Think of it as the anti-Droid. The new HTC Rhyme for Verizon Wireless emphasizes sleekness and ease of use instead of just specs. The $199 price is steep for a 3G-only phone, but the handset comes a fresh interface and a trio of accessories to provide a better out-of-box experience.
Available in a female-friendly Plum for Verizon customers, the Rhyme has clean lines and a nice soft-touch back. HTC tweaked the Sense interface to make it more open and friendly, relegated the clock to the bottom right corner and adding dynamic shortcut icons to the home screen. With a tap you can do things like view your next appointment or review the last few shots you took with the camera. But what really helps the Rhyme stand out are the accessories. See more in our hands-on video below.
First off, the Rhyme comes with a docking station that doubles as an alarm clock. This dock includes a speaker to make sure you hear your alarm and tunes, and the interface also automatically shows music playback controls in this mode. You can also dim the brightness with a touch.
Other bundled accessories include a pair of no-tangle headphones with in-line playback controls and a very unique cube-shaped charm that tethers to the Rhyme's headphone jack. When you get incoming calls, messages, or emails, the charm blinks so you'll know if someone is calling even if the phone is in your pocket or purse. Optional accessories include a matching Bluetooth headset, minimalist Bluetooth speaker for the car, and armband (great for exercising).
The Rhyme itself isn't the most powerful smartphone on the block, featuring a 1-GHz processor, 4GB of internal memory, and 5-MP camera. But HTC has made some nice improvements to photo taking and sharing, including face detection and an action burst scene. You can also automatic upload pics to a specific Facebook folder.
Overall, the HTC Rhyme is stylish and less intimidating than your average Android phone. But we're not sure it's worth $199. It all comes down to how much value you place in the accessory bundle. Stay tuned for a full review.