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

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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.

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