- Reception and call quality Consistently have 4 to 5 bars of signal strength, even inside most buildings in my small city area.
- Display Sharp crisp images, high DPi, excellent colors, 1280x720 resolution.
- Battery life With minimal usage, I can get one to two days of use. But as soon as you start using the phone battery life drops off quick, thanks to the power hungry screen.
- Camera Nice software features, decent low light performance, reasonably quick focusing, nice 2MP front camera.
- Ease of use HTC Sense 3.5 makes us of and customization of the interface simple, but lots of Android's more advanced settings are buried in menus.
- Design and form factor Typical HTC 2011 design queues and materials, nice textured back. Form factor is on par with other similarly sized screen Android phones.
- Portability (size / weight) Overall phone is large, but still feels fairly thin and not too heavy for its size. Great for big hands, not so much for smaller ones.
- Media support With Beats Audio enhancement, HTC made sure the built in players were capable of handling most common media types. No need for 3rd party video or music apps.
- Durability The Rezound feels solid in hand, but nearly flush placement of rear camera glass could lead to scratching and damage, if it is not kept in a case or protected.
- Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) Includes Verizon's typical bloatware, a few nice paid apps, and Android Market access. The included iBeats headphones are a nice $100 freebie as well.
When compared to similarly priced phones, the Dual-Core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon Processor, 1Gb of RAM, the 4.3" 360 DPi 1280x720 HD screen, and 32Gb of included storage (16Gb Internal and a upgradable 16Gb MicroSD card), HTC Rezound is a very appealing choice. All this hardware makes for a speedy phone. But hardware is only as good as the software that runs on it.
With HTC's newest iteration of it's Sense UI, version 3.5, this version of Android 2.3.x Honeycomb is unlike any other on the market, and the skinning is so extensive in 3.5 that it would be more appropriate to say this phone is running HTC Sense 3.5 built on the Android 2.3.x. Now, having said that, does the software cripple this phone? Not at all. What it does do is make for a very customizable interface, and makes it feel more like a phone. With a large "Phone" software button at the bottom of the screen, that is the size of what would be two or three shortcuts on a competitor's interface, HTC emphasizes that their devices are phones first. The default Verizon profile on the Rezound has shortcuts to the messaging app, mail, camera, internet, voice mail, and email, as well as HTC's famous Sense Clock and Weather widget. With six additional pages flushed out with HTC widgets, Verizon shortcuts, and other Google app shortcuts. All of this can be changed by choosing one of HTC's five designed "Scenes" as they call them, or by creating a new one and starting from scratch.
But this is where the HTC Sense interface excels, in customization of the interface and your interaction with the phone. This focus can be seen in the fact that to the immediate right of the "Phone" button is another dubbed "Personalize". Opening that shortcut brings up a new menu, with three tabs, "Add to home", "Display", and "Sound." The first tab is your one stop shop for widget access, shortcuts, and folder creation. The second "Display" tab, is where you find HTC's "Scenes" and skin coloring choices, as well as wallpaper and lockscreen customization. The third "Sound" tab allows you to quickly change certain sounds, as well as create predefined sound sets. As I said, they default options to customize the interface are numerous. But as soon as you start digging for settings and options, you find yourself sifting through the typical Android settings menu, which is simple enough, but you sometimes have to go through another sub menu or press the menu option to get to where you want.
Even though I've said HTC wants you to remember this is a phone, they tout the device's Beats Audio feature as a major selling point. While I was skeptical of it, and thought it was just another way for a manufacturer to justify jacking the price up. For a non-audiophile, you will probably enjoy the Beats Audio enhancement, but those that are audiophiles will probably be dissapointed. In order to experience that Beats Audio feature though, you will need to be using headphones or external sepakers and HTC's built-in media applications. That is because, as of the time of this review, even though HTC has released the Beats Audio API to third parties to integrate into their media apps, I have yet to find one that has.
To go along with the Beats Audio processing, HTC has included a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre ear bud style headphones, the ibeats series to be exact. To me, this is where HTC has failed the Android community. While most users won't mind that they are getting a free pair of iOS device branded headphones, HTC should have worked a deal with Monster to at least provide a custom pouch that had the HTC name embossed on the back, instead of ibeats.
Now, if you have gotten this far in my review, I applaud you for following me on my Sense and Beats tangent, and to reward you, here's my final thoughts.
So, in all, this phone is a solid hardware competitor to the Galaxy Nexus or even the Droid RAZR Maxx. But while it doesn't have the Maxx's battery life, and the MAxx doesn't have it's screen, and it's not a Nexus device with an unskinned ICS version of Android, the faster processor and expandable storage, as well as the promise of an ICS upgrade on the horizon, make this a solid contendor if you are looking for a new phone. That is, until the new crop of Quad-core phones hit the market. But even then, unless you need to be on the bleeding edge of technology, this is still a excellent choice.
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