The HTC Desire is officially out and the new HTC Rhyme has just replaced it. It’s nothing really new in terms of the specs but the whole packaging and the new color tones bring new life to a rather old line. Check out our full review of the HTC Rhyme after the jump.
At first sight, the HTC Rhyme isn’t really that far off from the HTC Desire S in terms of design and form factor (I suggest reading the Desire S review here). The Rhyme is less curvy along the corners, is slimmer, has more internal storage, a faster Bluetooth and higher-capacity battery.
The Rhyme also comes in a variety of fancy colors like Clearwater Blue, Hourglass, and Plum. The one that’s been released and available in the Philippines now is the blue one.
The Rhyme has a solid unibody design, pretty lean and flat with very simple or plain design accent. There’s barely any physical buttons here except for the power button at the top and the volume control on the right side. It actually reminds me of the Wildfire S, only taller and slimmer.
At the back is where the 5MP camera is placed along with the LED flash and the phone speaker. Just below that is three, small metallic contact points for charging when rested on the dock.
At the bottom corner is where you slide out the cover to insert the SIM card and the microSD card.
Up at the front is the 3.69-inch screen which is the same as the one on the Desire S with the Super LCD. The 480×800 pixel resolution is just right for the size and you can bet on the display quality of HTC’s handsets to be very bright, clean and crisp.
At the bottom corner is the touch panel for the usual Android menu — Back, Settings, Home, Search.
The HTC Rhyme comes with a number of accessories out of the box — a large charging dock, Beats-looking earphones, white leather puch and a Light-up Charm Indicator (which wasn’t included in our review unit here).
The white Beats Tour-looking earphones compliments the light blue color of the HTC Rhyme (though many people I talked to was looking forward to the plum-colored variant) and though I am not much of an earphones guy, it adds the cool factor and premium packaging of the HTC Rhyme. (Update: Not really the Beats Tour earphones I originally thought it was but a striking look-alike. The Rhyme is not powered by Beats Audio.)
HTC Rhyme S510b specs:
3.7â€³ SLCD display @ 480Ã—800 pixels
1GHz Scorpion processor
Adreno 205 GPU
Qualcomm MSM8255 chipset
4GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD card (8GB included)
HSDPA 14.4Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi hotspot
Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP, EDR
5MP autofocus camera w/ LED flash
720p video recording
VGA front-facing camera
FM Radio tuner
GPS w/ aGPS
HTC Sense UI 3.5
Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread
The HTC Sense UI on the Rhyme provided improved transition effects and navigation. Additional widgets that made the Rhyme more useful include the ShortCuts & Clock shown below. It’s a full-screen widget that provides accessible shortcuts to Mail, Messages, Music, Camera and FB Chat right on the screen.
And while the old UI has the App Drawer, Phone and Personalize screen buttons floating at the bottom corner, the one on Sense 3.5 only has the App Drawer on the left-most corner and the Phone icon on the right-most corner.
You still get a maximum of 7 home screens which you can customize with shortcuts, widgets, folders and apps. The HTC Rhyme and Sensation XL also comes with a native book reader called My Shelf (probably comes with HTC Sense 3.5 since both handsets have it).
The Charm accessory can be set to light up when messages and phone calls are received. This allows you to be alerted of incoming messages even when your phone is tucked inside your purse or bag. Too bad we didn’t have the item in the box so I wasn’t able test it out.
As for performance, the single-core processor of the HTC Rhyme does the job fairly good and though it doesn’t have the bragging rights of a dual-core chip like the Sensation, the handset handles most of the common tasks efficiently. Of course, you don’t get the benefit of a dual-core chip performance here — like encoding 1080p videos — so you’re left with a decent 720p video recording.
HTC Rhyme beside the iPhone 4S.
Our quadrant benchmark gave us a score of 1492 which is within the range of the chip category but a little better than previous models of the same configuration.
What surprised me the most is the 5MP camera of the handset. I was expecting the same performance as the Desire S or the Sensation but turns it it’s even better than the one on the HTC Sensation XL.
The camera works like a charm for most of the photos I took outdoors and even indoors. Really good white balance and exposure, fast shutter speed, deep color saturation and and over-all clean images.
See some of the sample photos taken using the HTC Rhyme here:
Close up shots are refined and not blurry, even on indoor shots. I noticed though that there’s some sort of sharpening filter done on the raw images (same as the Sensation XL) to correct for blurriness (probably the work of image stabilization).
You can click on the thumbnails to view the original raw files which is around 1MB in size. HTC also included some really nice photo effects like Vignette and Depth of Field (see first photo above for sample). The camera also has options for backlight HDR and panorama scenes among a slew of other scene modes.
The video recording is only up to 720p HD but is actually as good as the photos at 24fps. However, on fast-moving captures, I already noticed a lot of dropped frames. Despite that, theover-all quality is still really good. See sample below.
Battery life is another thing though and has been a Waterloo for almost all HTC handsets (especially the Android ones). The HTC Rhyme already has a higher-capacity battery compared to the Desire S but it offered very little relief on day to day use.
You’d last a day and a half (probably two if you just do SMS and calls) with normal internet and multimedia use but can hardly last an entire day when you’re a heavy user. But as I always say, that’s the reality with smartphones nowadays.
Is it wort the upgrade? Depends. If you own the Desire S, there’s very little reason to upgrade because the hardware is almost the same. If you’re coming from the Wildfire S, then the HTC Rhyme is the perfect upgrade path when you’re not too sold on the Sensation line-up.
The HTC Rhyme has a suggested retail price of Php25,000 and comes with all the bells and whistles inside the box — the HTC Charm, the Dock, the Beats Tour -looking earphones and a leather pouch.
The Beats Tour itself costs Php10,900 in the official online store.
Disclosure: Top Electronics provided the review unit of the HTC Rhyme. You can check out their online store here.