The HTC Rhyme is a device aimed primarily at women, even if HTC may try to tell you otherwise. From the choice of colors available for the phone, such as plum, light green and beige to the fact that it comes with an accessory called Charm, which is meant to be clipped to your bag or purse and inform you of pending notifications by glowing softly, it’s easy to tell that the phone was designed primarily with women in mind. And while some of you may dismiss it because of this or because on paper it seems to have fairly run of the mill hardware, that would be a grave mistake on your part, as I shall explain below.
The Rhyme has a simple yet elegant design that is unmistakably HTC. There are two main design elements here. The first is the metal chassis, which can be seen around the display on the front and as a thick band in the middle on the back. It bisects the two plastic portions, that form the other major part of the design. Each of these plastic portions have a slightly different color than the metal, giving the rear a nice three-tone finish.
The metal portion has a lovely smooth matte finish to it but the plastic portions don’t nearly feel as good to look at or touch. The build quality all around, though, is top-notch. I especially liked the size of the phone, which thanks to the 3.8-inch display, was quite manageable and fit perfectly in my hands. If you too are tired of seeing gigantic Android smartphones then you should give this one a try.
The design of the Rhyme has one flaw, however: the battery is non-removable. You access the SIM card and the microSD card by sliding open the plastic portion at the bottom of the phone but those are the only things you will be able to access.
The Rhyme in India, unfortunately, only comes in one color called Clearwater, as seen in these pictures. Also, it lacks the desktop dock that is part of the phone sold elsewhere in the world. You still get the Charm accessory, though. The Charm is basically a sugar cube sized object at the end of a cable that plugs into the headphone jack. It has a clip for attaching to your bag and glows when you have a missed call or message. While this will definitely be convenient for women who put their phones in their bags it does have a couple of issues. First of all, the Charm is useless under the Sun, where you won’t be able to see it glowing. Secondly, when it’s indicating a missed notification, the blinks a bit too quickly, so it’s easy to miss. It would have been better if it had a slower, breathing pattern to the glow, which would have made it more noticeable. The Charm also uses the headphone jack, which means you can’t have both this and a pair of headphones connected at once.
The HTC Rhyme has a 3.7-inch 800 x 480 resolution TFT LCD. The display is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass on top, which gives it added protection from scratches. The quality of display is commendable; it looks fairly sharp, the colors look vibrant and the white balance is spot-on. The display is also sufficiently bright so it remains visible under sunlight. Only problem with it are the viewing angles, which aren’t quite as good as AMOLED or IPS displays.
Hardware and Software
The HTC Rhyme has a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 processor and 768MB of RAM, which is quite sufficient from everything from your run of the mill applications to 3D games. I tested the phone with a variety of apps and games and I didn’t find the phone lacking in any of them. Sure, things like ‘1.5GHZ Processor!!!’ and ‘Dual Corezz!!’ sound very impressive on paper but most of the time you don’t really need all that power. So even though on-paper the Rhyme might not seem all that impressive in real-world usage it performs just fine.
On the software side the Rhyme is running HTC Sense 3.5 on top of Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread. The OS is outdated now but the Sense skin does a commendable job of hiding that fact. Compared to the previous versions of Sense UI, HTC has trimmed down some fat, which makes it look less gaudy and pretentious. It now sports a simpler and more sophisticated look, that actually goes really well with the hardware. HTC has also smoothened out the frame rate, which looks less jerky while scrolling through the menus although it’s still not as smooth as I’d like.
Among the list of changes include a new homescreen, that has two fixed buttons below for the dialler and the application drawer. The default clock widget has been changed in favour of a new digital clock with sliding drawers on the side, although the old clocks still exist in the widgets drawer. The menus have a new grey background that looks better than the plain black in the previous versions. But what I like most about the Sense UI is the lock screen, which makes quickly launching applications from the lockscreen a cinch.
Some frivolities still exist, however, such as the way the homescreens spin if you flick them too hard or the way the Gallery app launches the icons with a flourish instead of simply displaying them and saving a second.
The HTC Rhyme has a 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus, LED flash and 720p video recording. The camera applications is simple and easy to use and has all the basic features including continuous auto-focus and touch-to-focus. The quality of camera is quite good with daylight shots in particular coming out well. The level of details was quite astonishing but the images also had a healthy amount of noise in them but not enough to ruin them.
Videos, however, are a different matter altogether. The videos were jerky and terribly pixellated. Dropping the resolution to 480p improved the quality a bit but they were still pretty horrible. Initially I assumed that it was just a problem with the device I received but checking out a few videos online confirmed that it was indeed a problem with this phone in general.
Moving on to music playback, the phone fared quite well here. The default music player looks nice and also comes with the option of multiple audio presets but I was disappointed to see a lack of FLAC support. HTC provides a pair of in-ear earphones that also have controls on it to adjust the volume and switch tracks. The cables feature a flat, pasta-like cables that are designed to be tangle free. As for the audio quality, it wasn’t exactly to my taste because it was too bass heavy and had little in terms of high-end clarity but I’m assuming most people these days prefer such sound. The loudspeaker on the other hand was the exact opposite, with clean and clear sound but lacked any semblance of bass.
The video player on the Rhyme is built-into the Gallery app. It will play your AVI files just fine but throw in some MKVs and the phone refuses to even acknowledge their presence. For that you will need a third party video player that you can download from the Android Market. I used DicePlayer and it played all the 720p files flawlessly.
The HTC Rhyme has a 1,600 mAh internal battery. With a fixed battery like that one would hope that it at least lasts long enough. Fortunately, it does. I would easily get around one and a half day of battery life, even with Wi-Fi on all day on a 2G network. This included using the browser and all the social networking app, along with the music and video player. Thanks to a less powerful hardware, the phone is easily able to pull long hours on a single charge. If you don’t use your phone a lot, the Rhyme would easily last you a couple of days at a stertch.
The HTC Rhyme is currently priced at Rs. 25,950. I enjoyed my time with the Rhyme, with it’s attractive hardware and user friendly software. But despite that I do think that HTC has priced it a bit too high. It would have been better if it had been priced at around Rs. 20,000. It’s only the pricing that is holding me back right now from wholeheartedly recommending this phone. But if you don’t mind spending that much then you should go ahead with it. Other than the issue with the video recording, this is one hell of a phone.