The HTC Rhyme is something of a delicate matter, as it is HTC's first phone that is said to have been designed with a female audience in mind. Yet it comes in dull colours and looks quite a lot like every other HTC handset we’ve seen so far. Sure, it’s not black, but it’s unlikely to set anyone’s world on fire in terms of look and feel. So what makes this handset so special then? Well, we’re not quite sure to be honest.
Do women need a phone aimed at them? Is there something about current handsets that's somehow not meeting the needs of female-kind? We take a look into the Rhyme to find out if there's any rhyme or reason for this new handset. Sorry, we pretty much had to write that.
The HTC Rhyme has a pair of unusual features, the first one is the Charm indicator which in short is an LED at the end of a wire and the other being a "wireless" charger dock. Okay, so maybe we’re being a bit uncharitable about it, but the Charm indicator really is just that, a small LED in some plastic attached to a wire that connects to the headphone socket. The LED will then pulsate to help you find your phone when it's lost in your handbag and flash when you have an incoming call. The Charm indicator can’t be plugged in at the same time as the headset.
The wireless charger doesn’t rely on some fancy induction charger technology; instead it has a small row of connectors at the back of the phone which interface with the dock and thus charge the battery. At least the wireless charger is an optional accessory, unlike the Charm indicator, although to be fair, you don't have to use it if you don't want to.
The phone itself feels solid, but also quite heavy for its size at 130g, especially as it only has a 3.7-inch Super LCD screen, albeit with WVGA (480x800) resolution. The Rhyme has a power button and a volume rocker; we would have liked a dedicated camera button too, but this fits the majority of HTC's current Android portfolio.
The Micro-USB port is hidden behind a flap, although this flap is part of the rear cover and it’s fiddly to open and close. Behind the rear cover you’ll find the easily accessible SIM card and microSD card slots, but oddly enough, the battery is not removable.
A quick breakdown of the specs include a 1GHz single core Qualcomm processor, 768MB of RAM and 4GB of built-in storage, although only about 1GB is available for the user. You do of course get features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
The rear 5-megapixel camera is meant to have a back side illuminated sensor and a 28mm F/2.2 lens and although it’s better than most phone cameras, it can’t compete with higher-end phones in terms of quality from what we've seen.
In use the HTC Rhyme feels relatively fast, although the HTC Sense 3.5 UI means that a lot of things have been moved around, so users of other HTC Android phones will have to re-familiarise themselves a bit. The most obvious change is that the little bar on the bottom is now gone, replaced by a pair of circles. One of which accesses the apps and the other the phone menu.
HTC has also come up with a new widget called Shortcuts and Clock and it adds five shortcuts on the left-hand side of the screen, all of which can be customised, alongside a clock and current weather conditions. HTC freely admits it's obsessed by the weather and weather widgets which continues to be a theme of its phones.
HTC has also thrown in FriendStream, its Locations app, HTC Deals, HTC Listen, Facebook, Twitter and a few other more or less useful apps as standard. The supplied desktop wallpapers are also nice, but some logic is missing in terms of how some of the HTC specific apps and settings work. We also didn’t notice any female specific apps, although we’re not quite sure what these would be in the first place.
The time we spent using the Rhyme didn’t convince us that there was anything specific about the handset that would make it appeal to a female audience, instead it’s just another smartphone from HTC that doesn’t really stand out from the crowd.
Photos by David Phelan.