HTC Rhyme: Pretty in plum

By Athima Chansanchai

With the introduction of the HTC Rhyme from Verizon Wireless, smartphones have crossed over into chick lit territory.

You’ve probably seen the commercial by now (and if you haven’t, you can see it below) and it’s clear, HTC and Verizon are trying to tap into a more feminine feel for smartphones. But with the androgynous iPhone 4 and the new mostly female-identified digital assistant Siri of the iPhone 4S, it’s got some competition from the get-go. still, now that there’s no Palm Pre, the Rhyme has an opportunity to reach that same iPhone demographic with an alternative that uses Android.

I know from talking with many of my women friends that size really does matter when it comes to phones. sure, we have purses, but we don’t want to lug around more than we have to. I have the Samsung Droid Charge, and while I love the size and clarity of the ginormous 4.3-inch screen, it does seem rather obese next to the skinny mini that is the Rhyme. It’s enough to give a girl a complex. the Rhyme is very similar in size to its older cousin, the HTC Droid incredible 2. (But that model is already in slimming black.)

An HTC Rhyme next to a Samsung Droid Charge

My review unit arrived in tasteful packaging, a plum colored box to match the phone. underneath a 3.7-inch touchscreen display, the $200 smartphone is powered by a 1GHz processor and Android 2.3. It has 4GB of built-in storage, a 5 megapixel rear–facing camera and a VGA front–facing camera.

This phone incorporates HTC’s Sense Android skin. With the latest version (3.5), you can design the home screen with much more flexibility than you might find on other Androids. Pick what you want to see on each page and flip to each using the touchscreen. 

Ok, so the ad above makes the Rhyme sound like it wants to be your Siri, but without the wisecracks … and without the intelligence of that particular system. the Rhyme wants to be your new best friend, mostly by coming with accessories intended to augment your smartphone life. So how does this “seamless system” measure up? 

I wanted to like the tangle-free headphones, I really did. But the reason they’re tangle-free is because they’re big. They sound great, but they remind me of old-school airplane headphones. They may be in-ear, but the wires themselves are wide. It’s not the most elegant design and in fact, feels a little cheap. But try as I might, I could not tangle the things, so they work! if that’s more important to you than looks, you’ll like it.

The docking station? It’s bigger than it looks. Bulky. I wasn’t looking for another display clock, thanks. I suppose if you don’t already have one, it could be useful. And it is nice that there are external speakers built in. But you have to download music to it — it won’t work with streaming music services you may use, like Music Beta by Google. 

It also comes with a charm call indicator. this jeweled wire is supposed to be something you could hang outside your purse to alert you to a call in a discreet way, while your phone remains hidden. It can be set to light up when messages and phone calls are received. 

I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, but really, it is more distracting than just leaving your phone beside you on your seat, or on the table. if you’re doing business, it’s quite common to see phones out and about, after all. And when the charm does light up, you’re still going to answer it, right? I found it kind of strange, this little lit-up cube attached to a vibrating phone. I’m having a hard time finding just how useful it could be.

Still, overall, I like the Rhyme. It’s a good-looking phone, perfect size for a purse (especially a small one) or even a jacket pocket, and it functions quite efficiently. I loved watching HD videos on it through YouTube, and the my Music Beta playlists as heard through the tangle-free headphones drowned out other sounds around me, including a TV. the camera is a fairly typical 5 megapixels in resolution, but it performs well, and those that like to be creative with composition can do it on the front end, using effects filters on shots.

The phone’s interface also allows you to choose the apps you want to see, prioritizing those you use frequently. It’s more streamlined than other Androids, including Samsung’s TouchWiz interface, found on the Droid Charge. And the Rhyme’s pre-installed apps aren’t so obnoxiously female targeted, with only one (Endo-mondo) that comes close, as it is an exercise tracker that you can also share with friends. Facebook, Scan and Amazon Kindle are all standard. 

It’s girly, but not in a hello Kitty cutesy pink way, which is okay if you’re raising awareness for breast cancer, but can be annoying otherwise. the Rhyme is more sophisticated and very easy to like — kind of like a friend who is familiar with you, but can also still surprise you.

More HTC coverage on

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  • HTC brings 4G Radar Windows Phone to T-Mobile

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