Sometimes it feels like HTC is determined to create an individual Android handset for just about everyone on the planet, such is the rate with which they’ve been churning them out of late. There seems to be one for almost every conceivable taste and budget, and here they are again with something new.
The HTC Rhyme’s emphasis on style has led some to conclude that this is a phone aimed at women (does that mean the others are all aimed at men?) but this is a handset that has more to offer than just a nice look and a bagful of accessories.
Design and build
The Rhyme will stand out in a line-up of most mobiles thanks to its rich plum colouring, and there’s no doubt that it’s a pretty head-turner of a handset. The aluminium unibody design also adds to the impression of class while the warm, tactile rubberised plastic on the back feels comfortable to the touch.
On the sides are a supermodel-slim volume rocker and microUSB port hidden behind a discreet plastic cover while on top are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a power/sleep button. On the back are three little metal dots, which are used to charge the phone while it’s in its dock. It measures a good-sized 119x61x11mm and if it’s a little on the heavy side at 130g, it’s nothing to get too worked up about.
The HTC Rhyme comes in an outsize box which contains more than the usual crop of accessories. Chief among them is a dock that displays the phone at an angle that’s ideal for watching films, selecting music or browsing. It’s made of sturdy rubber and encased in black fabric, making it a neat addition to any desk or bedside table. It has a speaker inside too and you can either run it off the phone’s battery or via the mains.
There’s also a highly stylised pair of headphones, with flattened cables and unique looking earbuds, all matched to the phone’s plum-ish hue, plus a glowing dongle that lights up when you get a call, and a leather carrying pouch. It’s a nice little package, and one that would make a good all-in-one present.
The 3.7in screen is a good size without the handset having to get too big to accommodate it (it takes up almost all of the front) and with a resolution of 800x480 pixels it’s pretty sharp too – noticeably sharper than the HTC Titan, which features the same resolution spread over a considerably bigger 4.7in screen.
Interface and OS
It’s running the 2.3.5 Gingerbread version of the Android OS, that’s the one immediately before the very latest 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. So it has most of Android’s latest and greatest features and updates, without the new look of ICS which we’re going to be seeing a lot more of in 2012 – at least until the upgrade comes through, but don’t hold your breath for that.
It does however have the very latest 3.5 version of HTC’s rather lovely Sense UI, which has some very nice 3D graphic effects and a new arrangement for your most essential shortcuts in a row down the side of one of the seven home pages.
The 1GHz processor is backed up by a generous 768MB of RAM and it keeps things moving along nicely, despite the demands of the busy UI.
The 5 megapixel camera manages to pack in a good range of settings, including auto enhance and face detection as well as an edit suite for touching up your pics after you’ve taken them. It also benefits from autofocus and an LED flash though as with most HTC cameras, it struggles in low light conditions. It can record video at up to 720p HD though, and there’s also a VGA quality camera on the front for video calls.
Apps and browser
The Android browser is slick and efficient as ever, and renders pages well, flowing text neatly when you pinch to zoom.
As well as the many juicy enhancements available from the Android Market, HTC has a few of its own, including the FriendStream widget, which pulls all of your social networking and messaging updates together in a single scrollable stream, and a very efficient Outlook-compatible calendar.
Media and connectivity
The Android music player is fine and dandy, but it really is a shame about those headphones. Style is one thing, but practicality really is essential, and the earbud’s distinctive shape isn’t particularly well suited to the average human ear, causing them to sit awkwardly and a little uncomfortably when you’re wearing them.
The sound is far from good too, with excessively boomy bass that doesn’t leave much room for detail. We’re used to upgrading the standard headphones but it seems a shame when these ones are matched so specifically to the handset.
Performance and battery life
There’s plenty of memory on board with 4GB on the device itself, plus an 8GB microSD card supplied as standard. And if you need more, it will accept cards up to 32GB. The 1600mAh battery delivered a decent performance offering up a little over a day and a half of consistent use.
- Cute design
- Latest HTC Sense UI
- Bundled accessories
- Headphones not the best
- No outstanding specs
Verdict: The first major update to Windows Phone 7 is much more evolution than revolution with some welcome upgrades, but no major changes. The HTC Radar offers it a decent home though, with a good list of features, and it’s certainly more pocketable than the HTC Titan.
More info: HTC Radar spec