The HTC Rhyme Android phone may have originally intended to target females, but this sleek and stylish Android phone should appeal to a broader market, too. On its own the Rhyme doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary. However, its killer feature is the amount of included accessories that come in the box, including a docking station with built-in speakers that turns the phone into a handy, bedside alarm clock.
HTC Rhyme: Design and display
On first glance, there isn't anything remarkable or new about the HTC Rhyme. It's emblazoned in a light colour called "clearwater", which is best described as a mix between light blue and light grey. The front of the Rhyme is taken up largely by the 3.7in touchscreen display flanked by a gloss black bezel, while the rear of the handset is broken into three parts: the removable, plastic battery cover at the bottom is a creamy blue colour, the aluminium piece in the centre with an etched HTC logo is a metallic bluish grey, and the top piece that houses the camera, LED flash, speaker and dock connectors is a creamy while plastic.
The three colours give the Rhyme a distinctive look over most of its competitors, but the colour combination is hardly feminine in our opinion. That's reserved for overseas models of the Rhyme, which come in a deep purple colour called "plum". The Rhyme is a well built phone: its body is constructed from a single piece of aluminium that HTC calls a unibody design. It's also just 10.1mm thick which makes it both comfortable to hold and easy to pocket. Unfortunately, the HTC Rhyme's battery is not removable and we didn't like the plastic flap concealing the micro-USB port on the left side of the phone.
The HTC Rhyme has a 3.7in SLCD screen with a resolution of 480x800 pixels. The screen is bright and clear and displays text with minimal aberrations, but it's not as large or as vivid as bigger-screened alternatives. Despite this, the Rhyme's screen is responsive and its size is large enough to comfortably type on the touch-screen keyboard with little complaint.
HTC Rhyme: Software and performance
The HTC Rhyme runs the Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' operating system, but its HTC's Sense UI overlay that's of more interest. The latest version is Sense 3.5 and once again HTC has added some minor features. These include an updated clock widget on the home screen, a preview widget that lets you view your most recent e-mails, photos, messages and apps, and 12 new wallpapers.
HTC mentioned the word "de-clutter" multiple times when it launched the Rhyme in Australia and that's what it has attempted to achieve by making some minor changes to the user interface. You can now remove home screens on the Rhyme if you don't use them (there are seven by default), and the new 'shortcuts and clock' widget negates the use of multiple widgets to access commonly used functions. It includes shortcuts for mail, messages, music, camera and the Android Market — you can tap on the right side of widget to see a slide out drawer of the latest activity (a new message or e-mail, for example) or tap in the middle of the widget to launch that particular app. The result is both easy to use and practical and is definitely an improvement over previous iterations of the Sense UI. We think its perfect for first time smartphone buyers.
HTC has added some enhancements to the camera app: you can now snap images with face recognition and burst mode, as well as upload photos to Facebook automatically — this was a feature first introduced in HTC's ChaCha and Salsa Facebook phones. The Rhyme camera includes live effects, so you can see the effect on the screen before the photo is taken, and also includes a panorama feature that stiches three photos together to take wide shots. Photos taken in low-light conditions don't stack up too well in terms of quality and images do have a lot of noise, but for most part the Rhyme is a decent camera phone. It also doubles as a handy 720p HD video recorder.
As it's a Sense 3.5 Android phone, the HTC Rhyme is also the first smartphone that will work with the company's new HTC Sync software. It's now compatible with Mac PCs for the first time and will sync music playlists from iTunes, along with your contacts, calendar, photos, documents, videos and Web browser bookmarks.
Critically, the HTC Rhyme does not seem overwhelmed by the graphically intense Sense UI despite its reasonably modest specifications. The 1GHz processor and 768MB of RAM make this a relatively fast smartphone during day-to-day use, though there was the occasional time where we wish the Rhyme had a bit more speed. The camera app often took a little longer than expected to start-up, and the home screen occasionally stuttered before unlocking. The HTC Rhyme has 4GB of internal memory, along with a microSD card slot for extra storage.