We'll confess: When we first started hearing about the HTC Bliss, we were dreading what kind of stereotypes the phone would make about women. However, we were pleasantly surprised when the Bliss made its official debut in mid-September as the HTC Rhyme for Verizon Wireless. The purple color and included cell phone charm isn't going to strike a chord with everyone, but for those it does attract, the Rhyme offers a sleek design, great user experience, and a decent set of features and performance, not to mention a bundle of accessories. The HTC Rhyme is available now for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
The HTC Rhyme is a beautiful phone. It boasts an aluminum unibody design with a soft-touch finish that feels luxurious in hand. It's also slim and compact at 4.69 inches tall by 2.39 inches wide by 0.43 inch thick and weighs just 4.77 ounces. The royal purple color is also attractive to be sure, but it's not going to appeal to everyone. Though HTC and Verizon didn't say outright that the smartphone is targeted at women, the color choice is a bit polarizing. The international version of the Rhyme comes in a more neutral champagne color option; it's too bad Verizon isn't offering this model, as it would probably broaden its appeal.
On front, you get a 3.7-inch WVGA (480x800 pixels) touch screen. After the recent influx of smartphones with 4.3-inch screens or larger, the Rhyme's display feels a bit small, but still, it's sharp and bright enough, so we had no problems reading text or viewing images. Plus, it has pinch-to-zoom support and a built-in accelerometer if you need to zoom in or need more screen real estate, both of which are quite responsive, as is the touch screen.
The Rhyme runs HTC Sense and features the latest enhancements to HTC's user interface. This includes the updated lock screen that provides access to more of your content and shortcuts to four of your favorite apps, the 3D home screen carousel, and reworked widgets. In addition to this, the Rhyme comes with a slightly different home screen experience and custom wallpaper. First, you now have the ability to remove home screen panels if you don't need all seven. The main screen now also has four shortcuts on the left side that you can simply tap to expand for more information and then collapse when done. It makes for a cleaner, uncluttered layout, so we definitely liked the change.
Below the display are the usual touch-sensitive controls for the home, menu, back, and search functions. On top of the phone, you get a power/lock button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. The left spine of the phone features a Micro-USB port; a volume rocker occupies the right. On the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, you'll find a VGA camera and on back is the main 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. Sadly, there is no dedicated camera key.
The HTC Rhyme comes packaged with the usual accessories, such as an AC adapter, a USB cable, and a preinstalled 8GB microSD card, but it also comes with few other extras as well. This includes tangle-free headphones, a cell phone charm, and desktop dock.
The dock is a really nice extra. In addition to charging the phone, when placed into the dock, it automatically goes into Dock mode and shows the time and weather and provides shortcuts to launch your calendar, photo gallery, all on an attractive screen. You can also launch the music player, and the dock features built-in speakers that sound pretty decent.
The headphones aren't bad, either, which was a pleasant surprise since the headsets that are usually included in the box usually sound pretty flat. The Rhyme's headphones sound slightly fuller than most, but their fit might be difficult for some people. HTC includes another set of ear tips in the box, though, so hopefully your ears are one of two sizes. HTC recently acquired a majority stake in Beats Electronics, but they are not Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, nor is there Beats Audio technology incorporated in the phone like there is in the HTC Sensation XE.
Finally, there's the cell phone charm. The charm consists of a small cube hanging off the end of a wire that you plug into the handset's headphone jack. There's also a clip by the charm so you can attach it to a purse strap or the like. When you get a call, the cube will blink to alert to you to the incoming call. HTC and Verizon say you can then use the wire to pull the phone out of your bag or purse. We suppose there are some people who will find this useful, but other than to test it, we tossed it aside.
The inclusion of such accessories, especially the dock, is certainly appreciated, but we can't help but think there also would have been value in selling the HTC Rhyme at a lower price without the accessories, or perhaps having two options: phone only or bundled with accessories.