HTC Rhyme with Sense 3.5 hands-on (video)

We're here at HTC's swank New York City press event where the mood lighting and floral centerpieces are as unabashedly girly as the Rhyme, its newest handset for lady folk. We just spent a few minutes wrapping our hands around the device, exploring the ports (not that there are many) and poking around the latest version of Sense (v3.5). Do you like purple? Are you a person of style? Sure you are. So what are you waiting for? Meet us after the break where we'll run down our first impressions and see what this thing has to offer beside that cute design.

Maybe it's because yours truly is a woman, but the Rhyme doesn't feel small, per se; it's just not as gargantuan as all the 4-, 4.3- and 4.5-inch handsets we've been manhandling lately. It does feel positively featherweight, though. And why shouldn't it? There's really not much to this device. HTC's playing up the minimalist design but, as is the case with so many gadgets aimed at women, it skimps in the ports department. You've got a 3.5mm headphone jack, lock button, volume rocker, USB port and... that's it. The device comes with 4GB of internal storage on board, which isn't too shabby, along with an 8GB microSD card that you'll unfortunately have to access by sliding off the battery cover.

In terms of build quality, this feels like a typical HTC product. Which is to say, it feels solid, well made -- not unlike the Incredible 2, cut down to size. Though Verizon's version bears that plum hue you'll see repeated throughout our photo gallery, the one headed to Europe and Asia will come in a more gender-neutral silver (and be dubbed "Hourglass"). Either way, that tri-tone design on the back is quintessential HTC -- the kind of design language you'll also find on the Status and Flyer tablet.

The phone packs a single-core 1GHz Qualcomm processor. And yes, we realize that might be a turn-off for you, our readers, but hey, you're not the target customer, now are you? (Okay, you might be!) For what it is, the performance was brisk and precise as we swiped the display and pinched it to get an aerial view of all seven home screens. Speaking of those home screens, this runs HTC's Sense UI on top of Gingerbread, though what you might not have anticipated is that this is the next generation of the software. We have to say, we're digging the redesigned clock widget. HTC says it's more modern, but we just got the immediate impression that it's less obtrusive. You'll also find the home screens peppered with customizable icons with preview panes that update with new photos and the like. Also new to this version: the ability to control music from the home screen and a "paper-like" quality to the icons (whatever that means). Jargon aside, this still feels like Sense -- just a more streamlined version of it.

We also got a chance to play with the Charm Indicator, an oddball of an accessory that plugs into the headphone jack and flashes when you have a call. The idea is that you'll be able to find your ringing handset if it's buried in your purse bag. The cable's roughly two and a half feet long, topped off with that flashing geometric bit -- a design that makes it look not unlike an antennae. The catch, of course, is that you can't have headphones plugged in, which stinks for anyone who uses her phone as a music player. One interesting tidbit: we're told that the light will keep flashing for five minutes, even after the phone stops ringing. Assuming your friends get impatient, then, and only wait a few rings, this is more of a clumsy, secondary notification light than anything else.

So that's all she wrote, folks -- at least until we can get this pretty little thing in for a review.

Zach Honig and Joseph Volpe contributed to this report.