correctly almost all the time with a reassuring haptic feedback.
Pinching inwards on the screen presents a collage of all seven homescreens that I could then customise on the HTC Rhyme. A long press would throw up a bunch of options for me with which I could revamp my current homescreen. HTC also packs in a pair of headphones but our test unit did not have a pair shipped along.
The in-call audio on the handset was pretty clear. When I switched to the speaker mode, it got slightly shrill with the volume pumped up to the max.
HTC maintains a strong build quality with the Rhyme. The handset, although quite light at just 130 grams, feels like it can take a fall. I wasn't tempted to test it, lest it mar the soft plastic back panel. The pull-out panel that houses the non-removable battery and the SIM and microSD card slot is only one of the three-tone covers adorning the posterior of the device.
The topmost of the three compartments houses a 5-meg camera and an LED flash. The camera was fun to use with a host of ‘Effects' to choose right on the live view screen. When you want to focus on a subject and blur the background, pixelate your image or add a vignette, you can access these modes at the touch of a button. The 5-megger is one of the better ones I've tried out. The camera also records video in 720p. You can even tweak it to shoot in a lower-res format. The device also has a front-facing camera for those weekend Skype sessions.
A 1GHz processor keeps the HTC Rhyme beating. While it's still not a dual-core phone, which seem to be ruling the roost now, the Rhyme rarely gave us reason to complain. The only time it felt like the Rhyme was slowing down was when I had more than a handful of apps up and running in the background.
The handset runs the most upgraded version of Android Gingerbread (2.3.5 version) and it makes for a really nice operating system, more so, when coupled with HTC Sense (Ver 3.5), again the latest version of HTC's proprietary user interface. One of the first handsets to ship with this version, the UI on the Rhyme is a fairly intuitive one. The animations are subtle, settings easy to access and the ease of use scores high on my rating chart.
The user interface is designed to be intuitive and does the job well. For example, when I set an alarm for 6:00AM the next morning, the phone automatically switched to ‘Night Mode' and turned down the alerts so I didn't have to worry about those annoying beeps when my nocturnal friends catch the SMS-bug.
The Rhyme ships with a cute little accessory called the HTC Charm. It's a small white cube with a 3.5mm jack on one end of the cord. I plugged it into the phone and every time I received a call or an SMS, the Charm glowed, letting me know that someone was trying to get in touch. Quite useful, if you tend to spend at least three minutes trying to locate your phone in the labyrinths of your handbag each time you get an alert. Keep in mind this is mostly a cosmetic addition.
Unlike a lot of other smartphones in the market, the HTC Rhyme kept me company for more than just a working day, without the need for a charge. I'd downloaded and used a couple of games and productivity apps, attended to about 10-15 voice calls and took a couple of snapshots in this duration. I ran the Quadrant Standard benchmarking test and it pegged the HTC Rhyme higher up than the Nexus One, with a tally of 1711 points.
Wrap it up
The HTC Rhyme is all that you expect from a upper mid-range HTC handset. Those who are already used to big screens and pure power might find it inconvenient to downgrade to a 3.7-incher running on 1GHz. However, this would be a decent handset to have, notwithstanding its minor lags during usage and slightly undeserving price tag.
Love: Pleasant design, great battery life, intuitive UI
Hate: Average screen, single-core CPU
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Keywords: HTC Rhyme