The HTC Rhyme comes in a big box filled with goodies. The only standard accessories are the power plug and microUSB cable. The rest is all custom-made for the HTC Rhyme. To begin with, there's a uniquely designed in-ear headset with music controls. The cable is a flat tape kind rather than normal wire - and yes, it is tangle-free. We loved the sound of it too, rich with plenty of bass.
The HTC Rhyme has 4GB of internal storage, but less the one gig of it is actually user-accessible. To make up for that, HTC have put a class 4 microSD card in the box with another 4GB worth of storage.
Finally, you'll find a white leather pouch, the so-called Charm and a docking station (133 g).
The cradle will charge the phone and serve as a music center or a nightstand clock. When the phone is placed in the docking station, it automatically launches the Dock Mode app. It has a clock, a weather widget, virtual music controls and a shortcut to the gallery slideshow.
The dock also has integrated Bluetooth speakers, turning it into a small but impressively loud stereo system. It's upholstered like a piece of furniture and the color of the cloth matches that of the handset. The bottom has an anti-slip rubbery finish.
The Charm cube plugs in the 3.5mm jack and comes with a 50cm-long cable. It's basically an external status LED for women to hang off their purse. Upon an incoming message or call, the Charm cube flashes intermittently. It's got an extra strong cloth-covered cord and the jack has a little bracket that fixes it firmly so the phone can actually be pulled out of the purse by the cable. The Charm isn't compatible with other HTC phones - we tried it on the HTC Explorer and it thought it detected a headset. The LED didn't work.
There are other accessories too that are sold separately. HTC offer a Bluetooth headset and an in-car Bluetooth speaker. They too come in matching colors.
The HTC Rhyme measures 116.8 x 61 x 10.1 mm and weighs 130.7 g. It's basically a Desire S - or an HTC Radar.
The design has been recycled but the HTC Rhyme is undoubtedly a good-looking phone. And different enough. We obviously don't have the purple version, which isn't exactly gender-neutral. Our review unit came in the Clearwater variety - essentially, some pastel hues of blue. We have to say it - the colors are nice.
Otherwise, it's the much appreciated unibody design with the anodized metal front frame extending around the back. The downside is the battery is non-user-replaceable. But this may as well be irrelevant for the targeted demographic. Two bits of soft-touch rubbery plastic complete the design of the rear panel. One accommodates the camera lens and LED flash, the other is the battery cover.
The Rhyme comes with a 3.7” S-LCD screen. And while you won’t get to enjoy any AMOLED blacks, it's a decent viewing experience. Our biggest gripe is the rather low contrast. HTC might have been aware of that too and did well to get rid of black elements in the interface graphics. Even the main menu background is grey. Overall, the pastel tones of the preloaded skins don't give away the screen's weakness. In the browser though, we wished the text was crisper and colors punchier.
The Rhyme's display has passable viewing angles and the sunlight legibility is up to scratch.
And here go the results of our now traditional display brightness and contrast test. As you can see, the Rhyme fares decently against its peers.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|HTC Sensation XL||0.22||231||1045||0.52||559||1085|
|Motorola Atrix 4G||0.48||314||652||0.60||598||991|
|LG Optimus 2X||0.23||228||982||0.35||347||1001|
|Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc||0.03||34||1078||0.33||394||1207|
|Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II||0||231||∞||0||362||∞|
|HTC Incredible S||0.18||162||908||0.31||275||880|
|Apple iPhone 4||0.14||189||1341||0.39||483||1242|
Moving on, a video-call camera is right next to the earpiece above the display. There are also a couple of hidden sensors there – proximity and ambient light.
Underneath the screen, we find the four capacitive keys. The usual Android controls are haptic enabled, well spaced and very responsive.
The long and thin volume rocker is on the right side, while the covered microUSB port is on the left. Some people find port lids a bit of a hassle but keeping the good looks intact is a priority for the HTC Rhyme.
At the top we find the 3.5mm audio jack, which also serves the unique Charm cube. There's a secondary microphone used for active noise cancellation and the Power/Lock key.
At the bottom of the phone is the microphone pinhole.
The back panel consists of three parts – an anodized metal piece in the middle and two bits of plastic that feels soft and rubbery to the touch. The camera lens, LED flash and the speaker are at the top, along with the docking cradle pins. The lower half of the rear slides open to grant access to the memory card slot and SIM compartment. The bits of plastic have different colors but the whole thing doesn't look poorly patched together - a problem we had with the original HTC Sensation.
Unfortunately, the Rhyme has some Wi-Fi death grip issues similar to those on the Sensation and the Sensation XL. Just place the phone flat on the palm of your hand and the phone loses a few notches of Wi-Fi signal. In fact, touching the area around the camera and loudspeaker can reduce the Wi-Fi signal to zero.
The rear cover is a bit hard to slide the cover open, but eventually you'll get the hang of it. The battery is non-replaceable.
The microSD slot is hot-swappable and the phone comes with a 8GB card pre-installed.
The 1600 mAh battery of the HTC Rhyme achieved a score of the respectable rate of 39 hours in our battery test. This means that if you use your device for an hour each of phone calls, web browsing, and video playback every day, you will have to recharge it every 39 hours. You can check out the full scoop on the Rhyme's performance over at our blog.
The HTC Rhyme battery scorecard
The Rhyme has the trademark HTC build and although it recycles a familiar unibody design, it has character even without the unique accessories. There's little to complain about, ergonomically. We'd note the missing shutter key. The screen is the right size, pleasingly responsive and adequate outdoors. It's let down by contrast though. The phone is different from the countless droids out there and good-looking too. It won't look ridiculous in men's hands - not our color version anyway.
The retail package is impressive but that's where things get complicated. We won’t even mention the Charm cube but the upholstered docking cradle is not very masculine either.