HTC Rhyme for Verizon takes stage, flaunting accessories

HTC invited the press to come celebrate in style at an event in New York today. Find out what the smartphone manufacturer unveiled.

HTC Rhyme
Scott Croyle, vice president of design for HTC, introduces the HTC Rhyme. Roger Cheng/CNET

NEW YORK--HTC unveiled its latest smartphone for Verizon today, the HTC Rhyme, an Android Gingerbread device focused on style and user experience.

Known formerly by its code-name HTC Bliss, the Rhyme isn't so much about high-end specs; rather, HTC decided to design the phone on three principles: style, essential, and intuitive. HTC and Verizon were careful not to say that the purple handset was female-focused and said that it was for anyone seeking a fashion-forward device with a solid set of features and a cool bundle of accessories.

HTC created a number of accessories specifically for the Rhyme, including a docking station, tangle-free headphones, a light-emitting cell phone charm that alerts you to incoming calls, an armband, and a Bluetooth headset.

Aside from the accessories, the smartphone also runs a slightly different version of HTC Sense. The home screen has a cleaner, uncluttered layout and you can now remove home pages, if you don't need all seven. There are also custom wallpapers and the camera app now offers the option to automatically upload photos to a specific album on Facebook or Flickr and more shooting modes.

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The rest of the smartphone's features fall in the midrange level, with a 3.7-inch WVGA touch screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera, and a front-facing VGA camera.

The HTC Rhyme will be available globally and will be a Verizon exclusive in the U.S. It will be available September 29 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, and it comes bundled three accessories: the dock, headphones, and cell phone charm.

First impressions
I'll admit, I was ready to rag on this phone based on all the rumors I read about the HTC Bliss , but shame on me because I was pleasantly surprised by the HTC Rhyme. I mean, let's be honest. This isn't going to be for everyone. It's not a high-end device so power users won't even blink, and the color alone (it's too bad the U.S. customers are only getting the plum color) will turn a number of people off (read: men). That said, it's a beautiful device with some nice UI tweaks and accessories.

HTC's made another premium handset that feels great in the hand. The 3.7-inch WVGA touch screen may not be the biggest or sharpest display on the market, but I found it to be bright and easy to read. The new home screen does feel cleaner, though when I tapped on the shortcuts on the left of the screen, they didn't always expand right away. I also like that you now have the option to delete home screens, because I definitely don't need all seven.

The inclusion of various accessories is a nice bonus and makes the $199.99 price tag of the phone fair. I'm most excited about the docking station. The accessory has a very neat design that will look good on a bedside table or desk. When docked, the phone can be used as an alarm clock, or you can use the built-in speakers to listen to your music library.

On the other hand, the cell phone charm isn't really my thing. I don't need a little cube lighting up to let me know that I have an incoming call, and I don't want to deal with extra wires in my purse. That said, just because I don't fancy it doesn't mean someone else won't find it useful, though.

As I said earlier, the Rhyme doesn't have the most-advanced specs. There's no 4G support or dual-core processor here. However, the smartphone still felt fast with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor. I was able to navigate through the various menus with ease and apps launched almost immediately.

We will, of course, put the smartphone through our usual tests once we receive a review unit, which should be sometime next week. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts below.

 

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