HTC Rhyme: More metrosexual than plain girly
Here’s the thing: the history of mobile phone companies making handsets specifically targeting women has not been glorious. Mostly, it’s been a series of ho-hum phones picked out by dusty pink cases, the addition of diet apps or, pardon me, a pink (i.e. menstrual) calendar.
But the reason companies keep coming up with them probably relates to Christmas 2005. The UK mobile phone networks had high hopes: 3G had been around for well over a year, but this was the Christmas it was going to take off, surely? The 3G handsets had shrunk to a size where you could actually put them in your pocket - just - and although nobody was bothered about video calling, the benefits of faster data connections were beginning to seem more persuasive.
But Christmas 2005 was dominated by an under-powered phone with a dodgy operating system, feeble camera and disappointing battery life. And it wasn’t even a new model, let alone a 3G phone. Motorola’s RAZR V3 came out in hot, hot pink and cleaned up, that holiday season.
The pink RAZR’s success has a lot to answer for, 6 years later, as phone companies still target women. So, today, in the opulent surroundings of the High Line Stages in New York, HTC unveiled its latest smartphone, the Rhyme, to Pocket-lint and a handful of selected press.
To say that HTC has created a girl's phone is probably an overstatement. This is very much a "lifestyle" phone that will appeal to many, with the "girly" element coming from the range of accessories.
So, it ain’t pink, it’s a tasteful dark plum colour, and will also be available in Clearwater, a golden shade that looks really cool.
But the colour-matching accessories, a pair of tangle-proof earbuds and a cube on a wire that glows when a call or text comes in, make this phone seem decidedly feminine.
The processor is fast, the screen is pin-sharp and the new photographs commissioned as wallpapers look chic and inviting compared to the somewhat manly approach as seen in other more "early adopter" smartphones from HTC.
The charging dock that doubles as a display to turn the phone into a bedside alarm is handy, too. It has the latest version of HTC’s trademark Android overlay, re-engineered to make it accessible and good-looking.
Where the Rhyme, or Bliss as it was codenamed, will appeal is that it doesn't debase women into believing they just want something that's pink while still offering them something that will be powerful enough to appeal. That said though, you have to ask whether women will go for it and whether a few feminine touches here and there are enough to help emulate Motorola's success 6 years ago.
Unlike the pink RAZR, if offers brains and power to match its looks meaning that it's still likely to appeal to both women and men.
Maybe it's not just for girls after all?