The featherweight candybar-style phone looks almost as delicious as it sounds with a pearlized grape-colored border peeking out from behind the WVGA touchscreen. That accent extends around the display, cutting across the back of the phone, much like a piece of ribbon would wrap around a present -- almost identical to the Status
tablet, only with a dose of Dimetapp purple. A more subdued shade of plum makes up the rest of the back, which is constructed out of HTC's signature soft-touch plastic.
Turn the phone over and you'll find a single LED flash, 5 MP camera, a speaker and some electrical charging points -- not to be confused with the inductive variety on the Droid Incredible 2
. By popping off the battery cover, users will see a 1600mAh battery along with an 8GB pre-installed microSD card. Embedded into the back, there's the phone's antenna. You'll get a sneak peek of what's inside the phone through the translucent casing, but that's about all you'll be able to see as the battery is non-removable, much to our disappointment.
Although rather petite, the 4.58-ounce (130g) phone felt solid, similar to some other HTC phones. Unlike slick plastic handsets and the shatter-prone iPhone 4, the soft material used here makes the Rhyme easy to grip, and inspires some confidence in its durability. Oddly, though, this petite phone wasn't any more unwieldy than the 4- and 4.3-inch handsets we've tested recently, so we're not really sure why HTC skimped on screen. Maybe the company assumed our manicured mitts couldn't handle something larger.
The phone measures 4.69 x 2.39 x .43 inches (119.13 x 60.7 x 10.9 mm) with a similar, but not identical layout to the Droid Incredible 2. Along the top, you'll find the power button coupled with a noise-canceling microphone and headphone jack. The right edge houses a volume rocker, with a micro-USB socket and charging port tucked on the left. The micro-USB port is protected by a thin piece of plastic so precarious, we're surprised we didn't break it in half already. Lastly, the bottom of the phone rocks a secondary mic, helping to make calls sound reasonably crisp.
The 3.7-inch WVGA touchscreen features the VGA front-facing camera, flashing LED notification light and Verizon logo. At the bottom of the screen you'll find your requisite haptic touch controls, including home, menu, back and search buttons. On the backside of the camera there's an LED flash, 5 megapixel autofocus camera, a low powered speaker and the aforementioned electrical charging points.
The WVGA display is bright and sharp, offering generally impressive viewing angles from far left or far right -- although, the quality was impeded in strong sunlight. As far as clarity goes, the Rhyme boasts a 252ppi screen compared to the iPhone 4's 325ppi, making it lower-end, but no slouch as far as screen clarity goes -- doing the photos we snapped in Central Park justice.
Performance and battery life
The Rhyme features Qualcomm's MSM8655, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor with Adreno 205 GPU – the same processor found in the Incredible 2
and the HTC Thunderbolt
. Sure, it's no dual-core processor but it's still snappy and powerful with 768MB of RAM to keep it trucking. Switching between screens was responsive, with quick animations keeping up with us. Much to our dismay, we started to see some lag once the apps were opened, taking an extra second to respond. Similar to the Incredible 2 and the Thunderbolt, the Rhyme clocked a Quadrant score of around 1,400 to 1,700. Radios include the standard WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR, CDMA / EVDO Rev. A and GPS / AGPS. The sound was acceptable during regular calls, but reminiscent of a tin can while on speaker -- especially when compared to calls made on the iPhone 4.
One of the biggest advantages of this phone was the battery life. With a promised 440 minutes (around seven hours) in active use, we were able to get through the entire day and into the night without having to recharge. After using the phone throughout the day to snap photos, check emails and send out a few tweets, we left the phone unplugged overnight and still had some juice left over in the morning. Putting the battery to the test, we ran a video on loop until it sucked the battery dry -- a task which took around seven and a half hours -- quite an impressive feat for an Android phone. When you compare this phone to one like the HTC Thunderbolt
, which sucked the battery dry in around five hours and 47 minutes, not having 4G almost
seems like an upside.
HTC is really pushing the accessories with this phone, including all of them with purchase. The main star is the purse charm, which plugs directly into the headphone jack and lights up when an incoming call is received. More of a novelty than a useful accessory, the charm did help us spot a call in a dimly lit restaurant, but was barely noticeable in daylight. Since it flashes for five minutes after the call is received, the light is really nothing more than a glorified girly notification LED. Another downside is the hardware designed to attach the orb to a purse. Sadly, the piece is completely inflexible, making it impossible to attach the charm to most standard leather bags. If you do manage to attach the glow ball to your pocketbook, the long cord will act as an anchor, making it easier to retrieve the phone buried under a pile of receipts, doodads, packets of gum and other miscellaneous junk that tends to collect at the bottom of purses.
The other signature accessory is the tagliatelli-like, tangle-free headphones. The headphones barely stayed in our ears and delivered scratchy and downright embarrassing sound quality.
The best made and most useful accessory is the charging cradle, which holds the phone at an angle perfect for watching movies or repurposing it as an alarm clock.
One of the things we like most about the Rhyme is the camera function. Although not extremely top-of-the-line, the feature lets us add fun effects like Vignette and Distortion without having to download an additional app and relying on internet access to doctor our photos. Like a point-and-shoot, the phone's autofocus camera allows users to select options like action, portrait burst, HDR and panorama to optimize mobile picture-taking. For more established photographers, there are also manual settings like white balance, ISO and resolution for even more customized tweaking.