HTC Rhyme: Let's Call It the Sexist One

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HTC thinks that buying a pink rhinestone case for your smartphone isn’t enough to proclaim "I am woman" to the world. No, the company wants to eliminate all doubt that we belong to the fairer sex by making a soft phone just for us ladies.

While it's not officially geared toward women (HTC's press release calls it a phone for "people who require advanced features but want a phone that is sleek and fits seamlessly into their lives"), the just-announced HTC Rhyme is clearly designed to meet all our feminine needs. Specs include a single-core 1-GHz processor (no need for dual-core power when we’ll just be texting anyway), automatic Facebook uploads for our photos, and a pretty plum color.

But that’s not all the girly goodness: HTC adds in a cube-shaped charm that blinks to alert us of new e-mails, calls, and messages (this will clearly be helpful when our phone is buried in a bag) and a dock that functions as an alarm clock (because we're too dumb to realize our phones can act as alarms). And since we're obviously watching our weight, HTC will offer an optional armband so we can work out with the handset. The asking price? $199, the going rate for superphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch. Oh, and did I mention that the Rhyme is 3G-only?

Sarcasm aside, it's hard for me to jump on the bandwagon for a product that specifically targets women—especially when that product is something as gender-neutral as a smartphone. What can the Rhyme do for us females that another Android handset or iPhone can't?

Based on our first hands-on impression of the Rhyme, it looks like HTC has tweaked its Sense software to make navigating Android easier. The clock is more subtle, which makes room for slide-out dynamic shortcuts that let you glance at incoming messages or the last few photos you've taken. I have no complaints about these changes, but I have to ask why this simplified interface is showing up on a device that's targeted at women.

Does HTC think men can handle digging through a more complicated system better than us slow-witted damsels? Are ease of use and the color purple really the company's marketing angles for pitching the lady-centric Rhyme?

As someone who has far too many Hello Kitty phone charms than useful or necessary, I'm all for getting girly with smartphones, laptops, or any other device under the sun. But if HTC wants to pander to the female demographic, it oughta know that we want the same thing from a smartphone as guys. Yes, an intuitive interface and attractive design are important, but so are fast 4G download and upload speeds and a higher-res screen than 800 x 480.

While HTC may not be admitting outright that the Rhyme is a phone made for women, it's clear that it's meant for a female audience. And hey, I'd even venture so far as to say that the Rhyme could be a good phone—if the price were cut by at least $100 and the gender-specific frills were stripped away. But until this happens, I think the Rhyme needs a more appropriate name. How about the HTC Pander?

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  • K Says:

    I'm getting this phone Wednesday. I've never had a smartphone and I'm not using it for business or anything, so I wasn't too terribly concerned with power but I certainly would have picked up another one (Was looking at an Iphone) if the Rhyme weren't currently free. I like free. And the dock is pretty neat as well.

    I see your point, but I think the marketing strategy is probably less about women being "too stupid" and more about the fact that women are probably more receptive to this marketing strategy. (Given that one of the accessories is obviously only helpful to women. The charm.) They simply want to make a mid-range smartphone and offer probably fairly cheap accessories to still sell the phone at a higher price. And I think they'd cater it to men if they could think of accessories that the average man would enjoy.

    I certainly wouldn't spend $200 on it, though.

  • Tanya Says:

    The Rhyme comes in other colours, and improving Sense to make things easier to view is a welcome change to all versions of sense, it won't JUST be on the rhyme. It's a phone, and if a woman wants to buy a phone that is purple, go for it. But a man can get the same phone in blue and silver/white. Don't judge a phone by it's colour, and get your facts straight about the software.

  • flaneuse Says:

    But HTC Rhyme goes with a car speaker. I guess it assumes women drive. Not bad actually. :)

  • Gidkid Says:

    I don't understand... Because a phone is targeted to women, they shouldn't buy it? So they shouldn't buy clothes, accessories, and makeup targeted to women, just because it's targeted to them? The logic is either going over my head, or just not there.

    And it's not just price - the "gender specific frills" have to be "stripped away" to make it worth buying, even if the price was cut. Oh, wait - then it'd be like every other midrange Android smartphone!

    This article seems to me like a sorry excuse to latch onto anything that can be misconstrued as sexism. Would you rather there be no female-targeted products?

  • Zachary Klein Says:

    "While it’s not officially geared toward women..."

    Enough said.

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