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HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless) review: HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless)

HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless)

Bonnie Cha

Bonnie Cha

Former Editor

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

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7 min read

HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless)

HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless)

The Good

The <b>HTC Rhyme</b> boasts a beautiful, compact design. The Android Gingerbread smartphone comes bundled with a number of accessories, including a handy desktop dock.

The Bad

The Rhyme's purple color and cell phone charm won't be for everyone. Camera quality could be better.

The Bottom Line

Though certain aspects of the phone limit its appeal to a larger audience, the HTC Rhyme is a solid and stylish midrange Android device that comes with some nice accessories.

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.

The HTC Rhyme is a beautiful, compact phone but its purple color won't be for everyone.

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 included desktop dock is a great accessory that charges your phone, while also acting as an alarm clock, digital frame, and speaker system.

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.

The Rhyme also comes with tangle-free headphones and a cell phone charm that lights up when you get an incoming call.

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.

The HTC Rhyme comes in as more of a midrange smartphone. Voice features include a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, and text and multimedia messaging. It's only 3G capable but offers mobile hot spot capabilities for up to five devices with the addition of Verizon's Mobile Broadband plan, which costs $20 per month for 2GB of data (overage fees are 5 cents per megabyte). The smartphone also has Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS/aGPS support.

The Rhyme runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread with support for the usual Google services, including Gmail, Google Maps with Navigation, Voice Search, Google Talk, Latitude, YouTube, and Places. In addition, the smartphone comes preloaded with a number of Verizon services, such as V Cast Music, V Cast Videos, and VZ Navigator. The amount of bloatware isn't quite as bad as on some of the carrier's other devices, but there is no option to uninstall them.

In addition to the V Cast media services, the smartphone also comes with HTC's Watch video service. The video storefront allows you to rent and purchase TV shows and movies. Unfortuantely, our review unit was not able to connect to HTC Watch. Last time we checked, the selection of titles was pretty slim, but hopefully HTC has been able to fill out the catalog a bit. Of course, you can always load up your own videos and music onto the device to enjoy; the Rhyme has 4GB of internal memory and comes with an 8GB microSD card, though the expansion slot can accept up to 32GB cards.

The Rhyme's camera had some difficulty in low-light conditions.

The HTC Rhyme's 5-megapixel camera offers an LED flash, autofocus, face detection, and a number of tools and settings. It's also capable of 720p HD video capture.Picture quality wasn't all that great. Under low-light condition, the photos looked washed out and objects weren't always clearly defined. The camera did a little better with outdoor shots, and video quality was actually pretty decent. There's also a built-in video trimmer if you want to do some light editing.

We tested the dual-band HTC Rhyme in San Francisco using Verizon service, and call quality was good. We enjoyed clear audio, devoid of any distracting background noise. There wasn't any major voice distortion, but at the highest level, the volume can be pretty loud, to the point of being painful and uncomfortable. Most friends also had good things to say about the sound quality on their side, but a couple of callers mentioned we sounded slightly hollow.

HTC Rhyme call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone quality was decent. The audio was clear but somewhat flat. Friends said there was a slight echo, but it wasn't bad enough that we had to end the conversation. There was also enough volume to hear our callers in noisier environments. We paired the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones and was able to make calls and listen to music without a hitch.

Verizon's 3G network provided reliable coverage throughout our testing period, and we didn't experience any dropped calls. CNET's full site came up in 30 seconds; the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN loaded in 7 seconds and 13 seconds, respectively. High-quality YouTube clips took more than a few seconds to load and there were a couple of times that the video needed to buffer.

Powering the Rhyme is a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM 8655 processor. The smartphone felt generally responsive, as we navigated through the phone's menus and launched applications. However, there were occasional lags. For example, on one occasion, after unlocking the screen, there was a slight delay before the home screen appeared, and in another instance, the camera app was a bit slow to open. We didn't experience any major meltdowns or crashes, though.

The HTC Rhyme ships with a 1,600mAh battery with a rated talk time of 7.3 hours and up to 17 days of standby time. In our battery drain tests the Rhyme delivered 7.3 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Rhyme has a digital SAR rating of 0.55W/kg and a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M4/T4.

The HTC Rhyme is a bit of a niche device, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. There isn't the perfect phone that fits everyone's personality and lifestyle, so we're always onboard with giving people a choice in devices. For Verizon Wireless customers looking for lots of power and the latest and greatest, there are smartphones like the Motorola Droid Bionic to choose from, but if you're after something stylish yet functional, the HTC Rhyme is definitely worth a look.

HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless)

HTC Rhyme (Verizon Wireless)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8
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