HTC's Rhyme is subtly marketed towards women, but its feminine accouterments aren't for everyone -- including women looking for more gender-neutral design aesthetics. But underneath the fluff, it's a solid mid-range Android smartphone.
The Rhyme gets funky with its design, with a bold purple body Prince would love. It has a pearl-ized lavender border and a soft-touch brushed aluminum casing, so it's both pretty and easy to grip. It's 4.7-inches tall, 2.4-inches wide, and well under half an inch thick, so it's not a big phone.
The finish feels more substantial than the glossy, overtly plastic phones on the market, but the Rhyme feels light at 4.6 ounces. If you like the purple, you'll love the design. International users have a beige-y option, but people in the US can either love or leave the purple hue. Since that's the only available color, you'll have to embrace the pizzazz to feel comfortable rocking this handset.
It comes with some frou-frou accessories, including purple headphones and a purple light-up charm. Those are definitely only going to appeal to certain phone buyers, but there's one included accessory that's just objectively awesome: the dock. It charges the phone, gives you a convenient place to keep it upright, and is equipped with decent speakers. Props to HTC for including it for free, because people would willingly pay money for a dock of this quality.
Once you've digested the body, the rest of the phone is a lot less "love it or hate it," since you can't exactly make a feminine screen or software -- or can you? The 3.7-inch screen is functional, but the 480-by-800 pixel resolution pales in comparison to rivals like the iPhone 4 -- the Rhyme's 252 pixel-per-inch screen just doesn't have the clarity of the iPhone's 325 ppi display. Not to say it's unpleasant -- the Rhyme's screen is bright and fairly defined, as long as you're not standing in direct sunlight. Compared to some of its bigger brethren, the screen is definitely on the petite side, but it's not hard to use the virtual keyboard, and it's responsive.
The 5-megapixel camera comes with an LED flash, auto-focus, an impressive array of editing tools and 720p HD video capture. You can do a lot to manipulate the pictures, from adjusting light settings to putting fun tints on the images. Unfortunately, the lens takes mediocre pictures, and the flash tends to wash out faces. It's not bad for capturing stills in natural lighting, but it places this phone firmly in the mid-range category.
The editing options give you some wiggle room to snazzy up dull photos, like adding a vignette effect, but the raw images are lackluster. If you do end up taking a fancy to the camera, you'll have plenty of room to store pictures, because HTC includes an 8-gigabyte microSD card.
The Rhyme runs on Android Gingerbread, complemented by HTC's upgraded Sense 3.5 interface. HTC does a great job integrating your contact list and your social networks, so you'll be able to quickly get in touch with friends and family through a few different platforms. Another nice thing about the overlay: it lets you remove home screen panels you don't need, so you can de-clutter and have an easier time organizing your apps.
You can't completely de-clutter, though, because there's a hearty amount of un-installable bloatware, courtesy of Verizon. It's not as flagrant a case as other handsets, but it will still annoy you. At least the 1-gigahertz processor keeps the phone running smoothly, so you don't have to deal with staring at useless bloatware and lag.
The 1,600 mAh battery is a little bigger and better than its sibling, the HTC Desire S, though it drains faster than its quoted eight hour talk time if you're heavily using 3G.
If you like the color scheme, accessories and updated Sense UI, the Rhyme make is for you. But if you're not enamored with the design and dock, there's not a lot of incentive to buy it. It's not cheap either, especially for a firmly mid-range device. ♦
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