MRP: Rs 30,000
Street Price (As On 3-Jan-2012): Rs 26,000 (Letsbuy.com; Flipkart.com; Infibeam.com)
UPDATE: The video review of the HTC Rhyme is now available here.
Every Android smartphone in the market brags about CPUs and RAM. However, for the fairer sex, all that doesn't matter much at all. With that in mind, HTC has come out with an Android smartphone called the Rhyme to woo the ladies. It comes with a special purse accessory called the Charm. Let's find out whether HTC makes it attractive enough to impress its intended audience.
Design And Build Quality
The retail box contains the phone, a charger with a detachable USB cable, a pair of good quality earphones, and the Charm. The Rhyme measures 4.7" (l) x 2.4" (w) x 0.4" (d) and weighs 135 grammes. The device's front is made of brushed metal, giving it a premium feel. However, a combination of three colours at the back looks out of place.
The Rhyme's 3.7" screen has pixel dimensions of 480x800. Viewing angles are excellent, and the screen is scratch-resistant. However, lack of daylight legibility is a dampener. Overall, like most HTC devices, the Rhyme has a great build quality.
The phone is powered by a 1 GHz CPU and Adreno 205 GPU. Other bells and whistles include 768 MB of RAM, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, a 5 MP main and a front VGA camera, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a 1600 mAh battery.
Unfortunately, the phone has a major signal reception issue. Its top area is prone to what I like to call "the death-grip" - holding it near the 3.5 mm jack can kill the Wi-Fi signal within seconds. This is very annoying if you browse the web in landscape mode, which most of us do.
Charm, UI, And Applications
The product comes with a unique accessory called the Charm, which is an LED cube attached to a cord with a 3.5 mm plug. It fits in the phone's jack and is meant to dangle out of a woman's handbag. The accessory flashes to intimate the user about calls and messages, which comes in handy if the phone is kept deep inside the bag.
The device runs on Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) with the Sense 3.5 UI. The interface hasn't changed much from its previous iteration - the lock screen featuring an unlock ring and four customisable shortcuts are all still intact.
The only change worth mentioning is that you can add and delete home screens from the overview mode. Apart from that, Sense UI is smooth as usual. While the main menu lags a bit, this is more of an Android optimisation issue.
The default web browser is Flash-enabled and supports tabs. The page rendering is quick, but the Wi-Fi reception issue mentioned earlier spoils the experience. The GPS receiver's performance isn't good either, failing to lock onto satellites until the A-GPS (Assisted GPS) option is turned on.
The phone comes pre-installed with Dropbox, Facebook, Fb Chat, Polaris Office, and Reader. More importantly for the ladies, HTC has also included the Mirror app, which transforms the screen into a mirror by using the front camera.
The music player has a familiar interface, as seen on many other HTC devices. The device's sound quality is great through the bundled earphones. Additionally, plenty of equalizer settings are available, while the SRS enhancement does a good job of enhancing the surround sound. The phone comes with an FM radio that supports RDS (Radio Data System), which has become the norm these days.
The Rhyme can handle 720p MP4 videos without a problem. Third-party apps such as Rockplayer allow you to play XviD, DivX, and WMV files, but at 720p the playback is choppy. Thus, there is a lot of room for improvement in this area.
The device's camera has face detection and touch-focus support. It also features effects such as depth of field, cold and warm filters, and posterization, to name a few. The resulting images are strictly OK though. The snaps offer good details, but jagged edges spoil the party. What's worse is that the colours look washed out in bright scenes.
The device is capable of recording 720p video at 20 fps. Clips are saved in the MP4 format, but the playback is choppy. Another issue is that the videos sport a pink tint. The only saving grace is the 2x slow motion mode, which is fun to play with.
Telephony And Messaging
HTC's People app hasn't changed a bit; it still takes care of every contact detail, including the Facebook profile. The call quality was good throughout testing. Likewise, the phone didn't have any issues with 3G reception, so its Wi-Fi seems to be the only weak spot here.
Messages are displayed in threaded fashion, and the copy-paste function has been implemented throughout the UI. The on-screen portrait keypad is not too accurate, but the landscape one is well-spaced and good to type on.
Battery And Verdict
The 1600 mAh battery managed to keep the device up only for about 5 hours under heavy use. This is surely not good for a phone that comes with a single-core CPU.
The Rhyme has great build quality, beautiful customisation, great earphones, and an interesting accessory. However, its specs are nothing out of the ordinary. A single-core CPU is quite common for Android phones these days, and a 5 MP camera is also nothing to write home about. The Wi-Fi reception issue only damages its cause further. All in all, this phone isn't a great deal, especially with its Rs 26,000 price tag.
Design And Build Quality: 3/5
Value For Money: 2/5
Overall Rating: 3/5