Out of the box and in the hand, the HTC Rhyme reminds us very much of the original HTC Desire and to an extent the Desire S. Like the original Desire, the plastic body is easy to grip, although we do like the new “clearwater” colour scheme.
Taking technology from the Desire S should make this handset fast enough for most things, with apps, social networking, and web browsing performing fairly well.
The latest version of HTC Sense makes this phone look truly uncluttered, with just two icons sitting at the bottom of the screen – menu and phone call. Seven homescreens are still here for you to customise, although a new clock and shortcut widget specific to this handset makes the phone look more stylish and presentable. This widget allows you to see up to five notifications type while still seeing the clock and weather on the one screen.
The lock screen we loved on the HTC ChaCha that was also seen on the Evo 3D has been left here, allowing you to unlock your phone from standby directly into a part of the phone, such as making a call, using the camera, reading email, or checking on stocks.
Both the apps menu and web browser have been cleaned up too, with the browser now showing a back button, url/search bar, and refresh button, and your menu divided into tabs showing all apps, frequently used, telco supplied apps, and downloaded.
These changes to HTC Sense improve the whole usability of Android substantially, bringing Google’s OS past the point of geekery and making it easier for everyone altogether.
Typing on the handset is like the Desire S, though, providing a relatively solid experience, although one that could do with a little more screen real estate thanks to a keyboard that takes up a little under half the screen in portrait mode and over half in landscape.
Calls are possible too – it’s still a phone, after all – and the included Rhyme Charm is a nice addition. Plug it in and when you receive a phone call, the white cube lights up brightly, flashing if there’s a message or phone call that you’ve missed.
The connection between the cord and the handset is quite secure, so you can use the Charm cord to fish the phone out of a handbag or backpack.
One of the more important features here, though, is the speaker dock, an angled white block with a phone recess that can charge your phone and play audio. We’ve seen plenty of iPod and iPhone docks in our time, but an Android dock is new, and the way this one works is excellent.
When the phone is left in the recess provided, three metal prongs on the powered dock are pushed against three contacts on the rear of the phone, simultaneously charging the handset and syncing the phone’s Bluetooth with the dock speaker, which apparently runs on wireless.
HTC has also programmed a screen that displays a music, clock and weather icon, as well as access to the phone, app menu, and screen brightness when it’s docked and charging. With all of this available on the one screen, the Rhyme performs as an excellent alarm clock, although the angle of the dock could be a little steeper.